WAITSBURG - Waitsburg-Prescott demolished Asotin Friday night, securing the Southeast 2B championship for the third year in a row and making a statement at the same time.
W-P scored 48 unanswered points on its first seven drives before the Panthers finally got on the board in the fourth quarter to make the final 48-20.
After two relatively sub-par performances - a 7-6 squeaker over rival Dayton and a 26-20 victory over last place Tri-Cities Prep - W-P needed to prove it deserved to be undefeated.
"We just played so tentative," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said of the victory over T-C Prep. "We've got a bunch of great kids that can be real physical and I just don't know how physical we were last week.
"I thought that was special, to come in and make a statement, because we're a better football team than we showed last week and our kids know it," he said. "The bottom line is, it was important to come out and win a game convincingly."
No play better exemplified that effort than when W-P faced a fourth-and-goal from the Panther 6 with 15 seconds left in the first half. W-P was up 27-0 and senior kicker Jose Barajas had nailed all but one PAT thus far. Senior quarterback Zach Bartlow had already tried twice to connect with receiver Dalton Estes in the end zone - and each time the pass fell incomplete.
Instead of taking the easy points, however, coach Bartlow put his faith in his players and called a pass play one more time.
This time, it paid off.
Quarterback Bartlow took the snap and rolled to his right, away from pressure, and found himself just yards away from a wide-open Estes again. Estes handled the pass, Barajas the PAT, and Waitsburg-Prescott once again looked like a well-oiled machine.
Bartlow, whose numbers had slid against Dayton and T-C Prep, had a banner day. He completed just 11-of-23 passes for 121 yards on the night, but of those passes, three went for touchdowns. He ran for one more and returned an interception 67 yards for another score, bringing his total to five for the game. He also ran for 105 yards on seven attempts, including a 42-yard read-option keeper in the first quarter.
Bartlow struggled with accuracy early, overthrowing several touchdown passes, but he wasn't helped by his receivers, who dropped several easy completions.
"He (Zach) had a good game," coach Bartlow said. "Last week, even though he threw three touchdowns over the top, he can play much better. He had to come in and really play a good game; it was important for him to do it and it was important for the kids around him to see him do it.
"There's always room for improvement, but he (Zach Bartlow) made a statement for the offense, certainly, and all the kids around him stepped up, too," coach Bartlow said.
Waitsburg-Prescott did struggle in the running game, however, as the normally explosive Billy Brown had only 30 yards on 13 rushes. Brown still had two touchdowns on the night - one on the ground and one on a shovel pass from Bartlow - but was limited by an offensive line that struggled to open lanes against a stiff Asotin D-line.
Overall, W-P tallied 263 yards of offense, with Bartlow accounting for 226 of those yards.
W-P's first touchdown came with 6:59 left in the first quarter. Bartlow faced a third-and-goal from the 14. A play earlier, Bartlow had been called for illegal grounding when he threw away the ball as he was being sacked. He again faced pressure but this time managed to break the first tackle and scramble into the end zone.
On W-P's next drive, Brown took a screen from Bartlow 15 yards after breaking another tackle in the backfield to set W-P up with a first-and-goal at the Asotin 10. Two plays later, Brown cut to the right and made a diving leap into the end zone for the score.
An awkward kickoff into the wind from Barajas led to a punt-like hang time on the kick. Several Panthers attempted to fall on the ball, but Estes beat them to it and W-P took over on the Asotin 19-yard line.
It only took one play for W-P to make the Panthers pay, as Estes made a diving catch past the right pylon on a 19-yarder from Bartlow to give W-P two touchdowns in seven seconds and a 20-0 lead.
Asotin then showed some life, picking up three first downs and 32 yards in its next drive, but consecutive false starts left the Panthers facing a third-and-10 at the W-P 33.
W-P flushed Parsons from the pocket and instead of throwing the ball away or taking the sack, the quarterback tried to force a pass through triple coverage. Bartlow snagged the pass and weaved through the Asotin offense-cum-defense for a back-breaking touchdown with 6:07 left in the half.
Waitsburg-Prescott has one regular-season game left, a matchup with Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia Friday at 7 p.m. in Waitsburg.
Waitsburg-Prescott 48. Asotin 20
Aso 0 0 0 20 - 20
W-P 7 27 7 7 - 48
W-P - Bartlow 14 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - Brown 2 run (kick failed).
W-P - Estes 19 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Bartlow 67 interception return (Barajas kick).
W-P - Estes 6 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Brown 9 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
W-P - Leroue 2 run (Barajas kick).
Aso - Miller 32 pass from Parsons (kick blocked).
Aso - Glover 6 run (Parsons run).
Aso - Forsberg 25 fumble return (kick failed).
First downs 12 9
Rushes/yards 32-133 27-162
Passing yards 70 121
Passes (att-comp-int) 4-11-1 11-23-0
Punts 2-35 0-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 5-29 4-35
RUSHING - Aso: Loseth 3-(-2), Miller 9-27, Forsberg 7-36, Glover 9-66 Parsons 4-6; W-P: Brown 13-30, Bartlow 7-105, Estes 1-18, Leroue 3-3, Stansell 1-3, Tompkins 1-(-4), Eastman 1-7.
PASSING - Aso: Parsons 3-9-1 76 yards, Loseth 1-(-6); W-P: Bartlow 11-23-0 121 yards.
RECEIVING - Aso: Dalton 1-7, Miller 2-69, Glover 1-(-6); W-P: Larue 1-8, Estes 4-52, Zuger 1-10, Wooderchak 2-18, Acevedos 1-9, Brown 2-24.