During the fourth quarter of Hermiston’s 28-21 win over Springfield last Friday, I was sitting in the northeastern-most booth of the press box and saw the end of the game’s action right in front of me.

It was an interesting turn of events.

Hermiston had allowed a touchdown a few minutes previous to this sequence, and Springfield had the ball again and was marching. Quarterback Trevor Watson was accurate with his arm and aggressive with his legs. In a minute, Springfield went from the their own 7 to the Hermiston 22.

It was there that things got interesting.

The Millers fumbled, and Hermiston recovered. It looked like the defensive stop they needed to seal the win.

In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

The Bulldogs fumbled on the very next play.

It looked like all the momentum had swung to the far sideline and we’d be going to overtime.

Bad news for me, as my deadline was creeping closer and closer.

Hermiston forced a turnover on downs in four plays. Springfield never had an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum they had just seized. Instead, they handed it back reluctantly.

For the first time in three games this season, Hermiston had their collective back against the wall and rose to the occasion. It was a playoff win, in a playoff game against a playoff team in September.

As boring as the game against Kamiakin was, this game was equally exciting, although it looked like it could go the same route early on.

I’m still not sure if Hermiston let Springfield back in it or Springfield clawed its way back in. Regardless, it was a matchup of two state-ranked teams in what potentially could be a playoff preview.

Springfield did expose a weakness of Hermiston, in my opinion.

I’m not saying it’s always easy to contain a mobile quarterback, because it isn’t. But guys who can run and throw could potentially give Hermiston a lot of problems moving forward. Although he threw a couple of interceptions and missed some open receivers, he was still very good through the air, and he kept multiple plays alive with his feet and got tough yards on the ground.

Hermiston is going to have to play better contain football on the edges and keep the pocket secure. Look at what Russell Wilson did to the Broncos on Sunday. That was a decent representation of the success Watson had. It’s just Wilson is one of the better QBs in the NFL, so he is much more accurate.

Despite that one negative, Hermiston’s win over Springfield said a lot about the Bulldogs. As coach Mark Hodges said, it was an ugly game and they didn’t play their best football, but they won. When a team can play a sub-par game — at least in their minds to their standards — and still beat a really good team, it does wonders for confidence, but it also wakes up a team to the fact they have to come prepared to play every week. Eventually, those games become losses.

Unfortunately, I won’t be in the press box against Lewiston. I have to go home for a funeral. But I imagine if I were in the press box this Friday, I would see a much improved team, a team looking to make another statement, a team that wants to hoist a trophy in November.

They’ve already made two, but it’ll take many more than that.

—Sam Barbee is the sports reporter for the Hermiston Herald. He can be reached at (541) 564-4542 or sbarbee@hermistonherald.com

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