Culver High's football Bulldogs put some bite in their coaches' pre-game barks to "play more aggressively" Friday.
Unleashing the frustration felt from a 0-48 loss at Heppner the week before, the Bulldogs exploded for 35 first-quarter points enroute to disarming and dismantling Pilot Rock's Rockets, 65-22.
The win left Culver a half-game behind Wahtonka, which it hosts in its Friday Homecoming game at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs and Wahtonka both trail Heppner. Culver is 3-1 in the Columbia Basin Conference and 6-1 overall.
Mark Coy scored Culver's first two touchdowns within three plays from scrimmage of one another. Both came in the third minute of the first quarter.
But Coy's outburst belied a balanced Bulldog attack.
Coy was the game's leading rusher with 125 yards on seven carries and returned an interception for a touchdown just two plays into Pilot Rock's series after his own two-yard touchdown run, but he had plenty of support.
Quarter Jared Adams and running back Nick Hagman punished Pilot Rock as readily as Coy. A dominating Culver offensive and defensive line helped.
A fourth-quarter safety by Ross McWilliams for Culver accentuated the trouble Pilot Rock had with the Bulldogs' drive off the line.
"I just read my blockers. They did a good job opening up holes. There was lots of room to run," Coy said.
Pilot Rock received the opening kickoff and was turned back by Culver's defense before a short punt left the Bulldogs only 29 yards from a touchdown.
Coy ran for gains of 21, 6 and 2 yards, in that order, to create the game's first touchdown drive. Nate Lewis followed with his first of nine extra-point kicks for Culver.
Coy was back in the endzone just two plays later. After intercepting near the middle of the field the senior found a path to the endzone open by running toward his left.
Short drives on long runs created the Bulldogs' third and fourth touchdowns of Friday's first quarter.
After Coy nearly had his third score within five minutes -- on a punt the Culver defense forced -- Nick Hagman broke through the middle of the line for a 39-yard touchdown.
Moments later, Brennan Whitaker made his first of two interceptions to put Culver back in scoring territory.
Adams then rolled right and used a lane created by his line -- which included Ross McWilliams, Jason Pollock, Dustin Herman, Jeff Cloud and Mike Hale -- to go 33 yards on another one-play drive.
Pilot Rock scored twice in the second quarter when Culver gave some freshman and sophomores playing time. But the touchdowns were negated by another burst by Culver in the closing seconds of the half.
The middle part of the game was described by co-head coach Mike Funderberg as one of the last times this season there will be more than a couple of Culver freshmen or sophomores playing at the same time.
Unless Culver does surprisingly well against Wahtonka and Sherman County, which Funderburg called tough teams, there will be little chance to use second-string players again.
Once Pilot Rock had a few touchdowns, though, Culver's coaches reinserted some of the starting lineman and backs into the Bulldog offense.
A one-yard plunge by Adams capped a Culver drive late in the second quarter came with just six seconds left on the clock. But that proved enough time for an unusual touchdown from Whitaker. Racing downfield looking for the ball, Whitaker intercepted an attempted backward pass attempt by Pilot Rock and raced 18 yards into the endzone.
While the two touchdowns and extra-point kicks in the final seconds of the first half left Culver ahead by 34, the Bulldogs used the lead to gain more experience rather than finish the game early. A relatively injury-free season has the Bulldogs not having to worry much about resting anyone, according to Funderburg and co-coach Ed Legace.
Legace said the Bulldogs "had some things to work on," coming into the game and that Culver "did what we needed to do."
Being quick off the ball in the Homecoming game against Wahtonka will be necessary for Culver, Legace said,
Its quickness against Pilot Rock earned Culver another touchdown plus McWilliams' safety in the second half.
Anthony Alley capped a drive during which he and Danny Loredo filled the spots Coy and Hagman normally occupy for Culver. Alley's score capped a third-quarter drive ignited by a 25-yard pass from Adams to Robbie Mason.
The last score came courtesy of McWilliams corralling the Pilot Rock quarterback in the endzone.
The game ended, from a practical standpoint, far earlier.