by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn running back Conan Baus looks for an open seam in the first quarter of the Bulldogs 63-13 loss to Corvallis. The two teams traded big plays in the first five minutes of Woodburns homecoming game that also doubled as its league opener. The Spartans struck first with a 50-yard touchdown pass on their first series of the game, but Woodburn answered on the ensuing kickoff to tie the game at 7-7. Corvallis returned the favor on their kickoff to take a 14-7 lead, which they held for the remainder of the game.After a pair of close losses at the beginning of the season that were decided by one score, the Woodburn football team went into Friday night’s homecoming game against Corvallis hoping to keep things close.

“The first two games, we were very competitive,” said Woodburn coach Nick Federico. “I felt that we really let those get away from us in one play. One play won it for the other team and one play lost it for us, and it was very exciting.”

The two teams traded big plays to open the game, but the visiting Spartans quickly ran away with the game and handed the Bulldogs a 63-13 blowout loss.

“I was a little disappointed this last game,” said Federico. “Once they got up, we didn’t compete as much.”

Corvallis was the first team to score, connecting on a 52-yard pass down the left side of the field to go up 7-0. But the Bulldogs answered on the ensuing kickoff when junior Daniel Molina squeezed past multiple defenders and took the ball up the left sideline 90 yards for a touchdown to make it a 7-7 game.

Not to be outdone, the Spartans took their next kickoff to the end zone, as the two teams combined to score three touchdowns on three consecutive plays.

Corvallis continued to put the pressure on Woodburn when they scored once more and surprised the Bulldogs with an onside kick that they recovered and converted into a touchdown to go up 28-7 after the first quarter.

With Molina at quarterback, the Bulldogs went on to put together a scoring drive when Conan Baus punched in a 15-yard touchdown to make it 35-13 midway through the second quarter. The Bulldogs failed to score for the rest of the game.

“I was a little disappointed this last game,” said Federico. “Once they got up, we didn’t compete as much.”

While the blowout loss stings, Federico sees it as a learning experience for his young team and he hopes the big loss fuels the Bulldogs to get better in the week leading up to their road game at West Albany on Friday.

“We’ll see today,” Federico said Monday. “How do my kids respond to adversity? What do we do today and how do we fix that, because we’re going to see a better team this Friday.”

Federico is hoping to lean more on his junior class as the season progresses. Skill players like Baus, Molina and Nate Bosquez are learning as they go, but Federico sees in them potential to continue building week to week.

“We’re learning a lot this year,” said Federico. “I know that and the kids know that this is a big building year.

“It’s very exciting to see these juniors not shying away from competition. They’ve really thrived in it. They’ve never given up and they’ve never quit, and they just need to get better each week.”

Molina finished the game going 6-of-16 for 65 yards and an interception. On the ground, he rushed 11 times for 18 yards, often forcing several Corvallis players to miss before going down. Baus was the team’s leading rusher with 51 yards on 12 carries, while Bosquez had six carries and four receptions to combine for 76 total yards.

“Baus ran great. Molina made things happen with his arm and his feet, and Nate’s just Nate. He’s very consistent,”?said Federico.

The Woodburn coach hopes to see his offensive linemen respond this week after allowing the Corvallis pass rush to get into the Bulldog backfield often.

“A couple of those guys are juniors, and they’re first-year players,” Federico said. “Picking up a blitzing linebacker is kind of new to them.

With the schedule only getting tougher as the Mid-Willamette league schedule continues, Federico is eager to see his team respond to adversity and continue to play hard.

“Ever since we started fall camp five weeks ago, they’ve been very solid and eager to learn, even when they were getting beat,” said Federico. “I’m excited to see today and see how our kids respond. That will decide a lot.”

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