SANDY — Tre Neal returned a fumble for a touchdown on Sandy’s first snap and the rout was on.

Hermiston bounced back from its first defeat of the season by putting a 56-17 beating on Sandy in their final non-league game on Friday.

Neal was coming off a 4.5-sack, 15-tackle performance at Coeur d’Alene (ID) last week, and the junior led an active pass rush again this week.

Final sack and tackle tallies were not available at press time, but Neal and the rest of Bulldog defense held Sandy (2-4) to just 210 total yards (114 passing, 96 rushing) and didn’t give up a touchdown until the second half, which was played with a running clock.

“There was a lot of pressure on the quarterback all night long, every time he tried to drop back to pass,” said Hermiston coach Mark Hodges, adding that Neal had at least three sacks.

On Neal’s scoop-and-score, defensive end Landon Gammel flushed Sandy quarterback Spencer Barnett from the pocket, but Hodges said he wasn’t sure who forced the fumble.

Hermiston led 49-3 at halftime and finished with 372 yards of offense (247 passing, 125 rushing).

Senior quarterback Chase Knutz threw five touchdown passes and finished 11-for-15 for 228 yards with one interception. He found senior Carson Morter for touchdowns of 26 and 54 yards, and connected with senior Keegan Crafton on two more scores from 56 and 24 yards out. His other touchdown was a one-yard pass to senior Cole Smith. Crafton led the receivers with three catches for 106 yards while Morter caught three for 89.

“We got behind our offensive line early and it seemed like we were moving the ball pretty well,” Hodges said. “We were just trying to mix it up as much as possible and be physical.”

Hermiston finished off its first offensive drive with a four-yard Luis Medina run. The multi-talented senior added the extra point and was 8-for-8 on PAT attempts.

Without battering ram rusher Sam Colbray for at least one more week, Hermiston gave Medina his first carries of the season. Leading rusher Cory Adams was a full go, though, and provided some big gains for the Bulldogs while upping his 6.1 yard-per-carry average with 10 carries for 79 yards and an eight-yard touchdown.

While Hodges said Colbray isn’t expected back for next Friday’s Columbia River Conference opener against The Dalles, junior wide receiver Ethan Snow should be back in the starting lineup as another dynamic weapon for Knutz.

That games is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Kennison Field.

———

Hermiston 56, Sandy 17

HHS 21 28 7 0 — 56

SHS 3 0 7 7 — 17

Scoring

First Quarter

H — Tre Neal 9 fumble recovery (Luis Medina kick), 11:50

H — Medina 4 run (Medina kick), 7:40

H — Carson Morter 26 pass from Chase Knutz (Medina kick), 5:24

S — Kaden Walker 39 field goal, 2:21

Second Quarter

H — Cory Adams 8 run (Medina kick), 10:53

H — Cole Smith 1 pass from Knutz (Medina kick), 6:08

H — Keegan Crafton 56 pass from Knutz (Medina kick), 3:11

H — Crafton 24 pass from Knutz (Medina kick), 2:04

Third Quarter

H — Morter 54 pass from Knutz (Medina kick), 7:40

S — Alex Soenyun 41 pass from Spencer Barnett (Walker kick), 5:00

Fourth Quarter

S — CJ McKinnis 5 run (Walker kick), 7:10

Individual stats

Hermiston

RUSHING — Hermiston (26-125): Cory Adams 10-79, Luis Medina 8-21, AJ Schoonover 4-3, Kevin Mendez 2-9, Nathan Hunsaker 1-9, Chase Knutz 1-4. Sandy (33-96): CJ McKinnis 13-40, Spencer Barnett 10-31, Cole Holmlund 3-11, Eric Rotzien 4-7, Andrew Funk 3-7.

PASSING — Hermiston (12-16-1, 147): Chase Knutz 11-15-1, 228, Nathan Hunsaker 1-1-0, 19. Sandy (6-7-0, 114): Spencer Barnett 5-6-0, 100, Kelly Sanders 1-1-0, 14.

RECEIVING — Hermiston: Keegan Crafton 3-106, Carson Morter 3-89, Tony Green 2-19, Cole Smith 2-13, Cory Adams 1-1, Bryce Robinson 1-19. Sandy: Ryan Skidmore 2-48, Robert Sniyder 1-14, Alex Soenyun 1-41, CJ McKinnis 1-3.

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