Santiam capitalizes on four first-half Culver turnovers in a 51-6 blowout win.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Culver junior Victor Torres (center) scored a 13-yard rushing touchdown for the Bulldogs, part of his 141 yards gained, but it was the only score of the night the team could muster. Turnovers plagued Culver and led to easy points for Santiam in a 51-6 win.
Embarassed, deflated, humbled — you name it. Culver felt a range of emotions in its home opener, a 51-6 defeat against Santiam.

After Santiam scored first midway through the first quarter, Culver turned the ball over on its first offensive drive when a Jorge Olivera pass was intercepted. It was symptomatic of the turnovers that would derail the Bulldogs throughout the game.

Although the Bulldogs' defense initially held together, with a stop on fourth down, as well as a Weston Basl interception on the second quarter, giveaways on offense turned into easy points for Santiam.

Aside from Victor Torres' 13-yard touchdown run, with 11:45 remaining in the second quarter that brought Culver to within 16-6, the Bulldogs committed four turnovers in the first half — two interceptions and two fumbles — and trailed 24-6 going into halftime.

Santiam went on to score 27 unanswered points in the second half.

"I told them after the game, 'We just got our butts kicked,'" head coach Jesus Retano said. "'If you go home and feel sorry for yourself, that's not going to (make) you better. Take this loss and learn from it' ... I just want to encourage the kids to keep going; don't let this loss bring down the whole season, because we're still in it.'"

The Bulldogs have their work cut out for them, but their early nonconference schedule can be redeemed when they open Coluwmbia Basin Conference play in two weeks against Stanfield (0-2).

This year, it appears the CBC title is up for grabs. All four teams, including Heppner (0-3) and Weston-McEwen (0-2), all remain without a win through three weeks.

"We're still in it ... but at the same time, we don't want to give up losses like that," Retano said. "We need kids to (have) the confidence to stay up."

Retano won't allow himself or his team to make excuses for the losses, but in reality, Culver has played a challenging early schedule, against a pair of 3A teams in Illinois Valley and La Pine, as well as Santiam, which came into the game with second-most points scored, and second-fewest allowed in all of 2A. It now leads in both of those categories.

On paper, Culver's next game at Vernonia (1-2) appears to be an opportunity to get back on track. Retano said it's up to him and his fellow coaches to set the tone at practice this week. Energy and intensity will be key for Culver in getting ready for Vernonia at 7 p.m. Friday.

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