Tanner Long scores three touchdowns as St. Helens races past the Eagles.

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Brennan Norton (20) runs the ball in the first quarter of the Lions' 37-7 win over Hood River Valley. Norton had 67 yards on seven carries in the victory.After several weeks of disappointing results, the St. Helens Lions (2-3, 0-3 NWOC) finally broke through and found pay dirt. Touchdowns came in bunches, and the defense held Hood River Valley (1-4) fruitless until the fourth quarter. By the time the night was over, the Lions had a blowout win on their hands, thumping the visiting Eagles 37-7 for their first lopsided victory since 2011.

The Lions opened the scoring in the first quarter thanks to a 73-yard drive, but it almost didn’t happen. After racing down the field, the drive stalled near the 20-yard line. St. Helens found themselves facing fourth and 20 from the 21 yard line. Red zone efficiency has been a struggle all season, but this time was different. Senior quarterback Gage Bumgardner stepped up and found Tanner Long, who ran the pass in for the touchdown.

The home team scored again in the first quarter after recovering a fumble on the Eagle’s 34 yard line, but failed on both two point conversions. Yet another turnover in the second quarter led to a quick drive from the Lions, capped by a two yard touchdown run from Chris Gray.

Turnovers were a constant for the Eagles. Late in the second quarter, senior lineman Jacob Zartman broke through the offensive line and hit quarterback Riley Van Hoose as he attempted to hand the ball off. Van Hoose fumbled the ball, and though Luke Bone’s ensuing touchdown on the fumble return was called back, the Lions scored once again to stretch their lead to 31-0 at halftime.

The second half only extended the Lions’ lead. Justin Helgerson intercepted a pair of passes, and Long ran in another score to put St. Helens up 37-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The defensive shutout was broken up by a touchdown from Hood River Valley’s Dallas Buckley late in the fourth quarter, but by that time, the game was out of the Eagles’ hands.

Bumgardner had his most accurate game of the season, completing 12 of 16 passes (.750) for 213 yards two touchdowns. He also played in his second consecutive game without an interception, and for the first time was third in rushing yards behind Long (18 carries, 69 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Brennan Norton (7 carries, 67 yards).

The passing game was also evenly spread around. Six receivers caught passes, including Bryce Bumgardner, whose three receptions averaged 32 yards each with a long of 48.

All in all, it was a balanced attack that got it done for St. Helens. 217 yards on the ground and 213 yards through the air amount for the second most this season behind the five overtime win at Cleveland. It was easily the most passing yards for Bumgardner by more than 80 yards.

Hood River Valley 0 0 0 7 -- 7

St. Helens 12 19 6 0 -- 37

1st Quarter

SH -- Tanner Long 21 pass from Gage Bumgardner (run failed) 3:09

SH -- Devon Jewett 25 pass from Bumgardner (run failed) 2:01

2nd Quarter

SH -- Chris Gray 2 run (run failed) 5:05

SH -- Long 10 run (kick failed) 3:17

SH -- Bumgardner 15 run (Ivan Alcazar kick) 1:07

3rd Quarter

SH -- Long 1 run (kick failed)

4th Quarter

HRV -- Wyatt Webber 15 pass from Dallas Buckley (Martin Lanthaler kick) 3:00

For more extensive coverage of this game, be sure to pick up a copy of the Oct. 4 edition of the Spotlight.

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