West Albany High was never able to put Corvallis away Thursday night.
The Bulldogs got just enough offense in a game with too many “misfires,” as coach Brian Mehl described them. Penalties, dropped passes, failed execution and some big plays by the Spartan defense slowed the home team.
But a shutdown defensive effort and two first-half touchdowns were the difference for the Bulldogs as they left Memorial Stadium with a 14-0 win in Mid-Willamette Conference football play.
The Bulldogs (7-0, 7-0 MWC) haven’t had to worry about their defense much this season and they certainly didn’t Thursday.
When a stop was needed, the West defense got it.
“It was pretty much hanging on at the end and allowing our defense to play really well,” Mehl said. “We need to be better than this if we want to continue to play football in November.”
Corvallis (2-5, 2-5) was held to 89 yards rushing, with 43 of that coming off an offensive fumble recovery. Izaak Worsch rushed 16 times for 35 yards, with 23 of that coming on one second-half carry.
Spartans quarterback Logan Steeves passed for 160 yards with one interception.
Brady Hankins set up Corvallis with its best scoring opportunity with a second-quarter interception deep in West territory.
But the Spartans couldn’t convert, and West’s Ezra Lopez added to his pick total with an interception in the end zone.
The Spartans turned the ball over on downs in the second half at the Bulldog 24, 13 and 45 on three separate possessions.
“I thought our defense played super,” Corvallis coach Chris McGowan said. “Just played well, executed well against a very good football team. On offense, we were able to get some drives together but we couldn’t finish. We need to work on that.”
Mehl said he was satisfied with the victory, while also reminding his team that there’s more work to be done.
A win is a win when you’re chasing a conference title and success beyond.
“We definitely didn’t perform like we should have, it definitely wasn’t our best,” said West’s Hunter Crosswhite. “We’ve just got to keep working in practice. The defense did a good job keeping us in this game, too.”
West couldn’t get much going on its first three drive, seeing those end on punts twice and a Max Johnson interception in the end zone.
But the Bulldogs found some traction late in the second quarter.
Quarterback Carson Van Dyke capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard plunge for the game’s first score.
The drive included a 12-yard pass to Myles Westberg and a change-of-direction run by Crosswhite that turned into a 26-yard gain.
Crosswhite finished with 110 yards on 16 carries, including four attempts that went for double-digit yardage.
“It all comes down to the linemen,” the senior running back said. “They’ve been working hard a lot lately. Pushing themselves and opening holes and l just run through them.”
After the teams traded interceptions late in the half, Van Dyke hit Westberg for a 22-yard gain on the third play of the ensuing drive. The next play saw Westberg run a slant route, snag a pass and go 45 yards for a touchdown 24 seconds before halftime.
Van Dyke was 13-of-20 passing for 173 yards with the touchdown and two picks. Westberg caught nine passes for 116 yards.
With teammate and all-league receiver Kelly Kingsmill on the sideline in street clothes, Johnson stepped up with a huge receiving night.
The senior had nine catches for 66 yards. He also had the fumble recovery on offense that put the Spartans in scoring position.
Corvallis lineman GW Fulford had back-to-back sacks at the end of a long West Albany drive that resulted in a missed field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Corvallis defense gave up 17 points in a loss to McKay last week and on Thursday found a way to get off the field repeatedly in the second half.
“Just a good scheme. We’re relying on our defensive backs to play some man coverage and force them to pass the ball,” McGowan said. “Our guys are playing downhill and doing their jobs. It’s been pretty good for us the past few games, but especially tonight.”
The Bulldogs’ win keeps alive their hopes of an undefeated regular season.
West, ranked third in this week’s OSAA 5A coaches poll, goes to Dallas (1-5, 1-5) next week and then hosts fifth-ranked Silverton (6-0, 6-0) in the final game before the postseason.
Corvallis closes its season at home against Central (3-3, 3-3) and at South Albany (2-4, 2-4).