The HRV football team (4-3, 1-0 league) extended its win streak to two and notched its first Columbia River Conference win of the season last Friday with a decisive 42-21 win over the Pendleton Buckaroos (2-5, 0-1 league) in Hood River for the final home game of the regular season.
In a game where HRV faced some early struggles trying to outpace its CRC rival, the Eagles were buoyed by an efficient second half that saw the team outscore Pendleton 21-7.
Senior Dallas Buckley shined throughout the game, completing 13 of 20 pass attempts (65 percent completion rate) for 229 yards and four touchdowns, as well as being the ball carrier for HRV’s two rushing touchdowns of the evening. Buckley did an admirable job with ball protection and throw accuracy, with his sole interception of the night coming off a deep ball near the conclusion of the first half. Buckley spread the ball around, with four different wideouts on the receiving end of Buckley’s quartet of passing touchdowns Friday night.
The final score makes it easy to overlook what was a competitive and close first half, with the two teams exchanging blows in a back-and-forth contest. HRV got on the board first with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Buckley to receiver Montana Kurahara that came at the conclusion of a 69-yard 10-play drive with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter to put HRV up 6-0.
Pendleton answered just over a minute and a half later with a 19-yard rushing touchdown by the Bucks’ Jamal Vann — the culmination of a 65-yard, six-play drive. An extra point put Pendleton up 7-6.
Both teams struggled to make it into the red zone until midway through the second quarter, when HRV capitalized on its good field position, scoring a touchdown and notching a two-point conversion on the legs of Buckley to make it 14-7. However, just as they did in the first quarter, the Bucks answered two minutes later to knot the game up at 14-14 with 5:05 remaining.
On their next possession, the Eagles marched down the field despite starting farther in their own end than they had all night, putting together a masterful six-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Connor Coerper. Kicker Manny Valdovinos, who was 4 for 5 on kicking attempts, put one through the uprights to give HRV the 21-14 lead.
Mistakes near the end of the second half stalled scoring for both teams. With the half drawing to an end, Pendleton found itself stood up by HRV’s defense in the red zone and elected to go for a field goal while inside the 10. The kick sailed wide and the Bucks turned the ball over on downs. HRV took over and with 14 seconds remaining, and eschewed conservative play-calling, with Buckley throwing a deep ball intended for Tyrone Stintzi. A Pendleton corner picked off the throw, but the Bucks were unable to capitalize on the turnover before time ran out.
The Bucks never recouped the momentum they had in the first half, while the Eagles stepped on the gas, pushing their lead out to 35-14 midway through the third thanks to a 6-yard scamper by Buckley and then a 77-yard bomb thrown to receiver Cody Wheat — the latter of which was the first and final play of another HRV drive after Pendleton was once again unable to score. Pendleton’s only score of the half came from a 5-yard rush near the end of the third, which was neutralized less than three minutes into the fourth quarter by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Buckley to Stintzi for the final score of the game.
In a game where Pendleton and HRV were nearly identical in many offensive statistical categories, it was the Buck’s numerous penalties that made the difference, breathing new life into a stalled HRV drive time and time again. Pendleton had more total offense (440 yards vs. 420 yards), more ball possession (24:33 vs. 23:27), more yards per rush (6.0 vs. 4.5), and better third down conversion percentage (46.2 vs. 35.7) than HRV and had nearly equal stats in average gain per play (6.6 yards vs. 6.8 yards). However, Pendleton had eight penalties for 115 yards compared to HRV’s four for 35 yards. Combined with HRV’s much more efficient passing (13 for 20 vs. 18 for 32) and fourth down conversions (4 for 6 vs. 1 for 3), it was too much for the Bucks to overcome.
The win puts HRV atop the CRC with the Hermiston Bulldogs (2-5, 1-0 league), who pounded the beleaguered The Dalles Riverhawks by a score of 56-10 in The Dalles Friday night. No. 27 HRV will face No. 19 Hermiston on Friday night on the Bulldogs’ home turf.