Two football teams headed in opposite directions met Friday night at CMH Field. And those same two teams just continued going their separate ways.
The Culver Bulldogs lost their third straight, while the Knappa Loggers — injuries and all — continue to look like a leading contender for the 2A state championship, winning their seventh straight game with a hard-fought, 38-22 win over Culver in a first round state playoff game.
Knappa will play Saturday at Coquille in a 2A quarterfinal.
At times, Knappa appeared unstoppable on offense in Friday’s game. Running back Cameron Miethe and quarterback Eli Takalo combined for 237 yards rushing, and Takalo passed for 158 yards, despite Logger injuries.
One of Knappa’s most dangerous weapons on offense, senior Kanai Phillip, was injured late in the first half and sat out the second half.
Still, with trainer Chad Rankin busy tending to Logger injuries throughout the final two quarters, it was Knappa which was able to wear down the Culver players in the late stages of the game.
Fortunately for the Loggers, the Bulldogs are not built to come from behind, while Knappa is built to win.
In a crucial fourth quarter, the Loggers rushed for five first downs, while the Knappa defense held Culver to just one possession in the final quarter.
The Loggers held a comfortable lead from start to finish, as Knappa scored on its first two offensive series.
Miethe scored on a 4-yard run and Takalo had an 8-yard touchdown run for a 16-0 lead.
Takalo added a 12-yard scoring run in the second period, but Culver outscored Knappa 15-6 in the quarter, cutting the Logger lead to 22-15 at halftime.
Takalo’s 33-yard TD toss to Devin Hoover pushed the Knappa lead to 30-15 with 8:27 left in the third quarter, but Culver’s Caden Engel returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown.
But that would be the final Bulldog score of the night, as Miethe and Takalo saved their best for the last quarter.
On a 10-play, 83-yard drive to start the fourth quarter, the “Eli and Camo Show” ran the ball nine times, with Hoover adding one 12-yard carry. Miethe capped the drive with a 16-yard TD run, as the junior finished the night with 143 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Takalo gained 94 yards on 11 attempts. With his seven completions for 158 yards, Takalo was worth 14 yards per play in the win, even at less than 100% with a high ankle sprain.
Knappa coach Aaron Barendse had to do some fancy coaching in the win.
With injuries at key spots on the field, Barendse had to shuffle the lineup and move some players up the depth chart who normally don’t see action in meaningful varsity situations.
They all responded for the Loggers, who are officially in “Beast Mode.”
“The line was outstanding and really controlled the game,” Barendse said. “We knew Culver was going to be very physical.”
“After an unfortunate injury, our boys came out fired up the second half,” he added. “The guys that filled in for the injured players stepped up to help us finish the game.”
And the second half belonged to Knappa.
“I felt like we controlled the second half and made it our game,” Barendse said. “The fourth quarter we held them to the one possession, and we were able to run the ball very well down the stretch. We look forward to preparing for a very good Coquille team. Should be a good game.”