By Brian Liebenstein
Senior quarterback Travis Lulay connected with his Regis High receivers often enough Friday to cut short Culver High School's stay in this year's Oregon 2A state football tournament.
"Our kids play tough but they made a few mistakes. That's a good team. I'm proud of our kids for not giving up. They ran some good stuff against our defense," Culver co-head coach Ed Legace said after the game won by Regis, 29-7.
Stopping the Rams challenged the Bulldogs throughout the game. While not as successful at running the ball, Regis did well enough on the ground to make its passing successful.
Its pass defense was equally effective for Regis. Two Regis interceptions stopped Culver drives. Both happened in the second quarter. On the first, Regis took over near its 20 holding only a 12-0 lead. The interceptions helped make the victory margin larger than the action's intensity indicated.
Yet, the Regis linemen controlled the line of scrimmage.
Located in Stayton, Regis earned the home field advantage as champion of the Tri-River League. It will battle Dayton, a team it lost to in an earlier non-league game, in the second round of the playoffs. A second-seed, to top-ranked Amity, Dayton won at Lost River in its first round game.
Lulay completed 20 of 23 passes for two touchdowns and 240 yards.
Culver finished its season 8-2 after going 8-1 and taking second in the Columbia Basin Conference behind Heppner.
The Regis roster included three more Lulays besides Travis. Casey Lulay was listed as an offensive and defensive line member for Regis, while junior Ryan Lulay intercepted Culver quarterback Jared Adams only minutes after a touchdown pass from Travis Lulay to sophomore Tyler Lulay.
Culver tried passing when its efforts to run with Mark Coy, Nick Hagman and Anthony Alley were stifled. Coy had Culver's longest run, of 25 yards, but finished with less than Adams according to the Regis statistics. Adams was listed as Culver's leading rusher with 57 yards.
Daniel Weis put Regis ahead for good with his two-yard touchdown only four minutes into the game. A reverse on the game-opening kickoff let Regis enter Culver territory.
Regis increased its lead in the second quarter. A drive capped on a three-yard pass from Travis to Tyler Lulay left Regis ahead 12-0 with more than 10 minutes left in the half.
Stopping Culver on its next drive, Regis advanced into the endzone a second time in a matter of minutes. Travis Lulay found Ricky Brentano running right to left (from Lulay's perspective) across the endzone from 16 yards to cap a drive started on an interception. Travis Lulay also kicked the extra point after Brentano's catch.
Coy bulled to some first-half first downs but the Bulldogs were bottled up at key times by Regis.
Regis' defense bent after Coy returned the Regis kickoff after its second touchdown out to the 38. But Culver's visit into Regis territory ended when a pass from Adams intended for Brennan Whitakker was intercepted by Ryan Lulay.
The ensuing drive, capped by Brentano's score, included passes from Travis Lulay to Mike Bielmeier and Nick Smith. Some penalties against Culver also helped the drive.
Culver was penalized at least twice as often -- and for larger amounts of yardage -- as Regis.
Penalties slowed Culver's momentum but it was the Regis defense which stopped the Bulldogs' offense. Regis rammed Culver's blockers back into the backfield at times as some runs ended even before they had a chance to develop.
Culver kept answering most of the challenges, including the one after the touchdown and kick which made it 19-0.
Coy burst free on his kickoff return and might have advanced further into Regis territory if not caught from the side at the 47 of Regis. Adams put Culver inside the 40 with a run but Regis responded with a tackle for a loss by junior Casey Bochsler. Culver used a time out on fourth down from the Regis 47 to set up a play which turned into a keeper by Adams that gained Culver a first down at the Regis 20. But Regis had its defense ready for a halfback pass attempt just one play later and intercepted Coy near the 10.
Moving down the field with quick passes and time outs, Regis got into position for the five-yard touchdown by Weis which left it ahead 26-0 at halftime.
The hard hitting Regis did in that first half and throughout the game was reflected by Culver's Hagman, who commented "I don't really think I'm all here," after the game. He said Regis played tough.
But taking good hits didn't make the Bulldogs quit. Culver kept gaining yardage in the second half, only to have penalties take some of it away.
Regis retained enough control so that as the second half progressed a group of substitutes were put into action by both teams.
A field goal by Travis Lulay as the third quarter expired proved the final points from Regis.
Culver got on the scoreboad in the fourth quarter.
Adams found Whittaker for Culver's final touchdown of the season before an extra point kick by Nate Lewis. The game eventually ended with Regis in possession. Whittaker's two catches on that late scoring drive for Culver gave him the team lead.
Regis coach Kirk Miller said the Rams went with the same offensive schemes they had been using all year in distributing to ball to all parts of the field whether passing or running.
Tyler Lulay was the leading receiver with six catches for Regis while Bielmeier and Austin Highberger added five each.
Culver senior center Ross McWilliams said it was hard to get ready for what Regis might do next defensively as well as offensively.