Tuesday, September 4, 2001
Friday night's football season opener between the Hood River Valley Eagles and the Mountain View Cougars in Bend promised to be an offensive shootout.
Hood River and its smash-mouth rushing offense on one side, Mountain View and its feared passing attack on the other.
Both teams lived up to their billing, combining for a total of 91 points and 985 yards in the back-and-forth battle that wasn't decided until the final minute.
Hood River Valley ran the ball on all but four offensive plays for a total of 502 yards and six touchdowns. Mountain View threw the ball just as often, completing 19 of 40 pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
In the end, Mountain View emerged with a 47-44 victory, after Pat Tyvand's over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the endzone with under one minute to play.
"We know in our hearts we should have won this game," HRV coach Mitch Sanders said. "We just made too many critical mistakes and ended up giving them a lot of freebies."
One of the "freebies" that Sanders is referring to is the fourth-and-ten play on the final drive with HRV holding a slim 44-40 lead. Deep in his own end, Mountain View running back Chris Rauch scrambled around left tackle for a 40-yard gain, setting up quarterback Curt Plant's winning pass, and deflating the Eagles spirited comeback.
Just before the Cougars' game-winning drive, Hood River had put together what it thought was a winning drive of its own, coming from behind for the third time in the second half to take the lead.
Fullback James Maher started the drive with a 12-yard run on the first play. Wes Martens had a 14-yard first down and later earned a crucial first down on a fourth-and-two to preserve the drive.
The Eagles' offensive line continued to pound away at the Cougars' inexperienced front seven, and eventually opened a big hole for Maher to ramble 28 yards down to the Cougar 15 yard line. Maher capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 44-40 with two minutes to play.
"We would have liked to have thrown the ball more," Sanders said, "but they couldn't stop our running game. Why mix it up if it's working?"
Hood River's running game not only worked. It dominated.
Maher carried the bulk of the load with 20 carries for 219 yards and four TD's. Martens -- who appeared to be a marked man by the Cougars' linebacking corps -- chipped in with 149 yards on 23 carries and one TD. Jacobe Krizman rounded out the rushing attack with 123 yards on 18 carries and one TD.
Sanders was quick to point out that his offensive line deserved much of the credit for the 502-yard rushing exhibition.
"We were very happy with O-line play," Sanders said. "We have some solid rushers, but they depend on the line to open those holes."
Despite the awesome statistical output, Sanders said the team must work on holding onto the football and blocking in the backfield. One statistic the team would like to forget is the five fumbles -- four of which were lost.
The Eagles have a bye week this week to work on their ball control and defense. They take the field again Sept. 14 against Dallas in the home opener.