WALLA WALLA - Jeremiah Cox connected on 21-of-30 pass attempts for 325 yards and six touchdowns here Friday to propel DeSales into the round of 16 in the State Class 2B football playoffs.
Cox led the Irish to a 53-14 win over District 7 No. 3-seed Mary Walker of Springdale in a loser-out battle.
"They (the Chargers) really loaded the box on us," Irish coach Pat Graham said. "They gave us some things in the passing game and we were able to execute. Jeremiah had poise and was able to find the open receiver. It was a physical game, but our offensive line did pretty well.
"Our defense played solid," Graham continued. "Our tackling was pretty good. Overall, I was very pleased with our effort."
The Irish travel to play Brewster, a 14-13 winner over Kittitas Friday or Saturday at a place to be determined.
DeSales made it look easy as it marched 53 yards in four plays after Tommy Gregg's 32-yard return of the opening kickoff. Cox connected with Ryan Baumgart for 21 yards and the score with less than two minutes gone in the game.
The Chargers took their opening possession and drove to the Irish 41 before Joe Duehn stopped the march with an interception at his own 20.
After a Charger three-and-out, the Irish got the ball at their 25 with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
Behind a 24-yard scamper by Luke Fazzari and a Cox-to-Baumgart 33-yard completion, the Irish marched 75 yards and finished it off with a Cox-to-Nick Wales 2-yard scoring pass to grab a 14-0 lead with 8:51 left in the half.
The Chargers got back into the game as Taylor Degraaf raced 73 yards for a Charger TD to narrow the gap to 14-6 with 4:08 left in the half.
"We've got to continue to eliminate those big plays," Graham said. "It's (big plays) been our Achilles' heel this year. That long run was a breakdown. We lost contain and missed a tackle and he was off to the races."
The Irish answered as Mike Matthews, in his first game back from injury, grabbed a 1-yard pass from Cox and turned it into a score by racing untouched down the far sideline for 55 yards and a 21-6 lead with 2:21 left in the half.
DeSales took advantage of a 17-yard Charger punt to start a 53-yard scoring march with 54 seconds left in the half.
Cox then found Baumgart in the corner of the end zone. Baumgart went up, caught it and got his feet down for a 28-7 Irish lead at intermission.
For Baumgart, it was his eighth catch of the half for 137 yards and two TDs.
"We saw what we could do with their coverage, and Jeremiah (Cox) put some good balls up there," Baumgart said. "It was fun. We attacked what they gave us and (I) got good balls and it worked out well.
"I don't know (if I was in or not)," Baumgart said of his catch deep in the end zone. "I couldn't tell."
Cox did get sacked three times in the first half, but still threw for 253 yards and four TDs.
"They were big and they hit hard," Baumgart said of the sacks. "We had a couple of breakdowns, but our line will get it together."
The Irish gave up what looked like an onside kick to open the second half as the Chargers took over on their own 47 and drove to a fourth-and-10 from the Irish 30. Wales stopped Charger quarterback Jalen Hagel six yards short and the Irish took over.
"He was supposed to kick it down the right side," Graham said of the second-half kickoff. "He just missed it and they marched right down the field. Thank goodness (we got them stopped)."
The Chargers held, but the Irish snapped the ball out of the end zone from punt formation and the Chargers had a safety.
"Special-teams-wise, we had some miscues," Graham said. "The safety, and we missed three extra points. That's not us. We've been solid in the kicking game all year. We've got some things to work on."
The Irish put it out of reach after the Charger safety. Baumgart caught an 18-yard scoring pass, and Gregg hauled in a 15-yard score after Dan Solomon forced a Charger fumble and Vic Mata scooped it up and raced 21 yards to the Charger 15. DeSales led 40-14 after three quarters.
The Irish coasted home as Gregg culminated the night with a 77-yard kickoff return to end this one.
Baumgart finished with nine catches for 155 yards and three scores, and Fazzari ran for 110 yards on 18 carries as the Irish finish the regular season at 7-2, ranked No. 4 in the state polls, and will face Brewster on the road.
"We need to come out and have good practices this week," Baumgart said. "We just need to keep getting better."
DeSales 53, Mary Walker 14
Mary Walker 0 6 2 6 - 14
DeSales 7 21 12 13 - 53
DeS - Baumgart 21 pass from Cox (Mata kick).
DeS - Wales 2 pass from Cox (Mata kick).
MW - Degraaf 73 run (kick failed).
DeS - Matthews 56 pass from Cox (Mata kick).
DeS - Baumgart 19 pass from Cox (Mata kick).
MW - Safety DeS punt snap out of end zone.
DeS - Baumgart 18 pass from Cox (kick failed).
DeS - Gregg 15 pass from Cox (kick failed).
DeS - Fazzari 13 run (kick failed).
MW - O'Malley 34 pass from E. Welch (run failed).
DeS - Gregg 77 kick off return (Martinez kick).
First downs 13 15
Rushes/yards 43-269 27-80
Passing yards 64 325
Passes (att-comp-int) 15-5-1 30-21-0
Punts 3-22.0 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-65 6-57
RUSHING - MW: Degraaf 8-103-1, Parker 12-70, J. Hegel 6-11, Peone 6-23, E. Welch 8-51, Field 3-11; DeS: Team 1-(-24), Fazzari 18-110-1, Cox 7-0, Matthews 1-(-6).
PASSING - MW: J. Hegel 4-14-1 30 yards, E. Welch 1-1-0 34 yards 1 TD; DeS: Cox 21-30-0, 325 yards, 6 TDs.
RECEIVING - MW: Degraaf 1-7, Peone 2-8, Parker 1-15, O'Malley 1-34-1; DeS: Baumgart 9-155-3, Gregg 6-78-1, D. Solomon 1-8, Wales 1-2-1, Fazzari 1-(-1), Matthews 3-83-1.