A fast start by Hermiston turned into a back-and-forth affair Friday night as the Bulldogs held off the Bend Lava Bears, 35-32, on Homecoming night at Kennison Field.
Trailing in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Andrew James connected with Dayshawn Neal to put the Bulldogs up for good, 35-32.
Hermiston got off to a hot start when James hit Neal over the middle on the first series for an 85-yard touchdown pass.
Running back Jonathan Hinkle nearly scored on a 64-yard touchdown run, but was brought down at the 1 yard line. He carried it in for the score on the next play to make it 14-0.
Bend got on the board with a safety, but Hermiston came right back when Joey Gutierrez intercepted Cooper Simmonds and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown.
What looked like a potential blowout turned into a shootout when Bend scored 24 straight points to take a 26-21 lead. Hermiston regained the upper hand on another touchdown pass from James to Neal to make it 29-26.
Bend re-took the lead in the fourth before James hit Neal for the game-winning score. The win was Hermiston’s fourth in a row and snapped Bend’s five-game winning streak. The win improves Hermiston to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in Special District 1 play. Bend now sports the same overall and league record as Hermiston.
James finished the night 11-of-15 for 211 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Hinkle led the way on the ground with 141 rushing yards on 16 carries. Neal caught just three passes, but they were all for scores and he racked up 122 yards.
The Bulldogs will remain home next week when they host the 1-6 Redmond Panthers.