Culver wins home finale
Before this football season, Culver coach Kurt Davis told kicker Juan Terrazas "you could win a game for us."
That win came in a 27-18 victory against Salem Academy on Friday. Terrazas kicked two field goals, three PATs and had a pair of touchbacks in the Tri-River league game.
A 37-yard field goal with 5:40 left was the highlight. It put Culver ahead for good, 20-17. Until then, the visiting Crusaders had scored two unanswered touchdowns for a one-point lead.
"Words can't describe how important that field goal was for us," said senior running back/linebacker Levi Roberts.
That field goal was the start of a 10-0 finish for Culver. Terrazas' kick was eight feet above the crossbar and right down the middle.
"It felt really good when I hit it," said Terrazas who went to Umatilla along with his Culver soccer teammates Saturday. "Before each kick, I make sure I keep my head down. In practice, I've kicked 55 yarders."
It's much warmer in practice though. Terrazas also kicked a 35-yard field goal late in the first half to give Culver a temporary 17-6 lead.
"Juan is a real weapon for us, not only on field goals, but also kickoffs," the Bulldog coach said.
Terrazas had two touchbacks, the second after Culver's clinching touchdown with 2:38 left. Terrazas took over the kickoff duties from Nevin Lewis, out the rest of the regular season. Numerous other Culver players also filled in Lewis' roles at wide receiver and safety.
Miguel Baltazar moved from running back to wide receiver during most of the first half. He had three catches for 44 yards. Roberts moved to tailback with Austin Alley the new fullback.
Roberts ran for 66 of his 80 yards in the first half. Baltazar moved into the backfield in the second half, amassing 62 yards. Baltazar's total included 41 yards on the drive to set up Terrazas' field goal.
"The line did a great job of blocking," Baltazar said of his second-half production. "I'm so small I kind of hide behind the line, especially (Kyle) Fisher."
Most of Baltazar's runs were up the middle. The junior helped clinch the win by breaking outside for 19 yards to the Salem Academy 2. The run came after Culver's defense stopped the Crusaders with less than four minutes to go.
Two plays later, Bulldog quarterback Mike Williams squeezed in for the clinching score.
Culver's defense had its moments as well against a larger Salem Academy squad averaging 24 points a game. The Crusaders had a 300-pound lineman, a 225-pound fullback plus a trio of receivers 6-foot or taller.
"They were as big on the field as they probably looked in the stands," Roberts said. "For us, it's always our speed against the other team's size."
Early on, that speed forced three Salem Academy fumbles. The third set up a 9-yard drive with Roberts scoring on two plays for a 14-0 lead. Culver jumped ahead on its initial possession on a 60-yard drive capped by Gerald Speas' 29-yard catch-and-run play from Williams.
"We had those early fumbles but we didn't take advantage of them like we should have," Davis said. "You always wonder if that'll come back to bite you later."
It seemed likely as Salem Academy went to its passing game. Senior quarterback Brett Patterson completed 11 of 13 passes in the first half for 150 yards.
Salem Academy finished with 174 yards on 16 completions. In the fourth quarter, Patterson moved to receiver with Tyler Montgomery the thrower.
Crusader 6-foot receiver Phil Bonar was busy with seven catches in the first half, capped by a 41-yard touchdown to make it 17-12. Running back/receiver Dan Filipenko (6-2) put Salem Academy on the board with a 41-yard reception early in the second quarter.
The visitors also went to 6-4 Bryan Beaty who had four catches including a 41-yard scoring catch. Some of those Crusader catches were against Culver's 5-5 cornerback Jeremy Thompson.
"I knew I wasn't going to be jumping up to knock down passes against those guys," Thompson said. "The difference for us was getting pressure on their quarterback."
The Bulldogs did in the final quarter. The Crusaders were just 2 of 6 for 12 yards in the fourth quarter. Thompson finished the game with his first interception of the season, returning the ball 25 yards to the Crusader 15.
It allowed Culver to finish its home season unbeaten at 5-0. The lone Bulldog loss with two games left in the regular season was at Scio (37-35) to open Tri-River play.