PENDLETON — The second quarter of the 86th meeting between the Pendleton Buckaroos and Hermiston Bulldogs was not dominated by the hometown boys in emerald jerseys or the visitors in white. The color yellow spent as much time on the green grass as either team did, part of 31 total penalty flags in play Friday night.
The prominence of penalties — along with a nifty fake punt — helped the Bucks control the clock in a drive that lasted almost the entire quarter.
Facing a fourth down on their own side of the 50-yard line, coach Mitch Sanders called a fake punt play. Tori Eaton did his best Connor Johnson impersonation and tossed a 16-yard completion to keep the drive moving. Moments later, two roughing-the-passer plays erased drive-ending mistakes. One came on a floater thrown by the Bucks quarterback Johnson, and another on a third-and-18 pass that fell incomplete.
“It was mostly just mental mistakes, all the mental errors we made,” said cornerback Ramon Contreras, who’s interception was nullified by a personal foul.
Pendleton ran the clock down to 31 seconds before they finally scored, a 1-yard touchdown from Cain Smith. The score put Pendleton up 13-6.
With all the breaks Pendleton got, Johnson said he felt like the team was destined to make them count.
“I knew we were going to score before half,” the quarterback said. “We needed to and I knew we were going to. Our offense could do that.”
Getting points before half was key, Buckaroo coaches said at halftime, and Pendleton used the seven points as momentum moving into the second half.
The Pendleton side committed its share of penalties on the drive as well, but perhaps the biggest — a holding call right at the goal line — was offset by a Hermiston face masking penalty.