WALLA WALLA — DeSales capitalized on two White Swan turnovers and the Pat Richard-to-Ryan Baumgart passing combo to grab a 20-7 halftime lead here Saturday in opening-round state Class 2B football playoff action.
The Irish went on to score 28 unanswered second-half points and move into the quarterfinals with a 48-7 win.
"We’ve played four games in the last 17 days," Irish coach Pat Graham said. "We’ve had an odd schedule to try and prepare for our last couple of games (including the 22-14 win over Waitsburg-Prescott in Tuesday’s playoff). Mentally, it’s taken a toll. But, our kids maintain their focus, and we’re able to make enough plays in this game to get a win."
The Cougars received to open the game, but Pat Sharkey dropped Heath Owens at the Cougar 16, and White Swan was pinned deep in its own end.
Two incomplete passes later, the Irish defense forced Nico Nanez to cough up the ball and Sharkey corraled the loose ball at the Cougar 11.
"Vic Mata was coming up from the outside and hit the ball carrier," Sharkey said of his recovery. "The ball bounced out, and Tyler (Wahl) dove for it and missed, and then I was able to pounce on it."
Nick Wales gained one yard on a run to open the Irish offense. A second-and-9 produced the first of three TD passes from the Richard-to-Baumgart tandem as Baumgart hauled in a 10-yard strike from Richard and the Irish had the lead for good at 6-0 65 seconds into the game.
Ben Konen blocked a Cougar punt on the ensuing possession, and the Irish were back in business at the Cougar 31. DeSales failed to capitalize, as the Cougars sacked Richard twice to force a three-and-out.
"In the first half, our pass protection was less than average," offensive tackle Sharkey said. "In the second half, we were able to pull it together and protect pretty well."
The Irish forced a White Swan punt and went to work from their own 43.
Richard looked left, looked right, and then busted a 42-yard gallop up the middle to the Cougar 15. Richard found Baumgart for 15 yards and the score, Mata booted the point-after, and DeSales led 13-0 with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
Then it was Spencer Cordeiro’s turn. The defensive lineman found himself in the middle of a Cougar screen pass on the next White Swan possession.
Cordeiro snatched the screen and the Irish offense was back in business at the Cougar 32.
The Richard-to-Baumgart combo rolled again on the opening play of the second quarter. This one went for 11-yards and the score as DeSales opened a 20-0 lead with nine seconds gone in the second.
"We had a matchup we really liked," Graham said of the Richard-to-Baumgart partnership. "We had Ryan matched up on a linebacker, and they kept giving that to us. And Pat kept going to him. Those were some big plays in the first half."
The turnover bug was contagious as DeSales took its next possession to the Cougar 4 and Alex Sampson picked off a Richard pass at the goal line and ran it back to the Cougar 43.
White Swan marched 57 yards with Justin Williams going in from the 16 as the Cougars got back in the game at 20-7 with 3:58 left in the half.
"Because of the game Tuesday, we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare," Sharkey said of the Irish defense. "We came out not knowing what they were going to run. We saw a lot of things we hadn’t practiced. We needed to play good football and be athletic. That’s what we had to do."
The Irish suffered another Sampson interception on their last possession of the half and settled for a 20-7 lead at intermission.
The second half saw the Irish ‘play good football’ as the defense only allowed one penetration into Irish territory and that came on the last Cougar possession of the game, and the offense put 28 points on the board.
"We had a few miscues in the first half and our execution was a little bit off," Graham said. "But, I really liked the way our kids responded."
The Cougars stopped the first Irish drive with a fumble recovery at their own 5 to open the second half. But the Irish answered on their next offensive sequence. A 54-yard catch-and-run from Richard to Tommy Gregg sent DeSales to the fourth quarter with a 27-7 lead.
Wales added a one-yard TD run to open the fourth and cap a 64-yard scoring drive.
Kyle Lindgren took a screen from Richard and scooted to the house from 30 yards out for a 41-7 Irish lead with 6:47 left, and Lindgren’s one-yard run capped the scoring as DeSales marched into the quarterfinals.
Richard threw for 206 yards and five touchdowns, and Baumgart caught four balls for 61 yards and three TDs to lead the Irish attack.
DeSales faces a familiar foe Friday or Saturday in the quarterfinals. La Salle advanced with a 48-26 win over Reardan and owns a 20-0 victory over DeSales in the season’s first game, and meet DeSales for a trip to the Class 2B state final four.
DESALES 48, WHITE SWAN 7
White Swan 0 7 0 0 — 7
DeSales 13 7 7 21 — 48
DeS — Baumgart 10 pass from Richard (kick failed).
DeS — Baumgart 15 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
DeS – Baumgart 11 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
WS – J. Williams 16 run (Galvin kick).
DeS – Gregg 54 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
DeS – Wales 1 run (Mata kick).
DeS – Lindgren 30 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
DeS – Lindgren 1 run (Martinez kick).
First downs 14 14
Rushes/yards 34-105 35-189
Passing yards 128 206
Passes (att-comp-int) 25-11-1 12-10-2
Punts 4-32.3 1-30.0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 11-95 4-25
RUSHING — WS: Nanez 9-29, Fiandeer 6-47, Spencer 3-3, Olivia 6-(-3), J. Williams 4-25, Owens 4-15, Sampson 2-(-11); DeS: Wales 6-30, Richard 16-105, Lindgren 12-56, Baumgart 1-(-2).
PASSING — WS: Olivia 11-25-1 128 yards; DeS: Richard 10-12-2 206 yards 5 TDs.
RECEIVING — WS: Owens 2-17, Sampson 3-54, J. Williams 3-24, Fiandeer 3-33; DeS: Baumgart 4-61-3, Lindgren 3-63-1, Wales 1-10, Gregg 2-72-1.