WAITSBURG – With 2:47 remaining here Friday in a Southeast 2B-11 League football showdown with playoff implications, Waitsburg-Prescott found deadlocked with DeSales and 89 yards from paydirt.
W-P proved to be up to the task as quarterback Zach Bartlow fired a 28-yard touchdown pass to Zac Alexenko with only 19 ticks left. James Lehr booted his fifth PAT and W-P emerged with a 35-28 win.
"It was truly a great football game," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "We couldn’t get momentum because they would score right after we scored. Neither team wanted to lose, and both teams really, really wanted to win.
"It was unreal," Bartlow said. "It was one for the ages. It was a lot of fun to be a part of it."
DeSales grabbed its first lead of the night as Pat Richard found Mike Matthews for a 12-yard score to cap a 56-yard Irish march and give DeSales a 28-21 edge with 9:13 to play.
On the ensuing possession, W-P recovered from Tyler Wahl’s stop of Kris Cady for a 4-yard loss and a Pat Sharkey 9-yard sack, to finish a 51-yard march as Bartlow bounced back to find Cady on an 8-yard scoring pass that got W-P even at 28-28 with 4:12 left.
Tommy Gregg jitterbugged his way for a 15-yard kickoff return to set the Irish up at their own 30 with 4:03 left. A Richard-to-Ryan Baumgart pass got 12 yards, but W-P’s Ben Kiefel dropped Kyle Lindgren for a 3-yard loss. Richard ran for 11, and the W-P pass rush batted down a pass to bring up a fourth-and-two at the W-P 49.
From punt formation, Richard was going to attempt a run for the first down, but a whistle and procedure penalty stopped play and moved the Irish back five. Richard’s punt rolled dead at the W-P 11 with 2:47 left.
"It was like the team that had the ball last was going to win," DeSales coach Pat Graham said. "We had the opportunity as we had the ball with about four minutes left. We couldn’t get anything going and made them drive the field. And give them credit, they did it."
On second-and-nine, Bartlow hit Lucan Gerke for 12 yards and a first down at the W-P 24. Cady broke a 20-yard gallop, followed by a 3-yard plunge, and W-P was out to its 47-yard line with 90 seconds left.
Bartlow ran for 19, then hit Dustin Wooderchak for six yards to move W-P to the Irish 28 with 33 ticks left.
Bartlow threw a jump ball for Gerke in the end zone, but Gregg battled the ball for an incompletion with 25 seconds left.
Bartlow connected with a wide open Alexenko down the middle of the field and Alexenko took it in for the winner.
"They were in a cover one where every one was spread out," Alexenko said. "They moved their safety over to the far right to guard our No. 1 guy, Lucan Gerke, who had been doing it for us all night. That left me wide open down the middle. ‘I better catch this ball,’ is what I was thinking. It all came together for a score."
Bartlow threw for 52 yards on the last drive to cap a 10-of-19 passing night good for 202 yards and four touchdowns.
Bartlow ran for 19 in that last drive and finished with 109 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
"They had to drive (89) yards with two minutes and no time outs," Graham said. "He (Zach Bartlow) was cool, calm, and collected, and made play after play. He did that all day long."
"Unbelievable drive to win it," said coach Bartlow, the sophomore QB’s father. "That doesn’t happen unless you’ve got some seasoned guys on the team that want to win, and we did."
W-P pulled one out of the gimmick book to get on the board fist. Bartlow ran the option and pitched to Cady, who hit Gerke for 71 yards and W-P led 7-0 with 2:00 left in the first.
The Irish answered. Richard hit Gregg for 32 and Ryan Rea for 13 to highlight a 77-yard drive that Richard capped with a 5-yard run to make it 7-7 after one quarter.
Bartlow hit Gerke for 45 yards and a go-ahead score with 8:32 left in the second quarter.
The W-P defense forced its only three-and-out of the game on the ensuing DeSales possession.
"We could of had some improvements in some areas defensively," Alexenko said. "But, we got it done and got the W."
W-P marched to two first downs, but Ben Konen intercepted a screen pass and raced 20 yards to set up the Irish at midfield.
A 42-yard pass to Rea set up a 5-yarder to Rea for the score with 3:31 left in the half and the 14-14 score stood until intermission.
A Cady interception at his 40 led to W-P’s third-quarter score. Gerke made a circus catch reaching back for the throw for a 36-yard TD and a 21-14 W-P lead with 7:00 to play in the third.
The Irish took the ensuing kick off and marched 65 yards. Kyle Lindgren ran three times for 31 yards and Richard added an 18-yard gallop and went in from 5 yards out to cap the drive and run the score to 21-21 with 4:17 left in the third.
"We did some (good) things defensively, then all of a sudden we couldn’t stop the run," Bartlow said. "We were in a couple of looks to stop that run and it was working pretty well. Then that drive, they just ran it down our throat."
The Irish took their only lead following a 9-yard W-P punt to the DeSales’ 46. The quarter ended with DeSales on the move at its own 49 in a 21-21 tie as the stage for the dramatic finish was set.
For DeSales, Richard ran for 83 yards and threw for 207 and two touchdowns. Rea led the Irish receivers with nine catches for 97 yards and a TD.
Cady ran for 86 yards on 11 carries for W-P. Gerke caught everything thrown his way and finished with seven catches for 210 yards and three scores.
"Gerke had a game for the ages," Bartlow said. "We mixed it up pretty good and had some great performances."
The win improves W-P to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in conference.
"It’s been so long (since a regular season win over DeSales). It’s a great win," Bartlow said. "It was an awesome game."
The Irish drop to 3-1 in conference and have a bye before traveling to Asotin October 30.
"We have to come back and try to get better," Graham said. "We have to win our next two games."
DeSales 7 7 7 7 —28
W-P 7 7 7 14 —35
W-P — Gerke 71 pass from Cady (Lehr kick).
DeS — Richard 5 run (Mata kick).
W-P — Gerke 45 pass from Bartlow (Lehr kick).
DeS — Rea 5 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
W-P — Gerke 36 pass from Bartlow (Lehr kick).
DeS — Richard 5 run (Mata kick).
DeS — Matthews 12 pass from Richard (Mata kick).
W-P — Cady 8 pass from Bartlow (Lehr kick).
W-P — Alexenko 28 pass from Bartlow (Lehr kick).
First downs 16 16
Rushes/yards 28-140 34-197
Passing yards 207 273
Passes (att-com.-int)29-17-1 20-11-1
Punts 5-34.8 4-28.8
Fumbles-lost 1-0 5-0
Penalties-yards 6-36 5-45
RUSHING — DeS: Lindgren 12-67, Richard 14-83, Wales 2-(-10); W-P: Bartlow 21-109, Cady 11-86, Robinson 2-2.
PASSING — DeS: Richard 17-29-1 207 yards 2 TDs; W-P: Bartlow 10-19-1 202 yards 4 TDs, Cady 1-1-0 71 yards 1 TD.
RECEIVING — DeS: Rea 9-97-1, Gregg 4-47-0, Matthews 3-50-1, Baumgart 1-13-0; W-P: Gerke 7-210-3, Alexenko 2-49-1, Cady 1-8-1, Wooderchak 1-6-0.