PULLMAN - The battle of unbeatens lived up to its hype here in a cold Martin Stadium on the Washington State University campus Monday evening in state Class 2B semifinal football playoff action.
Colfax fought back from a 14-0 deficit to grab its first lead of the night with 3:45 left, and the Bulldogs hung on for a 21-14 win over Waitsburg-Prescott.
"It was a great game," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "Being up 14-0 and shutting them down like we did in the first half is pretty hard to stomach. They came back and had a great second half. I give them the game ball for that. They have a great football program and team."
On the Bulldogs' second possession, Zach Bartlow fell on a bad Bulldog pitch and W-P took over at its own 47.
A leaping-hands catch by Kris Cady on a Bartlow pass was good for 27 yards and a first down at the Bulldog 26.
Following a short Cady run and a false start penalty, Bartlow scampered 17 yards to the Colfax 10. Cady finished the 53-yard drive with a 10-yard run to pay dirt and W-P led 6-0 with 4:58 left in the first quarter.
Colfax opened its bag of tricks on the first play of the ensuing possession - with good results for W-P. The halfback option pass found a white W-P shirt instead of a blue Bulldogs jersey as Zach Bartlow picked it off, and W-P went to work from the Bulldog 44.
The drive stalled at the Bulldog 15, and on fourth-and-11, Bartlow's pass was picked off by Tyler McNannay in his own end zone and returned to the Bulldog 9.
The W-P defense, led by David Brock's two tackles, one for a loss, forced a three-and-out and W-P, following a 25-yard punt, took over at the Colfax 32.
Cady made a catch on a short Bartlow throw in traffic and took it in from the 8. Cady threw a halfback pass to Dalton Estes for the 2-point conversion and W-P led 14-0 with 8:18 left in the half.
The W-P defense stopped the Colfax ground game, allowing only 19 yards of rushing offense in the first 23 minutes. Hence, the Bulldogs went to the air on its last first-half possession.
With 51 seconds left, Colfax took over at its own 37. Alex Teade connected with Justin Berarducci to cap the 63-yard drive (51 coming through the air) on a 15-yard scoring play with no time left in the half. W-P took a 14-7 lead to intermission.
"(Colfax) couldn't run the ball," coach Bartlow said. "They started to throw off the run, and we didn't get enough pressure on their quarterback."
In the third quarter, W-P had chances. On its first possession, W-P marched to the Bulldog 17, following a catch by Cady and a lateral and 6-yard run by Dustin Wooderchak, but the drive stalled.
W-P marched to the Bulldog 35 on its next possession before a penalty stopped the drive.
On its last possession of the quarter and following a Bulldog score, Zach Bartlow broke a 59-yard TD run only to see it called back on an illegal shift penalty. W-P came up empty for the period.
"We made too many mistakes," coach Bartlow said. "We had more interceptions than we've had all year. We had penalties that we haven't had for a long time. We have a motion penalty on the opposite side on a touchdown play. They didn't have a safety all game, so we knew that on any given running play, if we got by the linebackers, it would be a touchdown. There it was. That's 21-13 (if the TD had stood), and we've got an eight-point cushion and it's a different deal."
The Bulldogs got their third-period score on an 81-yard, four-and-a-half-minute march that culminated with a Teade-to-Kellen Morgan 24-yard score, but the Bulldogs missed the point-after and W-P clung to a 14-13 lead after three quarters.
W-P, following a 52-yard McNannay punt, opened its first fourth-period possession from its own 5.
A Berarducci pick and return set up Colfax at the W-P 6.
The W-P defense wasn't going to give up the lead.
Two plays and it was third-and-goal from the 2.
A false start on the Bulldogs moved it back to the 7. Eshom Estes batted down a Teade pass, and on fourth down Cady blocked a McNannay field goal attempt and W-P took over on the 9.
"That ‘D' stand, and blocked field goal, gave us some momentum," coach Bartlow said. "Then we had to punt and gave them another short field."
Colfax forced a three-and-out and took over at the W-P 45. Teade hit Damon Buck on the far sideline for 19 yards to cap the drive and produce a 19-14 Colfax lead. After a holding penalty, Teade hit Berarducci for a 16-yard 2-point conversion and a 21-14 Bulldog lead with 3:45 left in the game.
W-P suffered its fourth interception of the game on a fourth-and-7 from its own 28 on its ensuing possession and Colfax had the ball back at its own 37 with 2:05 left.
The Bulldogs suffered an anxious moment with a fumbled snap with 33 seconds left, and W-P's Brock came off the pile with the ball. But the ruling was that McNannay had recovered for the Bulldogs and Colfax ran out the clock.
The win sends Colfax (12-0) to the Class 2B title game, for the second consecutive year, against South Bend.
The loss ends W-P's season and the careers of the class of 2010.
W-P finishes the season 12-1.
"I had 12 seniors," coach Bartlow said. "They all contributed. They left a great legacy. We were a game short, but they have nothing to be ashamed of."
"At the beginning of the year, everyone expected us not to go very far," W-P senior lineman Brock said. "We proved them wrong. We went 12-1. We could've done a couple of things differently in this game, but everybody played their best.
"It was a phenomenal season," Brock continued. "It was the best team I've ever played on. I never thought I would be playing in this stadium (Martin Field).
"Ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to go to the Tacoma Dome, but knowing that we all stepped up (made) it a great season. It (the season) was awesome."
Colfax 21, Waitsburg-Prescott 14
W-P 6 8 0 0 - 14
Colfax 0 7 6 8 - 21
W-P - Cady 10 run (kick failed).
W-P - Cady 8 pass from Bartlow (D. Estes pass from Cady)
Colfax - Berarducci 15 pass from Teade (T. McNannay kick).
Colfax - Morgan 24 pass from Teade (kick failed).
Colfax - Buck 19 pass from Teade (Berarducci pass from Teade).
First Downs 9 12
Rushing 30-123 31-91
Passing 100 180
Passes 24-9-4 29-15-2
Punts 4-25.0 5-37.0
Penalties 7-55 7-53
Fumbles 1-0 2-1
Rushing - W-P: Bartlow 19-84, Cady 11-39-1; Colfax: Li 6-20, T. McNannay 21-54, Teade 3-18, Team 1-(-1).
Passing - W-P: Bartlow 9-24-4 100 yards 1 TD; Colfax: Teade 15-27-1 180 yards 3 TDs, T. McNannay 0-1-1, Team 0-1-0.
Receiving - W-P: D. Estes 2-10, Cady 6-48-1, Hofer 1-42; Colfax: T. McNannay 4-48, Li 4-33, Morgan 2-37-1, Berarducci 3-38-1, Buck 2-24.