Sports Zone

CHS wins rain-soaked rivalry

PLEASANT HILL – Friday nights have been dry up until this point in the season, and the first rain-soaked game of the year didn’t disappoint as the Creswell Bulldogs made the short trip up to Pleasant Hill and beat the Billies 14-7 on a night that saw a lot of rain and turnovers, but not much offense.

In fact, it took just over 46 minutes for either offense to find the endzone, and the singular offensive score proved to be the game-winner as Creswell running back Jack Nguyen took a sweep right and scampered in from 14-yards out with 1:57 left in the game.

The game started well for Creswell, as the Bulldogs forced a three-and-out and were driving on their first possession. Nguyen had a 17-yard run, followed by a 27-yard run by quarterback Connor Hanson to put Creswell at Pleasant Hill’s 31-yard line.

Nguyen took the handoff on the very next play, but the Billies forced a fumble and freshman Jacob Neely scooped the ball up and returned it 73 yards for the score to put Pleasant Hill up 7-0 five minutes in. The next three possessions stalled, and Pleasant Hill got the ball back on its own six in the middle of the second quarter. Creswell got its revenge for the first quarter fumble as they forced a Blake Richardson fumble and Bulldog senior Cade Dimmick dove on the ball in the endzone to tie the score at 7 midway through the second.

Creswell’s stout defense was the highlight of the game, as the Bulldogs limited the Billies to just 78 yards of total offense, and forced two turnovers.

“We just stayed tough, kept within the game plan,” said Scott Worsham, Creswell head coach. “It was nice to scratch and battle and find a way to at least be tied up going into halftime. I just thought our guys, defensively, just kept playing tough and didn’t didn’t allow them to really do much offensively.”

Creswell quarterback Connor Hanson (13) breaks a tackle in Friday’s win. Photo by Bob Williams
Creswell’s Jack Nguyen (9) splits two defenders. Nguyen scored the game-winning touchdown for the Bulldogs win 1:57 left in the game. Photo by Bob Williams

The next 29 minutes of game action saw a combined six punts, three turnovers and a whole heap of rain. Finally, Nguyen’s touchdown rush broke the scoring drought, and put Creswell up 14-7 with under two minutes left. It wasn’t only the game-winner, but also redemption for Nguyen’s earlier fumble.

“(Jack’s) one of our best athletes. And you know, he’s a guy that I don’t think let’s much get him down. And I knew it was tough on him, but I knew it was his character that he was gonna get past that and move on and find a way to win a ballgame,” said Worsham. “That run at the end was huge. And that was a trademark Jack Nguyen run for a touchdown for us there.”

Pleasant Hill had plenty of time to answer, and started to put together its best drive of the game. Quarterback Matt Dutton had completions to Gavin Hoellrich, Brasen Holliday and Colton Kaiser, and all of the sudden the Billies were at the Creswell 25-yard line with 40 second left.

Ultimately, the Billies couldn’t capitalize on their final possession as Dutton was sacked once and threw three incompletions, and Creswell’s defense once again proved it was too much.

“Our guys just kept on doing their job. I mean, it was nice to see guys flying around making tackles, being in great spots on pass defense. And that’s kind of been one of our weaknesses this year is pass defense,” he said. “I was really proud of our guys.”

The Bulldogs took over at their own 26 and kneeled the ball twice to secure the rivalry win. Creswell (5-3) now travels to La Pine (7-1) on Thursday in an attempt to upset the #1 team in the conference and secure a playoff spot, while Pleasant Hill (3-5) hosts Siuslaw (6-2) on Friday.

For Pleasant Hill, the loss eliminated the team from playoff contention in head coach Jeremiah Heacock’s first season, although the Billies still have much to play for. For Creswell, the win kept its postseason hopes alive, but just barely.

Due to close losses against Siuslaw and Sisters, the Bulldogs don’t own any tiebreakers in the Mountain Valley Conference, meaning they are stuck in fourth in the conference. As the MVC only gets three automatic bids, Creswell is left fighting for the singular at-large bid in 3A. While the Bulldogs currently sit in fourth in that race, a win at #7 La Pine might do enough to push Creswell into the playoffs.

“I hope we can find a way. This team is definitely, I think, a state playoff worthy team and it’s just, you know, it’s in our control. If we win, I think we’re in,” Worsham said. “I think defensively we got to do what we did against Pleasant Hill … Offensively I think we’re gonna have to probably score three or four touchdowns to win.”



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