The Hood River Valley High Eagles had a good start in a Columbia River Conference football road game last Friday against the highly regarded Hermiston Bulldogs. The Eagles (0-2 CRC, 1-7 overall) got the first score of the game on a Jeremy Fischer touchdown run and led 7-3 going into the second quarter before Hermiston (2-0 CRC, 5-3 overall) turned up the heat at its home stadium and ran away with an eventual 60-36 win.
HRV took the initial advantage on a five-play, 57-yard possession, capped by Fischer’s 14-yard TD run and Martin Lanthaler’s extra point for a 7-0 lead with nine minutes, three seconds left in the first quarter.
“I thought that we actually played pretty tough and we really made Hermiston work hard to get a win,” said coach Caleb Sperry. “Even with all the adversity we’ve been through this season, these kids never quit. They always keep playing hard, while maintaining a great attitude and that’s pretty cool to see.”
The Eagles’ defense was solid in the opening 12 minutes of the game as they held the Bulldogs without a touchdown. Hermiston had a field goal, but HRV was on top 7-3 after one quarter.
Hermiston took the lead 17 seconds into the second with a TD drive to go ahead 10-7. Capitalizing on Eagle turnovers, the Bulldogs quickly added two more unanswered second-quarter scores to build a 23-7 lead.
“We had costly turnovers that helped give Hermiston opportunities to make some big plays that really changed the momentum in their favor,” said Sperry.
The Eagles trimmed the second-quarter margin after a stellar 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Alix Jimenez; Lanthaler’s PAT made it 23-14 with 10:25 left in the second. Hermiston later converted on a scoring drive with 7:49 on the clock to build a 31-14 halftime lead.
After Hermiston extended its lead to 38-14, the Eagles responded with a valiant effort on back-to-back third quarter scores. Eagle junior quarterback Riley Van Hoose (17-for-29 passing, 155 yards, TD) threw a 17-yard TD strike to sophomore receiver Kellan Duffy (five receptions, 85 yards) to cap a six-play, 64-yard drive and Lanthaler’s kick made it 38-21 with 6:05 left in the quarter. It was the first touchdown reception of the year for Duffy.
Later in the game, Van Hoose (eight carries, 90 yards rushing) broke away from defenders and sprinted to pay dirt on a 73-yard TD run, followed by Lanthaler’s kick, trimming the margin to 38-28 with 3:05 left in the third. The resilient Eagles were within striking distance as they trailed by just 10 points going into the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs used home-field momentum to outscore the Eagles 22-6 in the fourth, though, to claim the victory. Van Hoose connected with Fischer (five receptions, 39 yards, TD) on a 10-yard TD toss with 4:39 remaining in the game for the Eagles’ final tally.
The Eagles will now focus their final game of the season this Friday when they take on 5A No. 16 rivals The Dalles-Wahtonka (7 p.m. at TDHS).
“The Dalles has had a good season as indicated by their record, so it’s going to be a good test for us,” said Sperry. “We can’t take anything for granted because we’re a one-win team. It’s a big game, especially for our seniors, who really have lots of pride to play for. I think they’ll go out there one last time and do their best in their final game. There’s one week left and we can’t hold anything back.”
If the Eagles accomplish their goal of winning, they would earn the additional prize of retaining the “Water Bucket Trophy” for a third straight year. The trophy lists the scores of each game played between the two rivals and the winning team gets to keep it in its trophy case for the following year.