Fumbles seal deal in Eagle loss at North Salem

Fourth quarter comeback falls just short

The Hood River Valley football team got the kind of game it wanted Friday; it just didn't get a win.

The Eagles (5A, 1-3) found themselves in a shootout at North Salem (6A, 2-2), with quarterback Cody Walker throwing for over 300 yards, but a string of second-quarter mistakes, late dropped passes and turnovers doomed HRV to a 42-34 defeat.

"You can't score 34 points and not win," HRV coach Caleb Sperry said. "It's unacceptable."

The Eagles fumbled three times in the second quarter, leading to 21 points for the Vikings.

The biggest came on a kickoff following a touchdown run by Santano Sauseda to put North Salem up 14-6.

Filtone Brewer scooped up a fumble on the kickoff and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, providing a 14-point swing in a matter of seconds.

HRV fumbled on a punt return earlier in the quarter, leading to Sauseda's touchdown run.

The Vikings got another big play later in the quarter when Garrett Cole took a handoff and raced 70 yards for a touchdown.

One of the few bright spots for the Eagles in the first half was the reappearance of the running game.

Connor Normand scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter to give HRV a brief lead, and Milo Herman scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter. Herman finished as HRV's second leading rusher, with 34 yards on 10 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Gabi Nuno led HRV with 43 yards on two carries.

Trailing 28-12 at the half, the Eagles did not come out strong in the second half.

The Eagles fumbled the ball away on the second play of their first possession after the halftime horn, setting North Salem inside the HRV 30-yard line. That led to a 7-yard touchdown by Cole on a pass from Sam Lyon.

Trailing by three touchdowns, the Eagles had to move away from the running game. The offensive line was able to give Walker time to throw, and he responded by completing passes to seven different receivers during the game.

Cole Hunter led the way in the HRV receiving corps, with 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight catches, while Malcolm McCurdy had 84 yards on four catches and Normand had 42 yards on one catch.

Herman got the Eagles their first score of the second half on a 6-yard run midway through the third quarter. The Vikings answered with a lengthy drive that ended in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Lyon to Justin Lowe in the final seconds of the quarter. Still facing a three-score deficit, the Eagles rallied in the fourth. Walker first hit Cole Hunter for a 64-yard touchdown strike to open the fourth.

Walker found Hunter again for a 12-yard possession midway through the quarter, and a two-point conversion run by Herman cut the gap to eight points.

The Eagles had a chance to tie the game after the defense forced North Salem to punt. A good return by Nuno had the Eagles at the North Salem 33-yard line with just over three minutes to play. However, Eagle receivers dropped two passes followed by a screen pass to Nuno which was blown up in the back field for a loss of two.

That set up a fourth and 12, and Walkers pass went incomplete.

North Salem was then able to grind out the clock when Sauseda plowed through the HRV line to get a first on fourth and one in the final minute of the game.

Sperry was glad that his team responded after halftime and got back in the game, but said execution has to get better before the Eagles open league play by hosting Pendleton in two weeks.

"We just haven't put together a whole game yet," he said.

Up next: The Eagles host Summit in a non-league game that still carries critical importance for HRV. First, it's the Eagles' homecoming game; always a tough week to stay focused. Second, Sperry wants to see the Eagles put everything together before league play.

"It's a huge game," he said. "It would be nice to have some confidence going into league."

The Storm are 3-1 having won three straight after a 38-22 loss to Woodburn to open the season. They demolished Marshall 70-0, beat Klamath Union 49-41 and then beat The Dalles-Wahtonka 49-23 last week.

Around the CRC: The Dalles-Wahtonka dropped to 1-3 with its loss to Summit last week.

Hermiston fell to 2-2 with a 27-22 loss to Lewiston, Idaho.

Pendleton won its third straight game and moved to 3-1 with a 46-19 win over La Grande.

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