Nyssa's Dearden Woodruff sprints toward the end zone during a playoff game against Willamina last weekend. (For the Enterprise/Anna Long)

WILLAMINA – Jo Jo Sanchez ran for 213 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Nyssa past Willamina 28-7 Saturday in a first-round Class 3A state playoff game.

The Bulldogs shrugged off a slow start to dominate the second half and claim the victory. The win propels the Bulldogs into the second round of the state playoffs but their road to a championship trophy doesn’t get any easier as they face No. 2-ranked Amity Saturday.

Sanchez and teammate Dearden Woodruff, who finished with 96 yards rushing on 18 carries and a touchdown, led the Bulldog ground attack but Nyssa’s defense stepped up in critical situations, said Coach Lee Long.

“We kept them to the least amount of points they scored all year,” said Long.

Long said the Bulldogs struggled to get going early – the game was tied 7-7 at halftime – but found the right gear in the second half.

“It took us about a half to get things going,” said Long. “But our kids played well, played very physical and I don’t think they were ready for that.”

Nyssa broke the 7-7 tie in the third quarter on Sanchez’s 7-yard touchdown and Sanchez added another 11-yard scoring jaunt later in the frame to put the Bulldogs ahead 21-7. Woodruff’s 5-yard run in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Nyssa.

The Bulldogs entered the game without standout freshman quarterback Landon McDowell – who was injured – but Long said senior Ethan Draper did well filling in.

“In the second half we were very clearly the more dominant team,” said Long. “We did control the line of scrimmage most of the game.”

Long said Woodruff had a “great game.”

Nyssa (7-2) will be on the road again for the Amity game and Long said the travel time is just the “way it is.”

“It’s far but that’s nothing new and if you are going to win the thing you have to travel,” said Long.

Amity will be a new and, perhaps, tougher challenge for the Bulldogs. At 9-1, the Warriors have run roughshod over most of the competition in the PacWest Conference. Amity’s only loss of the season – 60-54 – was to No. 1-ranked Rainier.

Last week Amity smothered Brookings-Harbor 52-6 in a first-round playoff game.

The Warriors offense runs a double-wing, said Long.

“I think we match up well with that,” said Long. “But this will be a good test for us.”

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.