Stanfield holds on for dramatic, 22-20 win at Culver
Down to the wire, the fate of Culver's homecoming game against Stanfield was decided on a field goal attempt.
The Bulldogs played host to the Tigers on Friday in Culver, a game that pitted two winless teams against each other. The game featured four lead changes, and the deficit was never bigger than seven for either side. It was evident that both teams were desperate to claim its first victory.
Stanfield tied the score, 20-20, at the 5:41 mark of the fourth quarter, when Shayne Keltz found a wide-open Mason Smith in the end zone for an 11-yard score. The Tigers then went for two, where Adrian Renner bounced outside and snuck in a two-yard run. The Tigers' 22-20 lead was enough to hold on for a win in the end, but the game wasn't without some last-minute drama.
Culver forced a Stanfield punt late in the fourth quarter, and took over on the Stanfield 40-yard line. The Bulldogs called on junior running back Victor Torres, who had already accounted for two of three Culver touchdowns, to gain positive yardage.
Torres gained a couple first downs, the latter of which, an 8-yard run out of bounds, advanced Culver to the 15 and stopped the clock with 35 seconds remaining.
On the following two plays, Stanfield's defense held strong at the line of scrimmage, as Torres gained only three yards between first and second downs.
With the clock continue to tick under 20 seconds, Culver rushed to get its kicking unit on to attempt a 27-yard, game-winning field goal. Holder Weston Basl fielded a low snap, and Jorge Olivera was able to get kick off, but it sailed just left of the goal post. Stanfield (1-3) held on for its first win of the season, while Culver moved to 0-4.
"We were trying to get out of bounds, trying to save the time," said Torres, who rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns on . "The ref told us we didn't have anymore timeouts left, so coach (Jesus Retano) was like, 'We have to go for a field goal' … We just got to come back as a team (and) get our heads together. Some things don't go our way, but you gotta push through it; you gotta trust the process."
Only a year ago, Stanfield was playing in the 2A state championship game, before losing to Regis.
The Tigers (1-3, 1-0 CBC) lost a lot of senior leadership from last year's team, and it has showed from their start to the season. But they remain a team capable of exlopding at any moment.
Minus a few big plays that Culver allowed, it largely held Stanfield in check.
The Bulldogs forced the Tigers to go three and out their first offensive possession. Six plays later, Culver found the end zone with a 15-yard run from Torres, and Olivera kicked through the extra point.
Then in the third quarter, after Stanfield had taken an 8-7 lead thanks to Adrian Renner's 80-yard touchdown run, Culver answered. Twice.
Torres found another big hole and broke loose for a 39-yard gain, which set up Joe Russo's 3-yard touchdown run.
Later in the third, Torres scored again, that time from 50 yards out, to give the Bulldogs a 20-8 lead.
In the end, it wasn't enough. Stanfield scored on each of its following two possessions, and took the lead on what turned out to be a crucial two-point conversion.
But Culver came within seconds — and inches — of tasting victory.
Will the close loss propel the Bulldogs forward? Their coach thinks so.
"The kids now know that they can do it," Retano said. "I just need them to believe. I don't want them to go out with the mentality, 'I hope we win,' but (instead) the mentality of, 'I know we're going to win.'"
Culver faces Grant Union (3-1) Friday at home.
Stanfield 22, Culver 20
Stanfield 0 8 0 14 — 22
Culver 7 0 6 7 — 20
Culver — Victor Torres 20-yard run (Jorge Olivera kick)
Stanfield — Adrian Renner 80-yard run (Kiah Blankenship two-point conversion)
Culver — Joe Russo 3-yard run (conversion failed)
Culver — Torres 45-yard run (Olivera kick)
Stanfield — Shayne Keltz 62-yard pass to Justin Keeney (conversion failed)
Stanfield — Keltz 11-yard pass to Mason Smith (Renner two-point conversion)
Check out the Madras Pioneer's Oct. 4 edition for expanded coverage.