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Bulldogs fall to 0-6, but still have confidence that they can turn their season around.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - The Bulldogs were unable to do much on the ground against Grant Union's stout run defense last Friday, so they instead switched to pass-heavy playcalling.
The score after one quarter was not in Culver's favor, but had you asked the team how they felt going into halftime, they would have liked their chances.

Facing Grant Union (4-1) at home last Friday, Culver (0-6) gave up three touchdowns in the first quarter and trailed 22-0 in an eventual 52-7 defeat.

The third score, just before the end of the quarter, appeared to signal that the Bulldogs' defense was breaking down.

Facing third and 15 near midfield with 47 seconds remaining first quarter, Grant Union dialed up a run and it worked to perfection. Cameron Hallgrath received the handoff from quarterback Wade Reimers, and Hallgrath proceeded to break several tackles en route to a 49-yard touchdown.

Yet the Bulldogs hung around — for a little while.

After Jerron Rhen sacked Reimers on third and short, Zach Wiseman stopped him on a quarterback keeper attempt on fourth down.

The next Grant Union possession, Reimers was stripped of the ball, which Culver recovered.

Then, only two yards out from the goal line, Grant Union again called for Reimers to sneak past the Culver defense, but Joe Russo stopped him short on fourth and goal.

"We went into halftime and I told them, 'You guys are proving that you can hang with these guys,'" Culver head coach Jesus Retano said. "People probably think I'm crazy, but I told them, 'We play them again, I put my money on you guys beating them.'"

That certainly could have been a possibility, had the Bulldogs' offense been able to take pressure off the defense.

Culver quickly found out that Grant Union's imposing defensive line left little running room, so the Bulldogs' coaches adjusted to almost exclusively calling pass plays.

In theory, it was the right decision. Grant Union had trouble keeping the Bulldogs' receivers covered, but for several reasons, the passing rhythm never fully developed.

Weston Basl led Culver with three receptions for 81 yards, and Torres scored the team's lone touchdown on a screen pass from Jorge Olivera, which Torres took 51 yards to the house.

Aside from those plays, Culver was plagued by several dropped passes that receivers should have caught, as well as mistimed passes and routes.

Much of Culver's offensive success in prior weeks had been on the ground with Torres, but the Grant Union game forced the Bulldogs to go away from those calls.

"They tried to play us man to man, and our running game wasn't working," Retano said. "They were just big up front. If they want to cover up the receivers, then we'll throw it. There were just a couple times where we dropped the ball ... Our receivers are better than that. They just need to realize they can't count on Vic (every week), and they will."

With two Columbia Basin Conference games left to be played, at Heppner and against Weston-McEwen at home, Retano maintains that the team is confident their season can still be turned around.

The Bulldogs will get an opportunity to do so at Heppner on Friday at 7 p.m. The Mustangs (2-3) most recently beat Weston-McEwen 52-12 on Sept. 29.

"They have a good head coach (Greg Grant) over there who's been coaching since before I was in high school," Retano said. "He runs a good program. We just gotta go up there and beat them ... It would be a great win for the kids and a great win for a first-year head coach."

Contact Will Denner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow him on Twitter
@MadrasSports, @WillCDenner

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