Big second half keeps Bulldogs unbeaten
The battle between two unbeaten 2A football teams happened at Culver High School Sept. 20, and the Bulldogs came out strong in the second half, beating Gervais 41-8.
Both 2-0, Culver and Gervais met for their first league game of the year. The first half was a tough one for Culver, which struggled with several penalties.
The Bulldogs started with great field position after the Cougars kicked the ball out of bounds to start the game. A blindside block penalty stalled the first drive for the Bulldogs and Culver was forced to punt the ball.
Gervais then had the ball and ran a wing T offense, in which all the players are on the line of scrimmage, except two players just off the line of scrimmage and a fullback right behind the quarterback, who is under the center.
"We put together a whole new defense because you have to attack this offense a little different," head Culver football coach Shea Little said. "We didn't do a great job, even though we held them to 8 points. We had to adjust all week for it and hopefully, we can get back to into football this next week."
The Cougars ran a dive and sweep, setting up third-and-2. On third down, Gervais ran a counter play and the Cougars scored a 66-yard touchdown run. Gervais went for a 2-point conversion, which was successful off a sweep play.
Culver had the ball on offense once again and a few plays in, the Bulldogs scored on a 70-yard counter run by senior running back Zachary Wiseman, but the play was called back due to another flag.
The Bulldogs punted back to Gervais and the Cougars ran a couple short run plays before the end of the first quarter. Gervais had a small 8-0 lead and was then driving the ball on Culver.
A pass interference call on Culver set up Gervais in good field position, but a fumble recovered by Gervais hurt its drive. Culver's defense held strong and Gervais decided to go for it on fourth-and-6. Culver kept them from reaching the first down and the Bulldogs offense came on the field.
The Bulldogs found success on the ground, running power and toss plays with Wiseman, with some counter plays in between. A bad snap made it third-and-11 for Culver, but two great runs by Wiseman gave Culver the first down.
Culver was in the red zone at the 15-yard line and Gervais called a timeout with 3:54 left in the first half.
A counter by Coy Aldrich gave Culver its first points of the game and a point after touchdown (PAT) by Eduardo Penaloza cut Gervais' lead down to 8-7 with 3:04 remaining in the first half.
The Cougars set up a good drive with a mix between a few runs and another pass interference call on Culver. Gervais made it all the way to the 10-yard line with just two seconds left in the half. Gervais ran the ball, but Culver made a great tackle, just short of the end zone and Culver went into halftime down 8-7.
"The first half was not good penalty-wise, intensity, focus, assignments," Little said. "It was kind of the tale of two halfs. I thought we played physical the first half; we just had a lot of mental errors."
"I just told them to calm down, focus on their assignments, fundamentals, and don't get emotional," Little said about halftime adjustments. "Just go back to knowing what they are supposed to do."
In the second half, Culver shut out Gervais on its first offensive series, forcing the team to punt. The Cougars' punt was very short and Jordan VanAstyne had a 10-yard return, putting Culver 34 yards away from the end zone.
Wiseman took the handoff to the right, broke a few tackles, found running room and trucked a Gervais player at the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown run. The PAT was blocked and Culver took a 13-7 lead.
Culver's defense forced another quick three-and-out, giving the Bulldogs the ball again. A counter by Aldrich on fourth-and-5 gained 16 yards, keeping the drive alive.
A completion by Culver quarterback Justyce Loredo to Clayton Mathews for 13 yards would later set up a 3-yard dive by Wiseman for another score. Culver went for the 2-point conversion with a play-action pass to a diving VanAlstyne for a completion and the Bulldogs took a 21-8 lead with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
Gervais found a little success on offense its next drive. A completion over the middle was caught, but VanAlstyne came in flying, laying a big hit on the receiver. The Cougars ran the ball for a couple short yardage plays, but on fourth-and-3, Gervais fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Culver.
Anthony Hood split time with Loredo at quarterback in the fourth quarter and Culver ran the ball with Wiseman, who ran the ball for several large 15- to 20-yard gains. Close to the goal line, Culver scored on a pass from Loredo to Mathews for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good, with a pass from Loredo to Wiseman.
"We are going to try and get Hood more involved and move Loredo around the field a little bit more," Little said. "We have some kids eligible and coming out to play, so we are going to be switching things around a bit."
Culver took a 29-8 lead with 7:48 left in the game. The Bulldogs put different players in on offense and Hunter Augustynovich scored on a 38-yard dive play.
With around 2:17 left in the game, Culver was on offense again and Johan Jaimes was able to score a 40-yard wide receiver sweep, showing off his speed.
The game ended and Culver defeated Gervais 41-8, moving to 3-0 on the season.
"We still need to work on our pass game," he said. "When you get into a game and are successful with something you stick with it, but we do we need a lot more reps in the pass game. Overall, I think the kids did good dealing with adversity."
Wiseman led the Bulldogs with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Aldrich had 44 yards and a touchdown on five carries and Augustynovich ended the game with 38 yards and a touchdown on two carries.
Eight different Bulldogs ran the ball for Culver and the team had 297 rushing yards in the game. Loredo went 4-for-9 for 31 yards and one passing touchdown for Culver. He also completed a pair of 2-point conversions.
"I thought we didn't start off too great, but we got things together in the second half and we need to do that more often," Wiseman said. "We have a great line and they have really been pulling through and making great blocks, building holes for us. I think we need to focus up and keep working on assignments. We had a few mistakes that really cost us in the first half."
Aldrich led the team in tackles with 14 and VanAlstyne and Brody Little both ended the game with 12 tackles. Wiseman also had 11 tackles and Cord Gomes had 10.
Culver (3-0) plays another undefeated team in a nonleague matchup against Weston-McEwen (2-0). The Tigerscots have beaten Central Linn (30-7) and Irrigon (46-6) this season. The Bulldogs play the Tigerscots at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27.
"Weston-McEwen is solid," Little said. "It is going to be a tough game. It will give us a lot of opportunities to work on a lot of stuff. They are a good football team and it is going to be a good battle."
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