WALLA WALLA — Lightning struck three times Friday night at Ty Baffney Field in the first 24 minutes of non-conference football action.
La Salle made those three first-half scores stand up as the Lightning avenged last season’s season-ending loss to DeSales in the state Class 2B-11 playoffs with a 20-0 win.
"They are a very veteran group," Irish coach Pat Graham said of La Salle. "We just made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball. We (only) have three retuning starters (Pat Richard, Tyler Wahl, and Pat Sharkey). We had a lot of new faces out there and you could tell. We just didn’t quite have our timing on offense, and we got a little out of sync on defense."
La Salle took the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards in six plays, with 195 pound running back Tony Cacchiotti pounding in from the 10 as the Lightning took a 6-0 lead with 8:41 left in the first.
The Irish mounted an answer with a Tommy Gregg run for 10 yards, a Michael Mathews 11-yard catch of a Pat Richard pass and a Richard-to-Gregg pass for 18 highlighting the drive.
Following a Richard keeper on third-and-three from the Lightning 14, the Irish had a first-and-goal at the La Salle 7.
Richard, out of the shotgun, took off on the next Irish snap, but Cacchiotti ripped the ball lose and Josh Bartlett fell on the fumble at his own 5 to turn away the Irish threat.
Cacchiotti then ripped off a 19-yard run to start the Lightning on a 95-yard, 15-play, seven-minute, 30-second drive that Kerry Duffy culminated with a 9-yard burst to paydirt. The Lightning added Cacchiotti’s run for the two-point conversion and led 14-0 with 9:56 left in the half.
"They like to pound it," Graham said. "They’re disciplined, execute well and play hard. They earned the win."
An interception by Dylan Sattler on the Lightning 30 ended the second Irish possession of the game. Following a Lightning punt, a holding penalty derailed the third Irish possession even with a 10-yard screen pass from Richard to Kyle Lindgren.
Duffy scored his second TD on the ensuing La Salle possession with a 19-yard run and La Salle led 20-0 with 1:30 left in the half.
The Lightning defense forced a three-and-out and La Salle was knocking on the door at the Irish 5 with only ticks left in the half.
Ben Konen ended the threat by breaking through to sack Lightning quarterback Mike McGree back at the Irish 11 as the half ran out.
"Their offense pretty much kept us off the field and out of any (offensive) rhythm," Graham said of the Lightning’s 17-plus minutes of first-half possession. "(On defense), we got them in third-and-long, but we couldn’t stop them."
The Lightning and Irish battled to a scoreless standstill in the second half.
"We made some adjustments defensively and held them scoreless in the second half," Graham said. "Our defensive line and linebackers came out (in the second half) and were more physical, which was the reason we were able to keep them out of the end zone."
On offense, Lindgren ran for 60 of his game-high 77 rushing yards in the second half. The Irish offense, spearheaded by the running of Richard and Lindgren out of the shotgun, marched to the La Salle 13 to open the fourth.
Joe Sullivan picked off an Irish pass in the end zone to turn that DeSales threat away.
In the closing seconds, DeSales again knocked on the door by marching to the Lightning 18. With one second left, Richard hit Gregg, but the Lightning defense ran him out of bounds at the 10, and La Salle preserved the shutout.
"In the second half, we got into a rhythm and established the running game," Graham said. "We were able to do some things. We’ve just got to finish."
The Irish travel to Mac-Hi for a non-league matchup with the Pioneers Friday.
La Salle 6 14 0 0 —20
DeSales 0 0 0 0 —0
La Salle — Cachiotti 10 run (kick failed).
La Salle — Duffy 9 run (Cacchiotti run).
La Salle — Duffy 19 run (kick failed).
La Salle DeSales
First downs 18 14
Rushes/yards 43/236 30/169
Passing yards 87 65
Passes (att-comp-int) 14-9-0 22-9-2
Punts 3-33.0 3-33.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 4-29 4-47
RUSHING — La Salle: Duffy 13-62, Cacchiotti 6-67, Woodard 5-5, Kuribayashi 8-52, McGree 9-36, Anderton 2-14; DeSales: Gregg 3-19, Richard 11-66, Lindgren 14-77, Wales 2-7.
PASSING — La Salle: McGree 9-14-0 87 yards; DeSales: Richard 9-22-2.
RECEIVING — La Salle: Sattler 1-6-0, Duffy 1-3-0, Sullivan 3-32-0, Cacchiotti 2-35, Anderton 2-11-0; DeSales: Rea 2-4-0, Mathews 1-11-0, Gregg 5-40-0, Lindgren 1-10-0.