West Albany High put the pedal to the floor in the third quarter with its running game, and shorthanded Crescent Valley simply couldn’t match the horsepower.
The Bulldogs cleaned up their first-half mistakes and ran for more than 150 yards after halftime, scoring 21 points in the third quarter of a 41-0 Mid-Willamette Conference football win at Memorial Stadium.
Lost fumbles near midfield by running backs Porter Phillips and Zack Cehrs in the second quarter kept West (2-0, 2-0) from leading by more than the 20-0 it did at the break.
Bulldogs coach Brian Mehl said he expected to see what his team did in the third quarter to happen in the second, but it didn’t.
“We told them exactly what we were going to do and they did it,” Mehl said of the message to his players. “(The Raiders) have a lot of guys playing both ways and eventually we believed that would happen. That’s why we train the way we do. I’m proud of our kids and how we handled that third quarter. That was well done.”
The Bulldogs came back to the field after halftime intent on putting the game away, and they did. Phillips took the ball five straight times, covering all 59 yards of the opening drive by himself and finishing with a 4-yard run.
The West defense got a quick three-and-out and the offense went back to work.
Phillips went 22 yards on two carries and Connor Wolfe caught a 9-yard pass from Carson Van Dyke and Van Dyke kept the ball on a keeper play and went 18 yards for another score to highlight a 58-yard drive.
CV’s offense was again ushered off the field quickly and the Bulldogs put the ball primarily in the hands of Cehrs the rest of the way.
After a Raiders (1-1, 1-1) personal foul on the punt moved the ball to the CV 25, the junior carried five straight times and found the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run.
Cehrs said there were good halftime adjustments made by the coaches and the players “just came out and played our game. Our line was moving and they were doing their blocks. They were just doing their job and I found my hole.”
The Raiders were short on depth before the game due to injuries and then lost some players during the contest. That put players in unfamiliar positions.
On top of that, first-year coach Mike Connor was ill and in the hospital, unable to attend practice during the week. Connor said he got some IVs Friday afternoon that allowed him to coach the game.
“They’re a great team. I’m not going to take anything away from them,” Connor said of the Bulldogs. “We didn’t do the things we should be doing to put ourselves in position. We kind of got exposed. We feel like we could hang with them, but it was just one of those nights where we didn’t have things working for us.”
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West opened the game using its passing attack to open up the run, and that eventually paid off in the second half.
Phillips, a senior, had just 18 yards on seven first-half carries but finished with 99 yards on 15 attempts. Cehrs had 81 yards on 14 carries.
Van Dyke was 10 of 14 passing for 129 yards with touchdown passes to Wolfe and Blake Bowers. Both receivers had three catches.
Bowers scored on a 5-yard run on West’s opening drive of the game. CV took a quarterback sack on a fourth down play from its own 44 on the first possession of the contest.
The Bulldogs also scored on their next drive on Wolfe’s 7-yard pass from Van Dyke. The drive included a 43-yard Bowers catch.
A fumble recovery by West’s Chase Bauserman soon after set up a short field for the offense. The Bulldogs lost 10 yards on a sack by CV’s Trevor Adams, but the home team covered 42 yards in three plays, capped by Bowers’ 17-yard touchdown grab.
West’s Luke Killinger intercepted Raiders quarterback Walker Riney later in the half, but Phillips fumbled and the Bulldogs turned the ball over.
Crescent Valley struggled to gain any ground running the ball until late.
The Raiders finished with 53 rushing yards. Forty-five of that came on the visitors’ final possession.
Riney was 11-of-24 passing for 127 yards and the interception. Ty Abernathy had a 57-yard catch late in the third quarter that moved the ball to the West 30. But the Raiders got no closer than the 26 from there.
Riney also rushed for 39 yards on 12 carries.
“We controlled the front seven really tonight,” Mehl said. “(Senior defensive lineman) James Burwell was in the backfield much of the night. It was really tough sledding for them in the run game, and then when you force the pass against some of the guys we have, it puts you in a tough spot.”
Both teams are on the road next week, with West Albany at Central and Crescent Valley going to Corvallis.
“We’re going to flush this one and come back Monday ready to work and get ready for CHS,” Connor said.