Hermiston Bulldogs Advance to State Semi-Finals with 40-22 Win

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Dayshawn Neal celebrates after Jonathan Hinkle scores Friday night in Hermiston's 40-22 win over South Albany in the Oregon 5A quarterfinals. (Photo: Michael Kane)

The Hermiston Bulldogs won their eighth straight game Friday night and in doing so, advanced to the Oregon 5A semi-finals set for next week against Wilsonville.

The Bulldogs picked up where they left off last week in their win against La Salle by dominating South Albany at home, 40-22.

The win means the Bulldogs are just two wins away from their second state championship in the last four years.

Hermiston got off to a fast start Friday night with the help of a long return of the opening kickoff by Dayshawn Neal that led to a short touchdown by Jonathan Hinkle to put the Bulldogs up 7-0. Hinkle scored another touchdown in the first to give Hermiston a 14-0 lead.

Hermiston stretched the lead to 21-0 before the Rebels got on the board in the second quarter. A third-quarter score pulled South Albany made it 21-14, but that was as close as the Rebels got.

Hinkle, who 210 yards rushing on 15 carries, took a handoff and raced 83 yards to extend Hermiston’s lead in the third quarter.

Big plays on offense helped propel the Bulldogs to victory Friday night, such as the 80-yard strike from quarterback Andrew James to Joey Gutierrez to cap off the night’s scoring.

James had another big night for Hermiston, going 14-22 for 213 yards and 4 touchdown passes.

The Bulldogs seemingly ran at will against South Albany, rushing for a team total of 322 yards and averaging 9.1 yards per carry.

The No. 3 Bulldogs will now face a showdown with No. 2 Wilsonville next Friday. The 10-1 Wildcats defeated No. 10 Lebanon Friday night, 31-7. The game will be in Hillsboro.

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