WAITSBURG - Kettle Falls' Jesse Dodson broke a 55-yard touchdown scamper with less than two minutes gone and Waitsburg-Prescott, ranked No. 1 in the Washington state class 2B poll, found itself looking up from a 7-0 hole here Saturday in District 7/9 play-in action.
"We had a little stunt on and Billy (Brown) hit him but didn't wrap up," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "He (Dodson) bounced it out and our safety (Zach Bartlow) couldn't get an angle on him and he was gone. That (touchdown) was like ‘I can't believe that just happened'."
"We knew they were going to try and run it down our throats," W-P defensive back Justin Zuger said. "Even though they ran it down and scored right off the bat, I knew our team could come back and fight."
W-P ‘came back and fought' to a 54-21 win.
Dalton Estes returned the ensuing kick off 20 yards and the W-P offense went to work from its own 34.
Brown ran for 12 and six plays later, Zach Bartlow swept left into the end zone for nine yards. Jose Barajas added the extra point and W-P knotted the score at 7-7 with 7:41 left in the opening quarter.
"We didn't panic (after the quick Bulldog touchdown)," coach Bartlow said. "We came back and scored right away."
Kettle Falls started its second march from its own 15 after muffing the W-P kickoff, one of seven fumbles on the afternoon.
"We switched our defense up," Zuger said of the second Bulldog possession. "We brought in more defensive linemen and got a stop."
On the Bulldogs' first play, W-P's Jacob Cantuna dropped K-F's Austin Anderson and W-P showed signs of taking over.
"We talked about some gaps on defense, and got all of that stopped," coach Bartlow said. "We rose up a bit (on defense)."
A Bulldog fumble on third down led to Greg Stearns chasing down Bulldog quarterback Connor McKern back at his own 10.
A short punt put W-P in business at the Kettle Falls 36. W-P would take advantage of field position throughout the game as W-P started three more drives inside Bulldog territory at the 15, 27, and 44 before the half ended.
Bartlow ran out of the pocket for a 5-yard TD to put W-P up for good at 14-7 with 2:12 left in the first.
Cantuna, coming back from a thumb injury, took advantage of yet another Bulldog fumble to nail McKern for a 15-yard loss on a fourth down Bulldog gamble, and W-P opened the second quarter from the Bulldog 15.
"Cantuna played a lot in that first quarter," coach Bartlow said. "We put him in and went to our goal line D and he made a good play (the first-down stop) and got (after) the fumble."
W-P would score 26 second-quarter points to put this one out of reach. Dalton Estes scored on a 15-yard pass from Bartlow on the first snap of the period, Eshom Estes plowed in from the two, and Brown ran 52 yards to paydirt before a Zuger pick gave W-P one more shot from the Kettle Falls 44 with :28 left.
"That (pick) got us going to score," Zuger said. "We got the points before half."
With no time left in the half, Bartlow and Dalton Estes teamed up on a 22-yard strike down the near side line for a 40-14 W-P lead.
The only glitch in the quarter happened with 1:25 to go when Brandon Thomas got behind the W-P defense and McKern found him for a 48-yard strike.
"Somebody thought there was a (defensive) change," Zuger said of the Bulldog TD. "I thought we were to go to cover three and we were in cover one and we got beat over the top."
W-P went on a 60-yard drive to open the second half and seal the deal. A Bartlow to Zuger pass for 22 yards moved the ball to the Bulldog 5, and Bartlow went back to Zuger to finish the drive and open a 47-14 lead with 9:12 left in the third.
"(QB) Bartlow feels confident throwing to me," Zuger said. "It's first down and out of bounce routes I usually run."
On offense, everything clicked. Brown ran for two touchdowns and 159 yards, Bartlow ran for 94 and threw for 128 and three touchdowns, and Dalton Estes caught five balls for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
"We wanted to go 50-50 (run-pass)," coach Bartlow said. "They gave us a little on the run as they (concentrated) on taking away some (passing) routes, so we ran the ball pretty well (254 yards on the ground)."
On defense, W-P gave up only six first downs, recovered three fumbles, had an interception, and only allowed 196 yards on the ground, including an 81-yard scoring run from Dodson that came after this one was decided.
"Zuger just continues to play well on defense, another pick and lots of tackles," coach Bartlow said. "Brendon Donovan played well (on defense)."
W-P, with the win, advances to the state 2B playoffs as the No. 1 seed from District 7/9. W-P takes its No. 1 state ranking and a perfect 10-0 record into a Friday or Saturday home game with the Brewster/Soap Lake winner.
"We're healthy," coach Bartlow said. "That (staying healthy) is a huge part of anybody's success. This was a nice W and a nice way to push ourselves into the state tournament."
"Our team, altogether, played their hearts out," Zuger added. "Yes, (we're ready for the next challenge)."
Waitsburg-Prescott 54, Kettle Falls 21
Kettle Falls 7 7 0 7 - 21
Waitsburg-Prescott 14 26 7 7 - 54
KF -Dodson 55 run (Bitzan kick).
W-P - Bartlow 9 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - Bartlow 5 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - D. Estes 15 pass from Bartlow (kick failed).
W-P - E. Estes 2 run (Pass failed).
KF - Thomas 48 pass from McKern (Bitzan kick).
W-P - Brown 52 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - D. Estes 22 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Zuger 5 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - brown 5 run (Barajas kick).
KF - Dodson 81 run (Bitzan kick).
First downs 6 18
Rushes/yards 32-196 32-254
Passing yards 69 135
Passes (att-comp-int) 11-4-1 27-16-0
Punts 3-34.0 3-38.0
Fumbles-lost 7-3 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-9 2-20
RUSHING - KF: Anderson 15-37, McNeil 6-29, Dodson 5-144, McKern 4-(-26), Thomas 2-12; W-P: Brown 15-159, Bartlow 11-94, E. Estes 1-2, Acevedo 1-1, Stansell 1-2, Dill 2-(-3), Lanning 1-(-1).
PASSING - KF: McKern 3-10-1, 55 yards, 1 TD, Thomas 1-1-0, 14 yards, 0 TDs; W-P: Bartlow 15-26-0, 128 yards, 3 TDs, Eastman 1-1-0, 7 yards, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING - KF: Thomas 2-51-1, Anderson 1-4, McKern 1-14; W-P: Wooderchak 1-5, Acevedo 2-(-2), D. Estes 5-55-2, Stevens 3-25, Zuger 4-45-1, Alexenco 1-7.