By James Whalley

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Even a penalty plagued first half couldn’t keep the Hermiston Bulldogs from their first 5-0 start since 1953.

The Bulldogs earned their first win in nine tries against the Intermountain Conference defending champion Bend Lava Bears, 21-14 Friday night.

With the win Hermiston improves to 2-0 in the IMC, and 5-0 overall. Bend continues to struggle with an extremely tough schedule and falls to 0-2 in the IMC, and 1-5 overall.

For the first time this season the Bulldogs found themselves coming from behind early, as they trailed Bend 7-0 in the first quarter. Hermiston had to overcome a number of mental mistakes in order to salvage a game that they looked primed to give away.

Bend’s first score of the game came on a quarterback keeper from Brian Cappy from 9 yards out. The play was set up by three consecutive first downs that saw Hermiston struggle to put any pressure on Cappy as he picked apart the Bulldog secondary.

The Lava Bears also found early success running behind 6’5”, 260 lb. right tackle Josh Whitcomb, who opened up big holes for senior Kip Jones to run through throughout the first half.

Hermiston responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that would not come easily. The Bulldogs had to overcome two holding penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, that seemed to stall the drive on the Bend 30-yard line.

Facing 4th-and-14, quarterback Jared Zabransky narrowly avoided a sack as he hit Allen Ayers in stride for a 30-yard touchdown strike with 1:27 left in the half. It was the first of two touchdown receptions on the night for Ayers, as Hermiston tied the game at 7-7 heading into the intermission.

With new energy and focus, the Bulldogs stopped the first Lava Bear possession of the half, as Steve Shaw and Mario Martinez finally got to Cappy for a sack on 3rd-and-13 to force the punt.

The Hermiston offense that dominated the last four games for the Bulldogs, reared its head, showing new signs of life behind a three-play, 71-yard touchdown drive. The drive was capped off as Zabransky hit Ayers for a 57-yard pass down the right sideline to take the 13-7 lead. Ayers finished the game with five receptions for a game high 111 yards.

Behind an offensive line, that was now pushing Bend back on its heels, the Bulldogs would pound out a clock killing running game that the Lava Bears had no answer for.

On the second Hermiston possession of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs marched 56 yards for the score that would seal the victory. The nine play drive came on the legs of senior half-back Tom Plucinak, who carried the ball six times to set up the 3-yard touchdown run by Michael Herriman. The two point conversion by Zabransky gave Hermiston a 21-7 lead.

Plucinak finished with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries.

“The offensive line really stepped up in the second half when we needed it.” said Plucinak. “Even though we won the game, we made a lot of mistakes tonight. There’s a lot of room for improvement right now.”

Bend put together one last touchdown drive to cut the Bulldog lead to 21-14, but a failed onside kick sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

Bulldog head coach Jerry Williams was not pleased with his team’s overall performance on the night, and echoed the sentiments of Plucinak.

“We could’ve put this team away a lot earlier if our heads were in this game.” said Williams. “We made too many mistakes.”

“The holding penalties we can work on, but the personal fouls are very frustrating.

“If we don’t correct some of the mistakes we made tonight, we will lose some tight games this season.” continued Williams. “This was a big win for us though, and it gives us a real good shot at making the playoffs.”

By James Whalley

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Even a penalty plagued first half couldn’t keep the Hermiston Bulldogs from their first 5-0 start since 1953.

The Bulldogs earned their first win in nine tries against the Intermountain Conference defending champion Bend Lava Bears, 21-14 Friday night.

With the win Hermiston improves to 2-0 in the IMC, and 5-0 overall. Bend continues to struggle with an extremely tough schedule and falls to 0-2 in the IMC, and 1-5 overall.

For the first time this season the Bulldogs found themselves coming from behind early, as they trailed Bend 7-0 in the first quarter. Hermiston had to overcome a number of mental mistakes in order to salvage a game that they looked primed to give away.

Bend’s first score of the game came on a quarterback keeper from Brian Cappy from 9 yards out. The play was set up by three consecutive first downs that saw Hermiston struggle to put any pressure on Cappy as he picked apart the Bulldog secondary.

The Lava Bears also found early success running behind 6’5”, 260 lb. right tackle Josh Whitcomb, who opened up big holes for senior Kip Jones to run through throughout the first half.

Hermiston responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that would not come easily. The Bulldogs had to overcome two holding penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, that seemed to stall the drive on the Bend 30-yard line.

Facing 4th-and-14, quarterback Jared Zabransky narrowly avoided a sack as he hit Allen Ayers in stride for a 30-yard touchdown strike with 1:27 left in the half. It was the first of two touchdown receptions on the night for Ayers, as Hermiston tied the game at 7-7 heading into the intermission.

With new energy and focus, the Bulldogs stopped the first Lava Bear possession of the half, as Steve Shaw and Mario Martinez finally got to Cappy for a sack on 3rd-and-13 to force the punt.

