The Mid-Columbia Conference playoff picture was murky before Friday night’s games. Hermiston made it even muddier with an overtime win on the road.
Wyatt Noland scored four touchdowns and ran for 117 yards, including the game-winner, as Hermiston knocked off Hanford 42-35 at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland.
“That was one hell of a game,” Noland said. “I knew we would have to come out and battle. We knew this would be the game.”
The win put the Bulldogs at 5-2 in the MCC and 6-2 overall. They finish the regular season next week in a must-win game against Kamiakin at Kennison Field.
“Our kids are unwilling to quit,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “Tonight, they decided to be a playoff team. Now, we have to prepare for a good Kamiakin team.”
Chiawana leads the MCC at 6-1, while Hanford and Richland also are 5-2. All four teams are 6-2 overall.
Hermiston led 35-28 late in the fourth quarter, but Hanford came down and scored as Jared DeVine ran for his fourth touchdown of the night with 53.4 seconds left on the clock.
Faaeteete said there was no question who would get the ball when the Bulldogs had first-and-goal at the 7 in overtime.
“We wanted to take a shot right away,” Faaeteete said. “Andrew’s willpower got the first down, and Wyatt was able to run back to the right side. Football players make big plays, and he’s a heck of a player.”
After Noland gave the Bulldogs the overtime lead, Hanford had its shot. DeVine was stopped on first down, a penalty backed the Falcons up to the 42, and they fumbled on the next play, with Hermiston’s Zane Davis coming up with the ball.
The game was scoreless in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs put three scores on the board in the fourth to take a 35-28 lead.
Noland scored on runs of 8 and 10 yards, while Youbani Razon caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from James, who finished with 170 yards in the air.
The Bulldogs stepped up their defense in the second half, putting Noland on the field. He caused havoc in the backfield, and had fun in the process.
“When he told me I could play defense, I was excited,” he said. “It worked out fine.”
In a close first half, which saw the Falcons take a 21-14 lead, the Bulldogs struck first on their opening drive, moving the ball 67 yards in 2 1/2 minutes. Andrew James capped the drive with a 37-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 7-0 lead.
Hanford quickly replied, getting a 61-yard burst up the middle from Jared DeVine for a 7-7 game.
Hermiston looked to take a 14-7 lead on their next possession as James hit Wyatt Noland with a 43-yard scoring pass, but a holding penalty by the Bulldogs brought the ball back. On the ensuing play, Blake VanderTop intercepted James, and the Falcons took over at the Bulldogs’ 27.
Five plays later, DeVine bullied his way into the end zone from 1 yard out and a 14-7 Hanford lead.
Noland got his first touchdown of the game on the next drive, taking the ball in from 1 yard out for a 14-14 game just 2 minutes into the second quarter.
DeVine scored his third touchdown of the game, again from 1 yard out with 2:33 left in the first half for a 21-14 lead.
Hanford was closing in on the end zone just before the half as Gabe Martinez caught a pass from Garrett Horner. Martinez was knocked out of bounds at the 3-yard line as time expired.
Hermiston 7 7 0 21 7 - 42
Hanford 14 7 0 14 0 - 35
Her - Andrew James 37 run (Juan Carlos Navarrette kick)
Han - Jared DeVine 61 run (Xavier Uvalle kick)
Han - DeVine 1 run (Uvalle kick)
Her - Wyatt Noland 1 run (Navarrete kick)
Han - DeVine 1 run (Uvalle kick)
Her - Noland 8 run (Navarrete kick)
Her - Noland 10 run (Navarrete kick)
Han - Luke Sutey 18 pass form Garrett Horner (Uvalle kick)
Her - Youbani Razon 19 pass from James (Navarrete kick)
Han - DeVine 2 run (Uvalle kick)
Her - Noland 7 run (Navarrette kick)
Passing – HERHS, Andrew James 18-24-2-170-1; HANHS Garret Horner 20-26-0-258-1.
Rushing – HERHS, Andrew James 17-83, Wyatt Noland 24-117; HANHS Garrett Horner 8-21, Jared Devine 21-108, Dylan McElderry 7-21.
Receiving – HERHS, Jordan Ramirez 8-76, Youbani Razon 2-20, Garrett Walchli 3-29, Wyatt Noland 4-41, Pitney 1-4; HANHS Blake VanderTop 4-49, Jared DeVine 3-29, Tyler Garcia 1-14, Gabe Martinez 5-66, Dylan McElderry 2-11, Isaiah Mitcehll 2-20, Luke Sutey 2-33, Dandre Forbes 1-36.