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Sherwood downs Hermiston 35-28 to improve to 3-0

by: DAN BROOD - LOOSE BALL -- Sherwood junior Andrew Rice (60) and senior Joseph Balfour go after a Hermiston fumble. SHERWOOD — It sure didn’t start off very well.

But, in the end, it turned out to be a pretty good night for the Sherwood High School football team.

Not only that, but the Bowmen may have also learned a valuable lesson that will help them out during the season.

Sherwood overcame its sluggish start, and a fired-up, physical Hermiston team, to power its way to a 35-28 victory over the Bulldogs in a non-league game played Friday at Sherwood High School.

“This was a good experience,” Sherwood senior quarterback Joseph Balfour said after the victory. “We learned something tonight. And it will help us. We don’t want this to happen again.”

“We learned a lot,” Sherwood senior lineman Nick Rowlands said. “We came out flat tonight. We can’t do that. We have to come out strong every game. Every team is going to give us their best shot, so we have to be ready. We learned something, and I’m glad we got this out of the way tonight.”

by: DAN BROOD - FAST FULLBACK -- Sherwood junior fullback Mickey Schaefer (24) finds running room. Schaefer ran for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win over Hermiston.Hermiston, which lost at Sherwood in a 2011 Class 5A state playoff game, fell to 1-2 on the season with the setback. The Bowmen stayed perfect on the season, moving to 3-0 with the hard-fought victory.

“I think this will be good for us,” Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. “This will be a good lesson for us. It opened our eyes to see that we’re not invincible. I think we may have overlooked them — I might have overlooked them a bit. But it’s good that we found a way to win.”

Sherwood got off to about as bad a start as it could in Friday’s contest. On the game’s very first play from scrimmage, a pass by Balfour was batted in the air and intercepted by Hermiston’s Alex Campbell.

On the very next play following the turnover, Bulldog sophomore quarterback Chase Knutz threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Alejandro Ortiz-Chavez to give Hermiston a 6-0 lead 20 seconds into the game.

Sherwood came storming right back. A 47-yard run by Bowmen senior Cristian Morris helped set up a 31-yard touchdown run by junior Scott Skurdahl. Junior Martin Layna’s extra-point kick gave the Bowmen a 7-6 lead with 10:13 left in the first quarter.

The Bowmen pushed their lead to 14-6 when junior fullback Mickey Schaefer capped off an 84-yard drive with a 10-yard run coming with 5:35 left in the second quarter.

But Hermiston got an 8-yard TD pass from Knutz to junior running back Trenten Anteau with 16.4 seconds left in the period. The Bulldogs added a two-point conversion pass from Knutz to senior tight end David üBarnett to tie the game at 14-14 going into halftime.

“We had a good talk at halftime,” Morris said. “A lot of leaders stepped up.”

The Bowmen, after getting a defensive stop to start the third quarter, put together an eight-play, 95-yard scoring drive in their first offensive possession of the second half.

A 51-yard run by Skurdahl helped set up a 17-yard play-action touchdown pass from Balfour to senior tight end Jacob Brooks.

“That was nice,” Balfour said. “He’s a good tight end.”

The TD toss gave Sherwood a 21-14 lead with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

But Hermiston, following a 64-yard return by Ortiz-Chavez on the ensuing kickoff, got a 1-yard touchdown blast by Anteau to tie the game at 21-21 with 1:04 left in the period.

Sherwood would answer back gain, getting a 38-yard touchdown run by Balfour on a bootleg sprint around the right end, giving the Bowmen a 28-21 advantage with 5:26 remaining in the game.

“That was his idea to run that play,” Lawrence said.

“We were looking to go to the backside,” Balfour said. “And they bit on it.”

The Sherwood defense then stepped up. Hermiston, looking to tie the game, moved the ball into Sherwood territory, getting a first-down at the Bowmen 49-yard line. But, the Bulldogs were pushed back to their own 40-yard line on a first-down sack by Bowmen sophomore Saul Urzua.

Then, after a pair of incomplete passes, Rowlands sacked Knutz way back at the Hermiston 30-yard line on fourth down.

“I usually have contain,” Rowlands said. “But, on that play, I was inside and I got to go right at the quarterback.”

The big sack helped set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Schaefer coming with 16.3 seconds left to play, making the score 35-21.

Hermiston junior Ramon Contreras returned the ensuing kickoff 71 yards for a touchdown to trim the margin to 35-28 with 2.7 seconds remaining, but Sherwood junior Ryan Pino recovered the ensuing onside kick to wrap up the victory.

“It was a good game,” Morris said. “They gave us more than we thought. I think this game will be good for us. We learned not to overlook anyone.”

Sherwood, behind the blocking of Rowlands at center, guards Harrison Shelburne and Joseph Chamberlain and tackles Travis Kotowski and Michael Alley, among others, rushed for 453 yards on 54 carries as a team.

Schaefer led the rushing attack with 151 yards on 20 carries. Morris added 115 yards on just seven carries and Skurdahl ran for 87 yards on six carries.

For Morris, who missed almost his entire junior season due to an injury, Friday’s game marked the third straight contest that he’s rushed for more than 100 yards.

“I’m definitely back at full speed,” he said with a smile. “I want to make up for last year.”

For the Bowmen defense, Rowlands, Balfour, junior Jordan Kurahara and Urzua each had a quarterback sack.

For Hermiston, Anteau ran for 60 yards on 20 carries. Knutz completed 11 of 21 passes for 159 yards. Ortiz-Chavez had four receptions for 72 yards.

Sherwood will be back in action next Friday when it plays at St. Helens in a Northwest Oregon Conference game starting at 7 p.m. The Lions are 1-2 on the season and 0-2 in NWOC play. Sherwood is 1-0 in league play going into Friday’s game at St. Helens.

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