The Hermiston offense that dominated the last four games for the Bulldogs, reared its head, showing new signs of life behind a three-play, 71-yard touchdown drive. The drive was capped off as Zabransky hit Ayers for a 57-yard pass down the right sideline to take the 13-7 lead. Ayers finished the game with five receptions for a game high 111 yards.

Behind an offensive line, that was now pushing Bend back on its heels, the Bulldogs would pound out a clock killing running game that the Lava Bears had no answer for.

On the second Hermiston possession of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs marched 56 yards for the score that would seal the victory. The nine play drive came on the legs of senior half-back Tom Plucinak, who carried the ball six times to set up the 3-yard touchdown run by Michael Herriman. The two point conversion by Zabransky gave Hermiston a 21-7 lead.

Plucinak finished with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries.

“The offensive line really stepped up in the second half when we needed it.” said Plucinak. “Even though we won the game, we made a lot of mistakes tonight. There’s a lot of room for improvement right now.”

Bend put together one last touchdown drive to cut the Bulldog lead to 21-14, but a failed onside kick sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

Bulldog head coach Jerry Williams was not pleased with his team’s overall performance on the night, and echoed the sentiments of Plucinak.

“We could’ve put this team away a lot earlier if our heads were in this game.” said Williams. “We made too many mistakes.”

“The holding penalties we can work on, but the personal fouls are very frustrating.

“If we don’t correct some of the mistakes we made tonight, we will lose some tight games this season.” continued Williams. “This was a big win for us though, and it gives us a real good shot at making the playoffs.”By James Whalley

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Even a penalty plagued first half couldn’t keep the Hermiston Bulldogs from their first 5-0 start since 1953.

The Bulldogs earned their first win in nine tries against the Intermountain Conference defending champion Bend Lava Bears, 21-14 Friday night.

With the win Hermiston improves to 2-0 in the IMC, and 5-0 overall. Bend continues to struggle with an extremely tough schedule and falls to 0-2 in the IMC, and 1-5 overall.

For the first time this season the Bulldogs found themselves coming from behind early, as they trailed Bend 7-0 in the first quarter. Hermiston had to overcome a number of mental mistakes in order to salvage a game that they looked primed to give away.

Bend’s first score of the game came on a quarterback keeper from Brian Cappy from 9 yards out. The play was set up by three consecutive first downs that saw Hermiston struggle to put any pressure on Cappy as he picked apart the Bulldog secondary.

The Lava Bears also found early success running behind 6’5”, 260 lb. right tackle Josh Whitcomb, who opened up big holes for senior Kip Jones to run through throughout the first half.

Hermiston responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that would not come easily. The Bulldogs had to overcome two holding penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, that seemed to stall the drive on the Bend 30-yard line.

Facing 4th-and-14, quarterback Jared Zabransky narrowly avoided a sack as he hit Allen Ayers in stride for a 30-yard touchdown strike with 1:27 left in the half. It was the first of two touchdown receptions on the night for Ayers, as Hermiston tied the game at 7-7 heading into the intermission.

With new energy and focus, the Bulldogs stopped the first Lava Bear possession of the half, as Steve Shaw and Mario Martinez finally got to Cappy for a sack on 3rd-and-13 to force the punt.

The Hermiston offense that dominated the last four games for the Bulldogs, reared its head, showing new signs of life behind a three-play, 71-yard touchdown drive. The drive was capped off as Zabransky hit Ayers for a 57-yard pass down the right sideline to take the 13-7 lead. Ayers finished the game with five receptions for a game high 111 yards.

Behind an offensive line, that was now pushing Bend back on its heels, the Bulldogs would pound out a clock killing running game that the Lava Bears had no answer for.

On the second Hermiston possession of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs marched 56 yards for the score that would seal the victory. The nine play drive came on the legs of senior half-back Tom Plucinak, who carried the ball six times to set up the 3-yard touchdown run by Michael Herriman. The two point conversion by Zabransky gave Hermiston a 21-7 lead.

Plucinak finished with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries.

“The offensive line really stepped up in the second half when we needed it.” said Plucinak. “Even though we won the game, we made a lot of mistakes tonight. There’s a lot of room for improvement right now.”

Bend put together one last touchdown drive to cut the Bulldog lead to 21-14, but a failed onside kick sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

Bulldog head coach Jerry Williams was not pleased with his team’s overall performance on the night, and echoed the sentiments of Plucinak.

“We could’ve put this team away a lot earlier if our heads were in this game.” said Williams. “We made too many mistakes.”

“The holding penalties we can work on, but the personal fouls are very frustrating.

“If we don’t correct some of the mistakes we made tonight, we will lose some tight games this season.” continued Williams. “This was a big win for us though, and it gives us a real good shot at making the playoffs.”

(For complete coverage, see the Oct. 9 edition of the Hermiston Herald)

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