PASCO - Neither cold, rain, sleet, snow, nor Lind-Ritzville/Sprague could keep Waitsburg-Prescott from marching into the semifinals of the state Class 2B football playoffs here at Edgar Brown Stadium Saturday afternoon.
W-P forced four Bronco turnovers and scored in every quarter to defeat the Broncos 42-7.
"We haven't played very well in the cold in recent times," W-P quarterback Zach Bartlow said. "This is probably the best offensive game we've played in the cold."
L-R ran 56 offensive plays to 34 for W-P, but W-P out gained L-R 452 yards to 305.
"Our kids came out and played hard right away," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "Defensively, we were in a bend-but-don't-break kind of deal. They had way more offensive snaps than we did. That was an ironic thing. Our O-line is continuing to get better.
"The environment was great, our opponent gave us a great game, and we wanted to get in a situation where we could play to get into the title game," he said. "That's where we're at."
The Broncos took the opening kick off and marched to the W-P 20, converting two fourth downs along the way.
On second-and-ten, W-P's Chance Leroue sacked L-R quarterback Dylan Hartz for a 9-yard loss, and the Broncos only got four yards in two plays as W-P took over on downs at its own 25.
"Coach sent my linebacker and I on a blitz," freshman defensive lineman Leroue said. "They (the Broncos) didn't pick it up very well. I just ran as hard as I could and tried to get a stop."
After the Broncos took more than seven minutes off the clock, W-P took 20 seconds to grab the lead. Bartlow connected with Dustin Wooderchak for 13 yards, and Billy Brown went off the left side, behind Ben Shafer and Cadman Donovan, and took it 62 yards to the house. Jose Barajas added the first of his six consecutive PAT kicks and W-P led 7-0 with 4:19 to play in the first.
"Eshom (Estes) and I double team," Leroue said of his responsibilities on the o-line away from Brown's run, "then we go to a linebacker so they can't follow and make a play."
Brown looked to ice this one early as W-P drove to the L-R 18 on its next possession, but, as Brown was going in, the ball popped loose and the Broncos' Cort Ruzicka recovered in the end zone.
A Bartlow interception at W-P's 18 ended the ensuing L-R drive, but the W-P drive stalled at the L-R 40.
After a Bronco punt, W-P took over on its own 29, and drove to a third-and-four at the L-R 24.
Justin Zuger made a diving catch in front of the Bronco defenders for five yards and a W-P first down.
Bartlow hit Devin Acevedo for 19 yards and the score with :46 left in the half. W-P went to intermission up 14-0.
"That touchdown, right before half, is always a huge touchdown for the team that gets it," coach Bartlow said. "At halftime, it made us excited."
To open the second half, W-P went to the air. Bartlow found Wooderchak for 51 yards, and four plays later Bartlow teamed with Dalton Estes for 13 yards and a 21-0 lead with 9:04 left in the third.
"We started to run and had that first big run (Brown's TD), then they started to load the box," quarterback Bartlow said. "We had to spread them out a little bit with the throw. We took a couple of chances and got a couple of big plays. Our O-line did well. They (L-R) were blitzing a lot, and we had just enough time for me to get the ball off."
W-P applied the clincher on the Broncos' second possession of the half. Following a 31-yard pass completion from Hartz to Jake Dewald, L-R had a first-and-goal at the W-P three.
A bad snap in the shotgun formation went over Hartz' head and bounced around back at the W-P 17. Bartlow picked up the loose ball with nothing but green turf in front of him, went 83 yards and W-P had this one wrapped up with a 28-0 lead with :40 left in the third.
"We were in a cover zero, so I was on the guy in motion and he motioned right into the box," safety Bartlow said. "I saw the bad snap and charged it. The quarterback dove on it and I thought he had it. Chance (Leroue) punched it out. I decided to go for the big play (and not dive on it) and it worked."
"Chance made that play," coach Bartlow said. "Zach scooped and scored. It was a huge play on Chance's part as much as Zach's.
"That was a back breaker when you're on the three and don't score and then we score," coach Bartlow said.
L-R got on the board on a 4-yard Connor O'Neill run, but Brown answered with a 51-yard TD scamper, over his left side, for a 35-7 W-P lead with 7:45 left.
"We won the line play," coach Bartlow said. "That was a big key."
Brown ran for 191 yards on 12 carries, Bartlow threw to six different receivers for 202 yards and two scores. Acevedo caught three for 78 yards and a touchdown to lead the W-P posse of receivers.
W-P improves to 12-0 and in a repeat of last year's semifinal will face 11-0 Colfax, a 42-37 winner over White Swan, at a time and place to be determined.
"It pumped me up," freshman Leroue said of his first quarterfinal experience. "I'm glad we made it. Colfax is a good team and we're going to have to work even harder this week."
Last year, Colfax prevailed 21-14 to end W-P's season.
"It's the same situation (as last year)," senior co-captain Bartlow said. "This year, we're playing with a lot more confidence, and we're ready to go."
Waitsburg-Prescott 42, Lind-Ritzville/Sprague 7
L-R 0 0 0 7 - 7
W-P 7 7 14 14 - 42
W-P - Brown 62 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - Acevedo 19 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - D. Estes 22 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Bartlow 83 fumble recovery return (Barajas kick).
L-R - O'Neill 4 run (Huitron kick).
W-P - Brown 51 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - Tompkins 15 run (Barajas kick).
First downs 19 14
Rushes/yards 43-140 21-250
Passing yards 165 202
Passes (att-comp-int) 27-13-3 19-13-0
Punts 3-33.3 1-40.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 3-25 5-36
RUSHING - L-R: O'Neill 14-69, Hartz 4-19, Steinmetz 17-53, Greenwalt 3-18, Canaday 1-17, Team 4-(-36); W-P: Brown 12-191, Bartlow 8-44, Tompkins 1-15.
PASSING - L-R: Hartz 13-26-2, 165 yards, 0 TDs, Greenwalt 0-1-1, 0 yards, 0 TDs; W-P: Bartlow 13-19-0, 202 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING - L-R: O'Neill 3-56, Fryberger 1-9, Steinmetz 3-5, Whitmore 2-19, Dewald 4-76; W-P: Wooderchak 2-64, D. Estes 4-39-1, Brown 1-(-1), Zuger 2-17, Acevedo 3-78-1, Stevens 1-5.