Hermiston’s Wyatt Noland fell 9 yards short of a school rushing record on Homecoming night in the Bulldogs’ wild 61-42 win Friday over the Eisenhower Cadets at Kennison Field.
The senior running back tallied 303 yards – yes, that’s a 3 in front of the 03 – and four scores to help lead the Bulldogs in a non-conference win. The school record is 314 yards by Bobby Adams in 2011.
Hermiston’s offense clicked all night long against the Cadets. Senior quarterback Andrew James got the scoring off early with a 19-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs the lead, 7-0.
After recovering a fumble by Eisenhower on their first possession, the Bulldogs quickly scored again on the first of Noland’s touchdowns, this one a 39-yard scamper to put Hermiston up, 14-0, with just over 7 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Cadets got on the board just before the first quarter ended on a 1-yard touchdown run. The Bullogs were able to push it to a 14-point lead once again when James hit Youbani Razon on a screen pass for a score early in the second quarter.
On their next possession, James used his legs to give Hermiston a 28-7 lead on a 34-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes left in the half.
Hermiston threatened to turn the game into an early rout when Razon intercepted a pass by Eisenhower quarterback Drew Kornagay, giving Hermiston the ball on the Cadet 37 yard line. Aided by an 18-yard pass from James to Garrett Walchli to the Eisenhower 13, the Bulldogs used their running game to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Noland to put Hermiston up, 34-7, with more than 5 minutes left in the half.
Eisenhower answered, however, with a 37-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 34-14 with just over 2 minutes left in the second quarter.
What seemed at the time to be a backbreaker play, Jordan Ramirez took the ensuing kickoff and ran it 90 yards for a touchdown to give Hermiston a 41-14 lead. The Cadets, however, wouldn’t quit and scored again with just 20 seconds left in the half to cut Hermiston’s lead to 41-21 at the break.
On the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Noland picked up where he left off by taking the ball and running 58 yards for the score to make it 48-14.
Eisenhower’s offense, however was just starting to get warmed up. On their next possession, senior running back Damien Pacheco scored on a 1-yard plunge with 4:47 left in the third.
After forcing Hermiston to punt, Eisenhower scored again, this time on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kornagay to Drew Reyes to cut Hermiston’s lead to 48-35 early in the fourth quarter.
Hermiston was helped by a long kickoff return by Ramirez to give them the ball on the Eisenhower 47. James used his powerful legs to carry defenders along with him on a 26-yard run that set up his final score of the night – a 1-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 54-35 lead with just over 8 minutes left in the game.
Late in the game, Eisenhower was forced to punt, but a roughing the kicker call gave the Cadets a new set of downs and they took full advantage by driving down field and scoring to cut Hermiston’s lead to 54-42 with 3:45 left in the game.
Hermiston finally iced it for good on – you guessed it – another long touchdown run by Noland, this time a 65 yard dash to give the Bulldogs the final score of 62-42.
Hermiston improves to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-Columbia Conference. They will travel to Richland next week to take on the 6-1 Hanford Falcons before wrapping up the regular season at home against the Kamiakin Braves, who are 4-3, but like Hermiston, currently 4-2 in the conference.