PALOUSE, Wash. - If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
That was the Touchet Indians' attitude here Friday night. On defense, at any rate.
After Garfield-Palouse marched the length of the field and scored on Kevin Knauff's 8-yard touchdown run to snag an early 8-0 lead in a Southeast 1B-8 League football game, Indians coach Gary Dorman implemented an adjustment in his defensive line.
On the Vikings' next two possessions, they scored on a 75-yard run by Knauff and an 80-yard romp by Riley Hodges and led 24-20 after a hectic, high-scoring first quarter.
So Dorman adjusted his defensive scheme again. And this time it worked as the Indians limited the Vikes to just a pair of scores over the final three quarters and pulled away to a 76-36 victory that extended their undefeated record to 7-0.
"They had this big offensive line," Dorman said, referring to center Mitch Jamison (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), guard Zach Reiber (6-0, 290) and end Nathan Cocking (6-2, 255). "And they were running right behind those guys between our defensive end and tackle. So our first adjustment was to move our tackles a little wider.
"But then they popped those two runs up the middle. Their backs were fast, quick through the hole, and once they got in the open we couldn't catch them."
In the second quarter, Dorman shifted senior defensive tackle Matt Shute to a nose guard position which freed up junior Jose Martinez at middle linebacker.
"We had practiced that defense a little bit during the week," Dorman said. "It allowed Jose to blitz, and we were able to get more guys flowing to where the ball went. Jose did a nice job of sliding around behind their blockers."
Dorman also had high praise for 160-pound junior linebacker Cory Ochoa, who spent the entire night taking on the blocks of the 255-pound Cocking and registering 12 tackles in the process.
"I think Cory did two seasons of work in one night," Dorman said of Ochoa. "He got beat up but, he never gave up. He fought those guys all night because they were running 80 percent of their plays right at him."
The Touchet defense yielded 438 yards rushing (201 yards in the first quarter), with Hodges going for 249 yards on 26 carries and Knauff adding 161 on 19 trips. The Indians countered with 393 yards of their own on the ground, with Jose Martinez leading the way with 232 yards on 11 carries and junior Vicente Flores adding 137 yards on eight tries.
The difference, clearly, was in the passing game where Indians sophomore quarterback Elias Martinez completed three of his four passing attempts for 161 yards and three touchdowns and junior Octavio Preciado added a halfback pass for 29 yards and a score. Gar-Pal QB Anthony Floyd connected on just 2-of-6 passes for 19 yards.
Flores and Elias Martinez scored on runs of 2 and 7 yards, respectively, for the Indians' first two touchdowns, and Elias Martinez hooked up with senior Eric Hines on an 88-yard TD. But Touchet's inability to convert two of its three two-point attempts resulted in a four-point deficit going to the second quarter.
Elias Martinez found Flores for a 44-yard score to open the second-quarter scoring as the Indians regained the lead. But Gar-Pal's Wyatt Mitchell broke free on a 40-yard TD run and the Vikings were back on top 30-26.
But it was all Touchet after that as the Indians' offense continued to score at will while the defense forced one Gar-Pal punt, pounced on three of the Vikings' four fumbles and also came up with a goal-line stand. Jose Martinez's 56-yard touchdown run midway in the fourth quarter bumped the Indians' lead to 40 points and enforced the 40-point mercy rule.
The first-place Indians are now 5-0 in the SEB-8 and remain one game in front of Colton and Pomeroy in the loss column. The Wildcats, who dispatched Sunnyside Christian 65-22 Friday night, are 4-1 while the Pirates, who rolled to a 68-28 non-league victory over Liberty Christian, remained at 3-1.
With four teams qualifying for this year's Class B-8 state playoffs - not three as in past seasons - Touchet, Pomeroy and Colton are assured of postseason berths. But the Indians can clinch the league championship outright when they entertain Pomeroy next Friday.
"For us, the Pomeroy game will set the tempo going into the playoffs," Dorman said. "And they right now are what I consider the premier team in the league."
The Pirates suffered their only loss of the season at the hands of Colton, 54-52, Sept. 23 in Pomeroy. Two weeks later, the Indians knocked off the Wildcats 48-38 in Touchet for Colton's only loss so far.
Touchet 76, Garfield-Palouse 36
Touchet 20 28 14 14 - 76
Gar-Pal 24 6 6 0 - 36
G-P - Knauff 8 run (Hodges run).
Tou - Flores 2 run (J. Martinez run).
G-P - Knauff 75 run (Hodges run).
Tou - E. Martinez 7 run (run failed).
G-P - Hodges 80 run (Knauff run).
Tou - Hines 88 pass from E. Martinez (run failed).
Tou - Flores 44 pass from E. Martinez (run failed).
G-P - Mitchell 40 run (run failed).
Tou - Flores 49 run (run failed).
Tou - J. Martinez 3 run (run failed).
Tou - J. Martinez 57 run (Ochoa pass from E. Martinez).
Tou - Hines 29 pass from E. Martinez (Preciado run).
Tou - Flores 29 pass from Preciado (run failed).
G-P - Mitchell 23 pass from Floyd (run failed).
Tou - J. Martinez 55 run (J. Martinez run).
Tou - J. Martinez 56 run (PAT not attempted).
First downs 14 21
Rushes/yards 26-393 50-438
Passing yards 190 19
Passes (att-comp-int) 5-4-0 6-2-0
Punts 1-45 1-24
Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-3
Penalties-yards 2-13 3-21
RUSHING - Touchet: Flores 8-137, J. Martinez 11-232, Preciado 2-9, E. Martinez 5-15; Garfield-Palouse: Hodges 25-249, Knauff 19-161, Floyd 6-28.
PASSING - Touchet: E. Martinez 3-4-0, 161 yards 3 touchdowns; Preciado 1-1-0, 29 yards, 1 TD. Garfield-Palouse: Floyd 2-6-0, 19 yards, 1 touchdown./
RECEIVING - Touchet: Hines 2-117-2, Flores 2-73-2; Garfield-Palouse: Mitchell 2-19-1.