TOUCHET - The time clock on the scoreboard in the south end zone blinked to fewer than 90 seconds of play here Saturday on what turned out to be a sun-splashed autumn afternoon.
Touchet senior quarterback Jake Hodnefield, who had already run for two touchdowns and passed for two others, was on the sidelines with an assortment of physical woes.
And visiting Garfield-Palouse had just scored its first touchdown of the second half a couple of minutes earlier. Now the Vikings defense was trying to protect a 34-32 lead and secure an important victory in the Southeast 1B-8 League football game.
With his team's postseason playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Indians backup QB Matt Kates faced a fourth-and-13 from his own 48-yard line with 1:26 remaining in the game. Kates dropped straight back in the pocket, surveyed the field and delivered a perfect 20-yard spiral to junior tight end Eric Hines, who was cutting across the middle of the field.
Hines made a two-handed, over-the-shoulder catch between two Gar-Pal defenders, stepped through their attempted tackles and raced untouched the rest of the way to the end zone to complete the 52-yard scoring play and vault the home team in front, 38-34.
One defensive stop later, the Indians celebrated their first victory in four weeks and snapped a three-game losing streak in the process. Most important of all, they're still in playoff contention, albeit on the outer fringes.
"We've got a chance," coach Gary Dorman said after perhaps the biggest victory in his two seasons as the Indians' head coach. "But we've got to win out, and we are going to need some help."
For the Indians, now 2-3 in league games and 4-3 overall, winning out means surviving a rugged road game at Pomeroy Friday night against a Pirates team that is 2-2 in the SEB-8. Touchet's regular-season finale the following week, a Nov. 3 home game against Liberty Christian, is a non-counter.
Help will have to come in the form of a Lacrosse-Washtucna loss at last-place Sunnyside Christian the final week of the season and at least one more Gar-Pal defeat, either to Sunnyside Christian next weekend on the Vikings field or at Colton in the finale.
League-leading St. John-Endicott (4-0, 6-1) and second place Colton (3-1, 4-4) are already out of the Indians' reach in the battle for three postseason playoff tickets.
Knowing there's still hope, however, should be enough to keep the Indians focused on a physical Pirates team this coming week. And Dorman can only hope that Hodnefield, who had touchdown runs of 68 and 62 yards in the first half Saturday and TD passes of 49 and 48 yards to sophomore Octavio Preciado, can get back on the field.
"He was out of gas," Dorman said in explaining why Hodnefield was on the sidelines during the Indians' game-winning drive. "He also got hit in the ribs, and his arm was sore.
"But Matt (Kates) has played quarterback before for us," Dorman added. "He's not the runner Jake is, he's not that great an offensive threat, but he stands tall in the pocket and throws the ball with a lot of touch."
After a bizarre first half in which Garfield-Palouse ran 46 offensive plays compared to 12 for the Indians, the teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 26-26.
Vikings quarterback Anthony Floyd engineered four long scoring drives in the first half, finishing three of them with touchdown passes and the fourth on his own 1-yard sneak. He hit Wyatt Mitchell on scoring plays of 35 and 22 yards and found fullback Riley Hodges on a 5-yard TD toss.
Touchet countered by scoring three touchdowns on their first three plays from scrimmage. Hodnefield ran for two of those and found Preciado open down field for the third. The Indians' fourth score was also a Hodnefield-to-Preciado bomb, and Hodnefield added the two-point conversion run to knot the score before halftime.
Touchet got the ball first in the second half and took its first lead of the game five plays later as Hodnefield scored on a 1-yard run.
Surprisingly, the defenses took over after that. Touchet picked off two Floyd passes in the end zone - one each by Hodnefield and Hines - and Hines also recovered a fumble. The Vikings intercepted Hodnefield once after the break, forced a punt and also stopped Touchet on a fourth-down play.
Lange's 1-yard touchdown plunge with 3:47 remaining in the game capped a 15-play drive, and Lane added the two-pointer to put the Vikings back on top 34-32 and set the stage for Kates' game-winning strike.
Touchet 38, Gar-Pal 34
Gar-Pal 20 6 0 8 - 34
Touchet 18 8 6 6 - 38
G-P - Mitchell 35 pass from Floyd (run failed).
Tou - Hodnefield 62 run (run failed).
G-P - Floyd 1 run (pass failed).
Tou - Preciado 49 pass from Hodnefield (pass failed).
G-P - Mitchell 22 pass from Floyd (Floyd run).
Tou - Hodnefield 68 run (run failed).
G-P - Hodges 5 pass from Floyd (run failed).
Tou - Preciado 48 pass from Hodnefield (Hodnefield run).
Tou - Hodnefield 1 run (run failed).
G-P - Floyd 1 run (Lange run).
Tou - Hines 52 pass from Kates (pass failed).
First downs 25 11
Rushes/yards 71-275 18-196
Passing yards 96 236
Passes (att-comp-int) 9-5-2 19-8-2
Punts 1-34 1-36
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-33
RUSHING - Garfield-Palouse: Hodges 18-112, Lange 37-146, Floyd 16-17; Touchet: Hodnefield 11-182, Preciado 6-17, Kates 1-(-3).
PASSING - Garfield-Palouse: Floyd 5-9-2, 96 yards, 3 touchdowns. Touchet: Hodnefield 6-15-2, 180 yards, 2 TDs; Kates 2-4-0, 56 yards, 1 TD.
RECEIVING - Garfield-Palouse: Mitchell 3-77-2, Lange 1-14-0, Hodges 1-5-1; Touchet: Preciado 7-184-2, Hines 1-52-1.