DeSales, W-P survive mini-playoff, live to play another day

Waitsburg-Prescott downs Asotin to secure a state playoff spot, and then DeSales beats W-P to earn the SE 2B District's top seed.

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DAYTON -- DeSales and Waitsburg-Prescott survived the Southeast 2B-League's mini-playoff here Tuesday at the Dayton High football field.

W-P defeated Asotin 24-8 in the night's opening round of games, each of which consisted of two 12-minute halves.

The Irish, who drew a first-round bye, then posted a 22-14 win over W-P that eliminated Asotin. Had DeSales loss, the Irish and Panthers would have played a third mini-game to decide the No. 2 berth, with W-P claiming No. 1.

As the No. 1 seed, the Irish will host White Swan Saturday afternoon at Ty Baffney Field on the Irish campus. Waitsburg-Prescott, which will make its first playoff appearance since 2002, travels to Colfax Saturday to take on a Bulldogs team that is ranked No. 1 in the state.

"We have another short prep time and have to get ready for a game on Saturday," Irish coach Pat Graham said. "The kids will just have to suck it up and get ready to play. Our focus was to prepare for two great football teams - Asotin and Waitsburg. We'll take a look at them (White Swan) tonight. We'll recenter ourselves and focus on our next opponent, White Swan."

"We're excited about being in the playoffs," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "To play Colfax is an honor. They're really good. Mike (Morgan) is a fantastic coach and does a great job with their team. We can play with them, and we can beat them."

DeSales 22, Waitsburg-Prescott 14

DeSales set the tone for Tuesday night's clincher real quick.

DeSales received the opening kickoff and went to work from its own 38.

Pat Richard took the snap in the shot gun formation and ran left. Richard turned the corner and sprinted down the sideline on a 62-yard TD gallop. Victor Mata added the PAT and DeSales led 7-0 17 seconds into the game.

"We tried to prepare for the first game (against Asotin) as we had to win that to go to state," Bartlow said. "We put 100 percent into Asotin and talked for half an hour about DeSales and what we would have to do to get things done.

"They (DeSales) did some things we had not seen them do," Bartlow continued. "We didn't adjust to it very well. On the very first touchdown, we had both of our outside linebackers on the same side of the field. There was nobody on the other side of the field. He (Richard) just took off and that was it."

Both teams exchanged punts, but Richard's rolled dead at the W-P three, and the Irish defense rose to the occasion.

Ben Konen led the charge on W-P's second play of the possession and, with Konen at the bottom of the pile, the Irish defense sacked W-P quarterback Zach Bartlow in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Irish lead.

"Our defense played real well," Graham said. "We were able to do some things to take away their big plays."

W-P opened the second 12-minute half with the ball and moved to a first down at its own 46.

Bartlow broke a first-down run to the Irish 40, but it came back on a holding penalty, and W-P could not recover and punted.

The Irish went to the running game, as they only attempted two passes in the second period, and marched 65 yards, all on the ground, on the ensuing possession.

Kyle Lindgren started the drive with a 15-yard run and capped the drive with a 20-yard TD scamper for a 13-0 Irish lead with 7:02 left.

"I thought our offensive line did a great job," Graham said. "In the second half, we were able to establish the run. Our O-line made some great blocks and we were able to control the game with our run."

W-P had an answer as it marched 72 yards to get on the board. Bartlow ran four times for 41 yards in the drive, and Kris Cady added an 11-yard scamper.

A Bartlow-to-Lucan Gerke 20-yard pass got W-P into the end zone and cut the Irish lead to 13-6 with 4:43 left.

The Irish put the game away on the ensuing possession. A 20-yard pass play from Richard to Tommy Gregg set up a 46-yard TD run from Richard and DeSales moved to a 22-6 lead with 3:02 left.

"Pat made some great runs (TD runs of 62 and 46 yards)," Graham said. "It was a great effort all around.'

W-P had one more run as Bartlow teamed with Gerke on completions of 13, 18, and 23 yards to get W-P to the Irish 18. Bartlow did the rest in two carries, with his 4-yard run and 2-point conversion pass to David Brock cutting the Irish lead to 22-14, but only 42 ticks were left. Mike Mathews covered the ensuing kickoff and the Irish ran out the clock.

Richard ran for 161 yards on 10 carries and Lindgren added 52 on five carries to pace the DeSales attack.

"That's been our motto for the last three weeks," Graham said of his team's 'live to play another day' philosophy. "We had to go to Asotin and win. We had to win over Liberty Christian, and we had to come here tonight and win. We put our energy into coming here and playing well, and our kids did that."

For W-P, Bartlow ran for 59 yards and threw for 112, and Gerke caught eight passes for 89 yards and one touchdown.

"We couldn't stop them," Bartlow said. "And 10 (Richard) can just flat play. But give our kids credit in the second game, we just moved the ball on offense like we know we are capable of and made a game of it."

WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT 24, ASOTIN 8

Asotin got the ball first and lost two yards in three plays. The defensive front stopped Riley Spooner on a sweep for a loss of one. Kevin Raver tripped up Dustin Wooderchak for a loss of two. The defensive line stopped Spooner after a gain of one, and the Panthers had to punt.

And so it went as the W-P defense was almost flawless as it allowed the Panthers only seven rushing yards as W-P secured its spot in the 2B playoffs with the 24-8 win.

"We prepared all week to beat them" Bartlow said. "We knew we had to win that game."

W-P scored the first time it had the ball. W-P marched 59 yards, with Bartlow's 18-yard gallop up the middle after faking a pass to his left on third-and-seven from the Asotin 46 being the key play. Jace Zuger scampered the last 13 yards and W-P jumped on top 6-0 with 5:50 left in the first.

W-P forced a turnover on the next Panther possession. Ben Servatius hooked up with Matt Small on a 35-yard completion, taking the ball to the W-P 28, but the ball came loose and Bartlow recovered at his own 27 to snuff out the lone first half Panther threat.

The second half did not start well for W-P.

W-P took the second-half kickoff on a knee at its own 17. Cady lost three yards, and the Panther defense stuffed Bartlow and forced a fumble. Jesse Davis fell of the fumble at the W-P nine.

Three plays later, Servatius snuck it in from the one.

W-P jumped off sides on a PAT kick the was wide left, giving the Panthers another chance from the one-and-a-half. Spooner ran it in and the W-P lead was gone as Asotin took an 8-6 lead with 9:49 to play.

Not to panic. W-P went 65 yards, with a 42-yard Bartlow scamper setting up a Zac Alexenko's 4-yard flanker reverse for the W-P score and a 12-8 lead with 6:09 to play.

"We made three errors right off the bat," Bartlow said of the start of the second half. "It (the mistakes) did not affect them. Our guys just stepped up like champions."

The Panthers went on fourth-and-three from their 42 with 4:40 left. Servatius hit Lucas Forsberg in the flat, but Gerke and Zuger were there to nail Forsberg for a 2-yard loss and W-P took over.

Cady had an 11-yard run for a first down, but the drive stalled with a fourth-and-12 at the Panther 32.

"We were trying to decide if we should punt," Bartlow said. "If you punt it in the end zone, you get 10 yards. We decided at the very last second to go for it."

Bartlow overthrew Gerke in the end zone, but Gerke caught up and made a diving catch for a 18-8 W-P lead.

"It was overthrown," Bartlow said. "He (Gerke) can catch up to about anything. He's got explosion and stretches himself. It was a beautiful catch."

Bartlow added a 56-yard interception return for a score to go along with his 71 rushing yards and his 49 passing yards as W-P got the win it needed to advance to the state playoffs with the 24-8 win.

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