It would have been hard to draw up a homecoming result any better for the Hood River Valley football team.
The Eagles shrugged off a slow start to obliterate the St. Helens Lions 58-10 Friday night in Hood River.
The Eagles rushed for 437 yards, with five touchdown runs of 50 or more yards by three different players.
Forrest Broddie rushed for 255 yards and four touchdowns while Jeremy Fischer rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re just playing more confident and expecting to win,” said senior safety/receiver Kyle Beam of an Eagles team that is now 4-1 and has now thrashed its last two opponents by a combined score of 103-20.
The Eagles turned to Broddie and Fischer to blow the game completely open at the start of the second half.
The Eagles came out of the locker room with a 28-10 lead, having posted 21 points in the final 3:07 of the first half.
Fischer rushed for a 78-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, while Broddie followed with a 62-yard touchdown run later in the quarter and an 80-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“I was really pumped for homecoming,” Broddie said. “We worked extra hard this week.”
The Eagles actually trailed in the game for most of the first half before the HRV defense stepped up and gave the Eagle ground game a chance to get going.
St. Helens was inside the Eagle 10-yard line one play into the game after several missed tackles on a draw play.
However, the Eagle defense stood firm and forced a Nathan Reed field goal.
The HRV defense later gave the offense terrific field position on a blocked punt, but the Eagles turned the ball over on downs on the Lions’ 15-yard line.
The Eagles and Lions would trade touchdowns late in the first half, on a 54-yard run by Broddie and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Gage Bumgardner to Tanner Long which gave St. Helens a 10-7 lead five seconds into the second quarter.
That touchdown was the last highlight of the night for the Lions.
“It felt like it took forever to gain some traction and to figure out what we were doing,” said HRV coach Caleb Sperry. “It took us a while to adjust.”
On the Lions’ next possession, HRV’s Alex Jimenez broke up a fourth-down fake punt pass attempt by the Lions midway through the second quarter and moments later Broddie rushed for a 37-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left in the first half to give the Eagles a 14-10 lead.
Jimenez came up big again on the next St. Helens possession, picking off a Bumgardner pass to set up the Eagles in good field position.
Luke Kopecky capped the ensuing HRV drive with a one-yard touchdown sneak to extend the lead.
Seconds before halftime the Eagles scored again when Kopecky hit Chase Young for a 17-yard touchdown and the rout was on.
The Eagle defense smothered St. Helens in the second half, reducing the Lions to a pair of long field goal tries. The second of those, a 50-yarder by Nathan Reed in the fourth quarter, fell 20 yards short of the uprights and rolled out the back of the end zone. On the next play Broddie went 80 yards for a touchdown.
“It was great to see our running backs do that,” said senior Eli Fults, who led the way for many of the big runs out of his fullback spot.
Jimenez got the icing on the cake after a successful night on defense when he came into the game as quarterback in the closing minutes and sprinted for a 50-yard touchdown on an option keeper.
While Jimenez, Broddie and Fischer made the flashy plays, the toll dished out by the HRV defense and offensive line made the difference for the Eagles.
On four of the five 50-plus yard touchdown runs, the Eagle backs had only to make the first man miss before sprinting for the end zone because most of the defenders had been blocked out of the play. On Broddie’s first touchdown the line gave him an entire open field to run and he only needed to trample over a defender, who had come across the field, at the 10-yard line to get into the end zone.
On defense the Eagles sacked Bumgardner four times and were in the backfield consistently in the second half. They blocked a punt, forced two missed field goals, came up with an interception, forced a fumble, caused a safety and made the Lions go 0-for-16 on third-down attempts.
“It was a great game to build some confidence,” said Fults.
Fults said the Eagles figured out they were going to have to throw the game into the next gear when “we realized they wouldn’t just fall.”
The Eagles will now be on the road for the next two weeks, with a key non-league test at Wilson next Friday before opening league play at Pendleton the following week.
Their next home game will be against Hermiston Oct. 19.
Around the Columbia River Conference: Hermiston beat Bend 36-6, Pendleton fell to Baker 49-28 and The Dalles-Wahtonka had a bye week.