Special teams lead Culver to win
Efficient yes, but Culver didn't overwhelm Lakeview in a 27-6 nonleague victory Friday at Bulldog Stadium.
It looked overwhelming early as Culver blocked a punt and scored two plays later. It was the first of three short-field drives totaling 34 yards.
Each quick score was set up by a big special teams play. The plays helped Culver improve to 4-0 a day after retaining its No. 1 ranking in the 2A coaches poll.
"Good teams find a way to win and we did tonight," Bulldog coach Kurt Davis said. "We had too many stupid penalties and mistakes. Those are things we can correct. It was a win, but honestly it wasn't a pretty win."
Yes, but the start was pretty. Culver's defense stuffed three running plays. Then Matt Zachery blocked a Honker punt and recovered it at Lakeview's 7.
Two runs later, Culver super sophomore Nevin Lewis was in the end zone. It would be the first of two his short scoring runs.
"It was a good start and we got done what we wanted to get done," said senior lineman Kyle Fisher who helped knock the Honker runners back five yards on their opening three plays.
A rout seemed on a week after a 43-6 thumping at Riverside (in Boardman).
"After that start, maybe we let up a little," senior linebacker Levi Roberts said.
An unsportsmanlike penalty was a factor in the Honker's next possession. It was called after a Honker was tackled in the backfield, extending the visitor's drive.
Lakeview didn't score on that possession, or any offensive effort. The Honkers did keep the ball away from the Bulldog offense with 54 plays. Lakeview ran the ball 48 times but 13 rushes were for negative yards.
Lakeview used tighter formations against Culver instead of a wide-open look it showed in its first two games.
"We had to adjust to that and that's what we'll be facing this season," Davis said. "Our defense did its job in not allowing a touchdown."
The defense did force Lakeview to punt, setting up big plays.
Late in the second quarter, a bad snap resulted in a 17-yard Honker loss. Culver scored three plays later on Lewis' 5-yard run. An 18-yard pass play from Mike Williams to Jeremy Thompson set up the short run.
Lakeview was able to punt in the third quarter, but Lewis waiting for the ball. His 45-yard punt return late in the third quarter put his team at the Honker 4. Miguel Baltazar pushed the ball in one play later.
Lewis also intercepted two passes. One ended the first half and another in the fourth quarter at Culver's 15 to stop Lakeview's final scoring chance.
"We call Nevin our superman," Roberts said. "He's always making big plays."
Lewis had help even if the Bulldogs weren't generating huge offensive numbers. At Riverside, Culver rolled up more than 500 yards of offense compared to 199 against the Honkers.
The visitors managed to slow the Bulldog passing attack. Williams had more than 800 yards in the opening three games but 75 against Lakeview.
Most of those yards came in Culver's only sustained drive, 56 yards to open the second half. William connected with Thompson for 11 yards on a third-down play and finished the drive with an audible.
The senior quarterback found tight end Gerald Speas open for a 6-yard completion.
"The way the defense was lined up, I knew Gerald would be open in the middle," Williams said. "If Gerald was covered, then the back (Baltazar) would've been open."
Baltazar was also busy on the drive with four carries for 44 yards. The workhorse finished with 116 yards on 21 carries.
The running countered Lakeview's attempts to stop Culver's passing. Williams suffered his first two interceptions plus his first sack of the season.
The first interception came on a first-half screen pass. The second in the third quarter, resulting in a 55-yard interception return by Harold Down. The Honker defensive back positioned himself between two Culver wide receivers and broke on the ball.
"I didn't see that guy at all," Williams said. "He made a great play on the ball. It just wasn't my night (passing). They really covered Nevin."
Lewis came into the game with 21 catches for 380 yards. He had just two for 11 yards against the Honkers.
The contest gave Culver a lesson in being ranked No. 1 in the 2A coaches poll, Roberts said.
"We're ranked No. 1 and we have a bull's-eye on us," Roberts said. "It's so different for this program from where we were three seasons ago (3-6 overall in 2004)."
Notes: Fisher had a 5-yard carry, his second of the season. The senior lineman ran for 35 yards at Riverside and scored a touchdown last season. ... ... Williams is still moving closer to his school's all-time passing mark. He has 929 yards with the third best at 986 by Chris Dix in 2002. The school record is 1,478 yards by James Macy in 1995. Lewis is closing in on the reception record with 23 catches in the opening four games. At No. 3 is Nate Boyer's 34 in 1998. The record is 43 by his older brother Nate in 2002. ... Culver is the only unbeaten Tri-River team remaining after Santiam (2-1) fell to unbeaten Nestucca 30-7. The 4-0 Bobcats are in the Northwest League as is No. 2 Portland Christian. One of the state's marquee games is a battle of 4-0 teams when Veronica (4-0) travels to Portland Christian. ... Blanchet suffered its second loss, falling to 3A Gold Beach 20-19. Salem Academy had plenty of drama in its win against Corbett, winning 28-22 in double overtime. Salem Academy recovered four fumbles, one on defense in the second overtimes and returning another 44-yards for a touchdown. Crusader defensive leader Brian Beaty was involved in 20 tackles.