The fight for the Columbia River Conference crown was over as soon as it began Friday in Pendleton.

The Hermiston Bulldogs scored on the third play from scrimmage and never looked back as they routed the Pendleton Bucks, 49-28.

Junior quarterback Chase Knutz found junior wide receiver Cole Smith in the end zone for the team’s first touchdown 32 seconds into the game.

Hermiston head coach Mark Hodges praised his team’s energy level at the start of the game.

“I didn’t know if we were going to start fast or slow,” Hodges said. “Pendleton was kind of an unknown for us heading into tonight’s game, but it was evident from the get-go that we were going to be fast and physical.”

Knutz completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 237 yards and five touchdowns. He had four touchdown passes in the first half as Hermiston buried Pendleton early.

The Bulldogs scored near the end of the first quarter on a 10-yard pass by Knutz to senior wide receiver Noah Engelbrecht to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.

Not to be out-shined by the offense, the Bulldog defense was stellar in the first half. The Bulldogs didn’t allow the Bucks to cross midfield until a minute left in the half, and the defensive line wreaked havoc on Pendleton quarterback Chad McCoy.

“The name of the game for us all week was pressure,” Hodges said. “We knew that if we could control their running game we’d be able to get to the quarterback.”

Hodges said it was about execution and preparation that led to the strong defensive effort.

“We had a lot of respect for Pendleton’s offense,” he said. “They’ve put up some big numbers this year. We just wanted to get a lot of pressure on McCoy and we did that tonight.”

Sophomore wideout Ethan Snow joined the first-half scoring brigade for Hermiston when he caught another long touchdown pass by Knutz.

He caught two passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Snow filled in for the injured Costa Rodriguez in the defensive secondary. Hodges said he was pleased with how the sophomore played on defense as well.

“We missed Costa so much,” Hodges said. “He is one of the leaders on this team on both sides of the football, but Ethan Snow had a big night.”

The Bulldogs were paced on the ground by senior Trenton Anteau and junior Cory Adams. Both running backs had it going early with Anteau scoring from the 1-yard line halfway through the second quarter to make it 28-0. Anteau finished with 16 carries for 161 yards and the one score.

Knutz capped the first half scoring for the Bulldogs with another touchdown pass Noah Engelbrecht. The Bulldogs led 35-0 at halftime.

Snow caught his second touchdown pass of the game on a screen play delivered by Knutz. Snow scampered 74 yards down the field to find the endzone and make it 42-0 early in the third quarter.

Pendleton got on the board with just more than a minute to go in the third quarter when McCoy hit Isiah Polhamus in the end zone for a touchdown.

Adams scored for Hermiston halfway through the fourth to make the score 49-13 Bulldogs.

He finished with 133 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown.

The Bucks scored 21 of their 28 points in the fourth quarter, long after the outcome had been decided.

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