ABERDEEN — At their first home-away-from-home game, the Montesano Bulldogs met the Spartans of Forks on Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
The Bulldogs looked comfortable running their fast-paced game right over the visiting Spartans, 42-7.
Senior Eliot Mendenhall put five touchdowns up for the Bulldogs and paced the offense with 158 total yards.
“When we play fast, we play well,” Montesano Coach Terry Jensen said. “(We’re) still not perfect yet. We have a few things to clean up.”
For Montesano, this was a watermark as it was the team’s first game gaining more than 300 yards in total offense this season. The triple threat of Mendenhall, running back Tucker Ibabao and quarterback Matthew Jensen give the Bulldogs several ground possibilities. And when they get jammed up trying to break through an opposing defense, they can turn to the air with Ben Ohashi and Richard Smith.
But it was the running game that served them well in this outing against Forks.
The Bulldogs were able to hold the Spartans and force a punt on Forks’ initial offensive attack. Montesano quickly converted that opportunity and struck with the first of Mendenhall’s touchdowns. The point-after was no good.
After several fruitless series, Monte threw what would have been a touchdown pass but Forks’ free safety James Salazar intercepted, apparently in the end zone. Officials inexplicably threw their flags and called the play dead on the two-yard line before any Bulldogs touched Salazar while he still had room to run. Forks’ coaches protested the call to no avail.
Two plays later, the Montesano defense held and pushed Forks back for a 2-point safety just before the close of the first quarter.
Forks followed with an onside kick that that was recovered by Montesano. A holding penalty against Montesano positioned the Bulldogs at the 34-yard line to start the second period of play. Before the first minute of time could fall off the clock, Montesano sent Ibabao on a run for the next Bulldog touchdown. With a solid PAT, the Bulldogs went up by 15 points. The trio of Ibabao, Jensen and Mendenhall continued to gobble up yards for the Bulldog team and take the game to a 22-0 score by halftime.
Again working the ground game, Montesano opened a hole for Mendenhall, who followed the hash marks down the left side of the field for an opening play 6-point run and his longest gain of the game at 66 yards.
The Bulldogs continued to place points on the board and early in the final quarter took a 40-point lead to start the running clock.
Forks was not done and was able to get some of the gridiron back. On their next possession, Spartan quarterback Brandon Decker was able to connect with Salazar in heavy Bulldog traffic to put Forks on the board. Salazar made good on his PAT.
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Montesano cycled in various players to give them experience.
The game concluded with a Bulldog win, 42-7.
The next two games for Montesano will be on the road first to Rochester and then on to Tenino. The Bulldogs are expected to host Rainier on Oct. 19 for a combination homecoming and senior night game back on their own turf, Jack Rottle Field.