OROVILLE – Homecoming festivities often lend themselves to uneven performances on the football field, and Oroville’s first quarter on Friday, Oct. 26, was no exception.
The Hornets gave up a long drive and the opening touchdown to huge underdog Bridgeport and trailed 6-0 after the first quarter.
The Mustangs, though, jump-started the Hornets with a number of mistakes, and Oroville responded by exploding with 42 points in the second and third quarters on the way to a 57-12 victory.
The win clinched at least a tie for the final Central Washington League state playoff spot. Final seedings won’t be determined until next week’s games, though the Hornets are finished with league play.
It took most of the first half before the Hornets began to resemble the team they’ve been while winning four of their last five games.
Bridgeport held onto the ball for most of the first half, running 40 of the first 52 offensive plays, including 21 of the first 24. The hard running of big fullback Jonathan Oregon, as well as sweeps outside by Tanner Varrelman, kept the Hornets on their heels.
But after taking their early lead, the Mustangs undid their own work, including a bad snap over the head of quarterback Gerry Solorio that set up the Hornets’ first touchdown, a 3-yard run by quarterback Luke Kindred on the first play of the second quarter.
Another bad snap for a 21-yard loss killed the Mustangs’ next drive, and after a punt and penalty the Hornets only needed to go 12 yards for a touchdown. Kindred capped the three-play drive with a 10-yard pass to Angel Camacho.
Bridgeport twice drove deep into Oroville territory in the second quarter, but coughed up a fumble on one drive and came up short on a fake field goal try with 1:30 left in the half.
The Hornets took the ball at their own 11 and needed just two plays — including a 66-yard touchdown pass from Kindred to Tanner Smith — that made it 21-6 and swung momentum firmly the Hornets’ way.
Another bad snap for a safety led off the Hornets’ scoring in the third quarter. Oroville added a 1-yard Logan Mills run, a 17-yard run by Kindred and a 1-yard run by Connelly Quick for a 42-6 lead after three quarters.
The Hornets got a 75-yard kickoff return by Tanner Smith and a 26-yard run from Trevor Shearer to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Solorio connected with Jamison Schroeder for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter against the Hornet reserves.
After such a lopsided first half in terms of plays run, the Hornets turned the tables in the third quarter, running 22 plays from scrimmage to Bridgeport’s eight.
Kindred led a balanced offensive attack with 84 yards rushing on nine carries while completing 3-of-4 passes for 81 yards. Dustin Nigg ran for 63 yards on seven carries.
Defensively, Camacho, Mick Fulmer, Jake Scott and Kyle Scott led the Hornets.
The Hornets (5-4, 4-2 Central Washington League) have finished league play, but the rest of the league’s seven teams face off in Week 10.
Kittitas (6-0 in league play) has already clinched the league’s top seed into the state tournament.
Liberty Bell (3-2) hosts White Swan (4-1) on Friday, Nov. 2, in the one game that has playoff implications. If White Swan wins, the Cougars will take the league’s No. 2 seed, with the Hornets finishing No. 3.
If Liberty Bell beats White Swan, the Mountain Lions, Cougars and Hornets will all finish with 4-2 records and will have each beaten one of the other two teams. That will force a mini-playoff between the three to determine which two will advance to the playoffs and which one will stay home.
The Hornets finish regular-season play on Saturday, Nov. 3, with a non-league game at Chief Leschi (Puyallup).