COULEE CITY — Touchet led the Almira-Coulee-Hartline Warriors 20-16 at halftime in a state Class 1B-8 first-round prep football playoff game on a freshly snow-plowed field.
The Indians took the second-half kickoff and appeared poised to increase their lead. On the third play from scrimmage, Kyle O’Brien zig-zagged his way deep into Warrior territory for what looked like a first-and-goal situation for Touchet.
Alas, a penalty marked from the point of the infraction, nullified the run and moved the ball back to the Touchet 32 with a first-and-25.
Then, despite an 18-yard O’Brien run, the Indians failed to convert and punted the ball away.
The Warriors outscored Touchet 20-0 over the final two quarters, including a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game, to claim the 36-20 victory.
Touchet ended the season at 4-6.
In two other Class 1B-8 first-round games Friday, Tri-Cities Prep defeated Wilbur-Creston 50-0 and Colton defeated Columbia of Hunters 40-8.
Next weekend, Tri-Cities Prep meets A-C-H and Colton takes on Cuisick in quarterfinal matches. Times and sites haven’t been determined.
"They battled the whole game," Touchet coach Gary Dorman said of his Indians.
"Things didn’t get off to a real good start for us, but the kids fought back and played really well," he continued. "The penalties just killed us at the start of the second half, however. We had the penalty (that nullified O’Brien’s long run), and that hurt.
"It really hurt us, but it’s just one of those things that happens," Dorman said. "The kids aren’t trying to have penalties."
After the Warriors scored twice and took a 28-20 lead with 9:20 left in the game, the resilient Indians threatened to tie the game.
Highlighted by a 35-yard halfback pass from Gustavo Rodriguez to Marshall Byerley, Touchet moved the ball to the A-C-H 22-yard line before giving it up on downs with 5:34 left.
Then, after defensive lineman Michael Samuels recovered a Warrior fumble on the Touchet 32, the Indians failed to move the ball in four tries.
With the temperature settling at the 25-degree mark, A-C-H scored the game-icing TD with 18 seconds to play.
"Every one did a good job," said a disappointed junior quarterback Jake Hodnefield, who passed for 200 yards for the game. "We had a new offense this year, and no one expected us to come this far, but we did it. And we did a good job against this team."
Hodnefield, one of 11 juniors on the squad, praised the play of the Touchet seniors.
"We’re losing some good seniors (seven in all)," he said. "And you can’t replace those guys, but we’ll work hard for next year in the weight room and everything. We’ve got a lot of good kids coming back, and a lot of good freshmen coming out."
A-C-H took the game opening kickoff and scored on the eighth play when Derek Isaak passed 18 yards to Daniel Hardy. Isaak passed to Dylan Tipps for the conversion and the 8-0 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts, Hodnefield set up at the Touchet 19-yard line. Hodnefield hit Byerley in stride at the Warriors’ 45 for an 81-yard touchdown play.
Byerley finished with four catches for 130 yards.
When the conversion run failed, A-C-H led 8-6 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
With 10:30 on the second-quarter clock, Hodnefield passed to O’Brien for a 1-yard TD and a 12-8 Touchet lead.
A-C-H used 11 plays to cover 57 yards and score on its next possession. Isaak passed 17 yards to Hardy for the TD, and he passed to Kody Dillon for the 16-12 A-C-H lead.
The teams traded possessions, and Hodnefield connected with freshman Vicente Flores for a 52-yard score and for a two-point conversion.
Touchet took its 20-16 lead with 17 seconds left in the first half.
The Indians were unable to reach the end zone in the second half.
"The kids played well," Dorman emphasized. "This is a completely different group of kids from what they were when we started the season.
"They grew up a lot, and they had a lot of success," he said. "They weren’t supposed to do nearly as well as what they did. They have far exceeded our expectations at the beginning of the year.
"And we’ve got a good nucleus coming back," he said. "Jake (Hodnefield) did a great job today, and the kids gave him time to throw the ball. And the receivers made some nice catches, too.
"It worked out well," Dorman said. "The kids don’t have to hang their heads to anybody."
Touchet 6 14 0 0 — 20
Almira-Coulee-Hartline 8 8 6 14 — 36
ACH — Hardy 14 pass from Isaak (Tipps pass from Isaak).
TOU — Byerely 81 pass from Hodnefield (run failed).
TOU — O’Brin 1 pass from Hodnefield (run failed).
ACH — Hardy 17 pass from Isaak (Dillon pass from Isaak).
TOU — Flores 52 pass from Hodnefield (Flores pass from Hodnefield).
ACH — Tipps 32 run (run failed).
ACH — Hardy 19 pass from Isaak (pass failed).
ACH — Isaak 2 run (Tipps pass from Isaak).
First downs 9 23
Rushes/yards 18-60 48-390
Passing yards 235 89
Passes (att-comp-int) 29-12-2 10-5-1
Punts 3-36 1-34
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-50 7-70
RUSHING — Touchet: O’Brien 11-30, Hodnefield 7-30; A-C-H: Jess 11-69, Tipps 20-162, Isaak 13-154, Gregson 2-(9), Dillon 1-(-5), Johanson 1-1.
PASSING — Touchet: Hodnefield 11-28-2, 200 yards, 3 TDs; Rodrigues 1-1-0, 35 yards. ACH: Isaak 5-10-1, 89 yards, 3 TDs.
RECEIVING — Touchet: Byerley 4-130-1, O’Brien 4-26-1, Rodriquez 3-27-0, Flores 1-52-1; A-C-H: Hardy 3-54-3, Dillon 1-32-0, Gregson 1-3-0.