A pair of big defensive plays from Kyler Nygren, combined with the solid running of Conner Furu and the passing of Christian Williams, helped put the Black Hills football team in a rare position.
Nygren came up with two first-half interceptions, returning one 90 yards for a score, while Furu ran for 186 yards and Williams threw three TD passes as the undefeated Wolves improved to 4-0 for the first time in school history with a 46-20 victory over visiting Columbia River on Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium.
“Just a great team effort. It wasn’t just one guy. The entire team stepped up,” said Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens. “The kids came in focused and we did a nice job mixing up the run and the pass.”
Furu closed out the scoring with a 34-yard touchdown run, while Williams threw for 184 yards.
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Black Hills will take its unblemished record and a lot of confidence into Chehalis next week when it faces W.F. West in the Evergreen Conference 2A opener for both schools.
The Chieftains will make a return trek north to play Tumwater in a nonleague clash.
Columbia River (2-2) erased a 20-point second-quarter deficit, and pulled within a touchdown at 27-20 midway through the third quarter, after Garrett McKee tossed his second TD pass of the game, hitting Dalton Garrett on a 31-yard reception.
Black Hills immediately countered as Mark Melendrez hauled in an 80-yard scoring strike from Williams on the next play to push its lead to 33-20.
The duo teamed up again on the Wolves’ next possession, with Melendrez pulling down his second touchdown pass from Williams, this time from 34 yards out, to put the game out of reach.
The Wolves took advantage of several key defensive plays in the first half, the biggest provided by Nygren, to post a 27-13 lead at the break.
Furu, who had 108 yards on 11 carries in the first half, opened the game with a 54-yard scamper, taking the ball to the Chieftains 10. Three plays later, Jordan March scored on a 3-yard run.
The Black Hills defense surrendered big chunks of yardage in the first half, including a 32-yard touchdown pass from McKee to Dakota Mason, but forced valuable turnovers when it needed them.
Nygren’s first interception led to the Wolves’ second score when Williams hit Jewel Day on a 15-yard TD toss.
After Nygren’s long touchdown return on his second pick pushed the lead to 20-7, Black Hills forced another costly turnover when linebacker T.J. Borden simply stole the ball out of the hands of Chieftains running back Ryder Waite following a large gain. The turnover led to Cameron Berndson’s 13-yard touchdown run and a 27-7 Wolves’ lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the first half.
The Wolves also received sacks from Cole Tobin and Drew Kimmel and a blocked PAT from Gabe Adamson to take the 14-point lead into the intermission.