WALLA WALLA - Two Southeast 2B Conference heavyweights squared off at DeSales' Ty Baffney Field in the SE2B football opener for both squads Friday night.
Waitsburg-Prescott scored 19 unanswered second-half points to break a 14-14 halftime deadlock as W-P went on to post a 33-14 win over DeSales.
"It was a great game," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "I knew they (DeSales) would bring their ‘A' game and they did. Our offense and long drives took the day for us. We moved the ball on the ground and in the air."
Both teams moved the ball at will in the first half. An errant snap stopped the first Irish drive and the Irish defense stopped W-P at the Irish 18 and the offense took over.
After a Nick Wales eight-yard run, and a Jeremiah Cox-to-Darryl Galloway 17-yard pass play, Cox hit Ryan Baumgart for 57 yards and DeSales led 7-0 with 4:43 to play in the first quarter.
Billy Brown opened the ensuing W-P possession with a 21-yard scamper to start an 83-yard, 11-play drive. W-P faced a fourth-and-6 from the Irish 13, but Zach Bartlow hit Dalton Estes with a 13-yard scoring pass and W-P pulled even at 7-7 with 11:07 to play in the half.
The Irish answered with a 71-yard, 12-play drive of their own. A Cox-to-Joe Duehn 23-yard completion highlighted the drive and Cox capped it with a six-yard scoring toss to Galloway with 5:13 left.
"We played well in the first half," Irish coach Pat Graham said. "We were able to execute and do the things we needed to do."
Back came W-P to drive 88 yards in 5:05. Estes caught four Bartlow passes for 34 yards to highlight the march to a fourth-and-5 at the Irish 40 with 1:10 to play. W-P went for it and Bartlow hit Justin Zuger for 10 yards and a first down at the Irish 30.
"We decided we were going to go for it on fourth down," coach Bartlow said. "We couldn't stop them (DeSales). They had our number. We didn't play very sound defensively. But we made it (the fourth-down conversion) happen. It (going for it on fourth down) was a huge risk, but it was worth the risk to move forward."
Bartlow hit Estes twice for 11 and 14 yards, and W-P was at the 6 with 9.2 ticks left. Bartlow scrambled from the Irish pressure and found Estes in the end zone with .9 seconds left, and the teams went to intermission tied at 14-14.
"That was awesome," Estes said of his second TD catch of the night. "You have to have a lot of faith in your quarterback getting it in the end zone, and you go get it. He (Zach Bartlow) does (get it in the end zone). He's a very good quarterback."
The last-second score turned the momentum as W-P got the ball back to start the second half.
"They drove it 88 yards right before halftime and Zach (Bartlow) made some nice throws and some nice plays," Graham said. "We had a couple of guys out of position on a few of those and had an opportunity to stop them. But, that's the thing about Zach. He always makes a big play when they need it."
"That touchdown before halftime is a killer," coach Bartlow said. "It is hard to deal with for the team on D. Then we get the ball right back to start the second half."
After Estes returned the second-half kickoff 19 yards to the W-P 25, Brown broke a 26-yard gallop to begin a 75-yard scoring march.
Zach Bartlow hit Dustin Wooderchak for 10 yards to move the chains to the Irish 37. Bartlow ran for seven and Estes made a diving catch in the end zone for a 30-yard score - his third TD reception of the game - and Jose Barajas added the point after, and W-P had the lead for the first time at 21-14 with 9:43 left in the third.
"All you could do is lay out and hope you catch it when you're in the end zone," Estes said. "You don't know where you're at. When you land, it sure looks cool when you look up at the ref and he's got his arms up."
If the first half belonged to the offenses, the second-half belonged to the W-P defense.
W-P kept DeSales out of the end zone, got a sack from Danny Stansell, a tackle for a loss and a bat-down of a Cox pass from Eshom Estes, as well as forcing two turnovers.
"We worked hard to make (defensive) changes at halftime," coach Bartlow said. "We made a couple of little (personnel) adjustments and we brought automatic heat on some of their formations. We set up the automatic heat and pressured more. That helped us."
After Brown climaxed an 11-play, 65-yard march with a three-yard plunge to put W-P on top 27-14 with 8:24 left in the game, DeSales connected on a 26-yard pass from Cox to Duehn to the Irish 46, but W-P stripped the ball and Zach Bartlow fell on the loose ball. Four plays later, Bartlow took it to the house from 40 yards out and W-P led 33-14 with 4:34 to play.
The Irish came right back with catches by Baumgart for 14 yards, Galloway for 10 and seven, an 11-yard scamper from Luke Fazzari and an eight-yard pickup on a screen to Fazzari, to march from their own 22 to the W-P 14. Cox threw to the end zone for Galloway, but Zach Bartlow picked it off in the end zone, and W-P ran out the clock.
"There were a couple of times when we had some wide-open guys and couldn't connect," Graham said of the second half. "They (W-P) got the momentum back and drove down and made it a two-score game. When you play against a great opponent, there's always four or five plays that make the difference. Plays you almost make or just miss. You have to give credit to their (W-P) players, they made the plays in clutch situations."
For W-P, Zach Bartlow threw for 205 yards and rushed for 130. Brown ran for 159 yards - 118 of those coming in the second half - and Dalton Estes caught 13 passes for 151 yards.
Cox threw for 265 yards for the Irish, Baumgart caught five passes for 94 yards, Galloway had seven receptions for 70 yards, and Duehn caught four for 73 yards.
The Irish (2-2, 0-1) travel to Rosalia to meet Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia Friday.
W-P (5-0, 1-0) returns home to meet Dayton Friday.
Waitsburg-Prescott 33, DeSales 14
W-P 0 14 7 12 - 33
DeSales 7 7 0 0 - 14
DeS - Baumgart 57 pass from Cox (Martinez kick).
W-P - D. Estes 13 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
DeS - Galloway 6 pass from Cox (Martinez kick).
W-P - D. Estes 6 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - D. Estes 30 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Brown 3 run (kick failed).
W-P - Bartlow 40 run (run failed).
First downs 18 13
Rushes/yards 35-288 18-43
Passing yards 205 265
Passes (att-comp-int) 28-20-0 33-20-1
Punts 1-42 2-34
Fumbles-lost 3-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 6-45 3-17
RUSHING - W-P: Bartlow 18-130, Brown 16-159, Team 1-(-1); DeS: Wales 12-49, Cox 3-5, Fazzari 1-11, Team 2-(-22).
PASSING - W-P: Bartlow 20-28-0. 205 yards, 3 TDs; DeS: Cox 20-33-1, 265 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING - W-P: D. Estes 13-151-3, Zuger 1-10, Acevedo 3-23, Wooderchak 2-15, Stevens 1-6; DeS: Baumgart 5-94-1, Galloway 7-70-1, Duehn 4-73, Wales 1-(-1), Pommerening 1-11, Zuger 2-18.