Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, November 22, 2017, Page A12, Image 12

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    A12 • HERMISTONHERALD.COM
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2017
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OSAA 5A FOOTBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP | Saturday, Nov. 25, at 6 p.m. • Hillsboro Stadium
ONE
STEP
AHEAD
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHUP
No. 4 Churchill Lancers (12-0) vs.
No. 3 Hermiston Bulldogs (10-2)
Hermiston’s QB Andrew James went 10-of-17 passing
for 164 yards, and carried the ball 12 times for 82 yards
and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 35-27 win over
Wilsonville in the 5A semifinals in Hillsboro.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHASE ALLGOOD/THE OREGONIAN
QB James keeps his standout
season going as he leads the
Bulldogs to 5A state title game
By ERIC SINGER
STAFF WRITER
C
arrying the lead but losing momen-
tum, Andrew James and the Hermis-
ton Bulldogs were facing a 3rd-and-10
from midfield as the time on the fourth
quarter clock slowly ticked away.
The Bulldogs were grasping tight to a 29-20 lead
in the Class 5A semifinal game on Saturday, and a
failure to pick up the first down would give Wil-
sonville the ball back with plenty of time to make
a dent in its deficit. However, there was no panic
amongst the Bulldogs on the field or sidelines.
James, the Bulldogs’ junior quarterback, relayed
the play to his team, walked to the line and sur-
veyed the defense. He received the snap, made a
quick three-step drop and threw a confident throw
to a wide-open Dayshawn Neal for a 19-yard gain
and a crucial first down.
The throw was just one of the 10 passes James
completed, but perhaps none was more important.
It set up Hermiston’s final score of the game as the
Bulldogs defeated Wilsonville 35-27 to advance to
the Class 5A state championship game under the
lights of Hillsboro Stadium.
“That play, we knew it was going to be there,”
Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “We knew
he (Andrew) could make the throw, we knew
Dayshawn was going to catch the ball, we knew he
was going to be open.”
The clutch play was the latest example of the
maturation of James as a quarterback for the Bull-
dogs. As a sophomore last season, James flashed
his potential throughout Hermiston’s 10-game sea-
son, throwing for more than 1,900 yards with 18
touchdowns while rushing for 624 more yards with
another seven touchdowns. But throughout the
same games, he also showed the growing pains of
relying on a young, inexperienced quarterback with
a mediocre 57 percent completion rate with a com-
bined 15 turnovers.
This season as a junior, however, James has
grown as a quarterback and in the meantime helped
his Hermiston offense transform into a unit oppos-
ing defenses are scared to face. He has the ability to
make most throws, such as a 26-yard toss to Jordan
Ramirez in the first quarter Saturday, where James
Hermiston’s Dayshawn Neal celebrates following a
play during the Bulldogs’ 35-27 win over Wilsonville
in the 5A semifinals on Saturday in Hillsboro.
rolled to his right and then threw off-balance across
the field to Ramirez running deep and connected
with his receiver to set up Hermiston’s first touch-
down of the game. He also had the awareness to
operate the read-option run game to near perfection.
He finished Saturday’s semifinal completing
10-of-17 passes for 164 yards, and also ran the ball
12 times for 82 yards with one touchdown, a five-
yard scamper on a quarterback draw in the third
quarter which gave Hermiston a 29-14 lead at the
time.
Now through 12 games this season, James has
2,211 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and just
five interceptions and is also Hermiston’s sec-
ond-leading rusher with more than 1,000 yards
with six touchdowns. He says he owes his improve-
ment to a better relationship with everyone on the
offense.
“I mean, it’s a confidence I’ve built with the
guys,” James said on Saturday. “I trust every sin-
gle one of them on the field and that’s what happens
when you have that trust.”
James and Hermiston’s offense picked apart
Wilsonville’s defense on Saturday night, piling up
471 yards of offense. The Bulldogs punted on their
first two possessions, but found the end zone first
on a seven-yard scamper by Jonathan Hinkle to go
up 8-0 with 2:12 left in the first quarter. The rest
of the way, Hermiston established itself with a suc-
cessful run game — thanks to a dominant offensive
line — that opened up some big plays in the passing
game to beat the Wildcats.
“I mean they (Wilsonville) brought pressure the
whole game but we found those little creases when
we ran the ball, we found the little holes when we
passed the ball,” James said. “It was the little things
that got us through.”
Hinkle carried a pile five yards for his second
touchdown in the second quarter and Peter Earl
busted a 45 yard touchdown run midway through
the second quarter to give Hermiston a surprising
22-0 lead. Wilsonville began to figure out Hermis-
ton’s defense as the first half came to a close, with
the Wildcats finally finding the end zone with 21
seconds left, giving them momentum into the sec-
ond half.
“(Faaeteete) said don’t let up,” James recalled
from the halftime talk. “Great teams try to come
back and that’s what they (Wilsonville) did. We just
had to stop them and that’s what we did.”
The Wildcats got within 22-14 but the Bull-
dogs answered on the next drive when Hinkle
ripped off a 67 yard run to get inside the Wildcat
10, and James finished off the drive with a touch-
down run. Wilsonville again got on the board early
in the fourth on a five-yard run by Cooper Mootz to
make it 29-20 before Hermiston’s crucial drive was
capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Keaton
Mikami on 4th-and-goal.
James was also a leader on defense Saturday
with seven total tackles, part of a unit that forced
two turnovers, two turnovers-on-downs inside the
red zone, and tallied four sacks. Wilsonville did
tally more than 400 yards of total offense, but the
Bulldogs’ early successes put the Wildcats in a hole
that proved to be too big to dig out of.
“We were playing with a killer mindset,” Herm-
iston senior Joe Gutierrez said, “and when we play
like that our defense rolls.”
Now, Hermiston will get back to practice as they
prepare for No. 4 Churchill in the state champion-
ship game on Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. at Hillsboro Sta-
dium. And James will get another week to make
himself a household name in Oregon.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” James said of the
chance to play for a title. “Our guys worked so hard,
our line, just everyone, and it just feels so good.”
BROADCAST COVERAGE | NFHS Network (Video LIVE) • AM 1360 KOHU (Hermiston)