Flying around at a dizzying pace, The Dalles defense unleashed a flurry of big hits and methodically chipped away at the spirit and will of Crook County.
Over the course of four quarters, TD limited Crook County to 192 yards on 69 plays, 2 of 14 on third downs and forced five turnovers, posted 3.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in a 31-0 shutout Friday at Sid White Field.
The Riverhawk defense is riding a streak of seven consecutive quarters without allowing a point.
“Whoever we play, they better be ready to play against a hard-hitting defense,” said TD linebacker Steven Preston, who finished with 5.5 tackles, a fumble recovery and half a sack. “We are quick, and we are fast to the football. We do a good job of reading the plays and making things happen at the point of attack.”
In 13 possessions, the Hawks had the five Cowboy mistakes, forced five punts and two loss of downs, with 87 of the yards allowed coming in the second half.
Yordi Sanchez reached 13 tackles, Ty’jean Green had nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, and J.R. Scott picked up seven tackles, a sack and a blocked punt.
Dalles Seufalemua reeled off six tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, Ophath Silaphath added 5.5 tackles and two sacks and Dante Avila garnered 5.5 tackles, a forced fumble and a recovery.
With the defense lighting the fuse, Gabe Helseth and TD’s offense tallied 258 yards, 186 on the ground, and converted 8 of 13 third downs with 16 first downs in 23 minutes and 46 seconds of possession time.
“It is much easier to play offense when our defense is playing like they were tonight,” Helseth said. “They definitely motivate the team and they get the adrenaline pumping, so we can play the game the way we know how to. It was an awesome performance. It is a great feeling to come out and play the way we did and win our first league game.”
At the nine-minute mark of the first period, Helseth capped a 15-play, 82-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown scamper.
Helseth then connected with Preston on a 21-yard pass play to move the Riverhawks ahead to a 14-0 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Scott had a one-yard plunge, and Avila drilled a 24-yard field goal, making the lead 24-0 with two minutes left.
Scott capped a put the final exclamation point on matters with a one-yard score, at the 5:31 mark of the fourth quarter.
Preston had 12 carries for 78 yards and one grab for 21 yards and a score.
Scott rushed 12 times for 46 yards, and Helseth carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards and completed 6 of 17 passes for 72 yards and a score to go with two interceptions.
TD head coach Steve Sugg said that his coaching staff knew the potential to be a high-scoring offense was there.
The team had scored 39 points in four games and nearly matched that total in one game.
“Our offensive line is showing the improvements. They have been getting better each week,” Sugg said. “They are finally starting to get some continuity and they are starting to move bodies around. I am proud of the way they have played. Coach (Andy) Codding has done a great job with that group. They are starting to gain more confidence. We still got a way to go, but when you can run the football and we can be more balanced, it makes a huge difference.”
TD (1-3 overall, 1-0 league) hosts No. 4-ranked Gladstone (2-2, 1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday
“We are not even close to where we want to be yet,” TD’s Mac Abbas said. “We are trying to win league and we are trying to get through to the playoffs.
“We know what we have to do to get better and we are moving past this game and focusing on Gladstone,” he added.