TOUCHET - Yielding huge chunks of yardage isn't anything new for the Touchet Indians' defense.
Garfield-Palouse rushed for 438 yards just a week ago. Earlier in the year, Lacrosse-Washtucna combined for 491 yards running and passing. And Colton burned the Indians for 397 yards passing and added another 136 on the ground.
The Indians won all three of those games.
So what was the difference here Friday afternoon as Pomeroy rumbled for 457 yards rushing and handed Touchet a 48-42 defeat for the Tribe's first loss of the season?
The answer is simple. The Pirates defense did a better job of keeping Touchet's longball offense in check, especially in the first half when the Indians managed just 70 yards of total offense and fell behind 30-14 in the Southeast 1B-8 League football showdown.
"Our running game took a little bit of a hit," Indians coach Gary Dorman admitted. "I will give credit for that to good defense on their part. They took away some of the things that have been so effective for us all year long."
And that forced Elias Martinez, the Indians' sophomore quarterback, to put the ball in the air more often than any time this season.
"We had to pass more, and Elias was under a little more pressure," Dorman said. "It's just one of those things that you can't simulate in practice, and he's just a sophomore. It's the first time he's been under that type of pressure all year.
"Still," Dorman added, "he made some nice throws. He made some he'd like to have back and try again, but he still threw for four touchdowns."
Martinez completed 7-of-16 passes for 106 yards and threw two TD passes to senior Eric Hines and two more to junior Vicente Flores. But he also threw three interceptions, the last one coming on the final play of the game after the Indians had recovered an onside kick near midfield with 18 seconds remaining in the game.
Pomeroy's Kade Snyder, a freshman, made that pick after senior Jacob Moore had picked off the first two in the second and third quarters.
"Our goal was not to give up the big plays," Pomeroy coach Sanford Bates said. "It's one of the ways they score a lot. We wanted to make them work their way down the field, no easy plays."
However, if the best defense is a good offense, the Pirates played that game to near perfection Friday.
Running backs Tory Knebel and Austin Reisdorph kept the Touchet defense occupied and junior quarterback Ryan Smith made the Indians pay dearly. Knebel, a senior, and Reisdorph, a junior, pounded away at the line for 212 yards combined, and Smith exploited the perimeters for 245 yards on his own.
"I thought our kids did a good job of stopping two-thirds of their offense," Dorman said of Knebel, who rushed for 108 yards, and Reisdorph, who picked up 104. "What was so frustrating was that other third.
"Their quarterback is a good athlete, and he runs that little quarterback bootleg better than anybody we've seen. We were prepared for it, but we didn't get it done. A couple of times we were real sure it was coming and we still couldn't get it stopped. That's another thing that is hard to simulate in practice, and it got our kids off guard."
Pomeroy never punted in the game and put together consecutive scoring drives of 55, 80, 73 and 53 yards in the first half. Reisdorph scored on runs a 23, 4 and 1 yards, and Smith added a 5-yard TD scamper.
Touchet answered the first touchdown when Eric Hines bolted around his left end on a 68-yard kickoff return that was the Indians' longest play of the game. The Indians scored their second TD with 30 seconds remaining before halftime when Martinez hooked up with Hines on a 25-yard pass into the end zone.
"We let them back in it right there before the half," Bates said. "That gave them a little life, but fortunately we were able to keep scoring on offense."
Touchet got the ball first in the third quarter and sped 37 yards in four plays, capped by Jose Martinez's 9-yard blast up the middle. The Pirates countered on Knebel's 2-yard touchdown run that finished off a 71-yard march.
The Indians then put together their first sustained drive of the game, advancing 64 yards in nine plays, with Elias Martinez passing 21 yards to Flores for the score. Octavio Preciado's two-point conversion run drew the Indians within 36-28 and made it a one-possession game.
But Smith's 2-yard score one play after his 57-yard scamper gave the Pirates a 42-28 cushion as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
The teams exchanged turnovers - Elias Martinez was intercepted; Reisdorph lost a fumble that was recovered by Dan Can - before the Indians made their final push. Facing a fourth-and-goal at the Pirates' 5-yard-line, Elias Martinez flipped a pass to Flores, who made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone.
Jose Martinez's two-pointer drew the Indians within six points, 42-26, with 7:01 to play.
However, the Pirates chomped up all but 1:15 of that time as they marched 80 yards in 12 plays. Smith scored on a 22-yard run and the Pirates led 48-36.
"We just couldn't get them stopped," Dorman lamented.
However, it took the Indians just three plays to cover 52 yards and cut the difference back to six points. Elias Martinez's hit Flores for 25 yards, sprinted for another 26 and then flipped a 1-yard score to Hines with 22.1 seconds on the clock.
Flores then recovered his own onside kick. But after a 2-yard completion to Jose Martinez on a scramble play, Elias Martinez's rushed pass over the middle fell into the arms of Snyder and the Indians were saddled with their first defeat.
Touchet remains alone atop the league standings for the moment with a 5-1 record. But Pomeroy and Colton, both 4-1, are expected to win their final league games Thursday - the Pirates host 1-4 St. John-Endicott and Colton plays at 3-2 Garfield-Palouse - and earn a share of the SEB-8 championship.
If that's the way it winds up, Pomeroy will be the league's No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, Touchet No. 2 and Colton third based on a preseason tiebreaker draw. Pomeroy and Touchet will both get home games in the first round while Colton and Gar-Pal, the likely No. 4 seed, will be forced on the road.
Touchet wraps up its regular season in a non-counter against Liberty Christian Thursday at Hanford High School beginning at 7 p.m.
Pomeroy 48, Touchet 42
Pomeroy 16 14 12 6 - 48
Touchet 8 6 14 14 - 42
Pom - Reisdorph 23 run (Smith run).
Tou - Hines 68 kickoff return (Flores run).
Pom - Reisdorph 1 run (Reisdorph run).
Pom - Smith 5 run (pass failed).
Pom - Reisdorph 4 run (Knebel run).
Tou - Hines 25 pass from E. Martinez (pass failed).
Tou - J. Martinez 9 run (pass failed).
Pom - Knebel 2 run (run failed).
Tou - Flores 21 pass from E. Martinez (J. Martinez run).
Pom - Smith 2 run (pass failed).
Tou - Flores 5 pass from E. Martinez (J. Martinez run).
Pom - Smith 22 run (run failed).
Tou - Hines 1 pass from E. Martinez (run failed).
First downs 22 12
Rushes/yards 66-457 28-168
Passing yards 44 106
Passes (att-comp-int) 2-2-0 16-73
Punts 0-0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 6-45 3-20
RUSHING - Pomeroy: Reisdorph 21-104, Knebel 20-108, Smith 25-245, FitzGerald 1-9; Touchet: J. Martinez 11-62, Flores 6-50, E. Martinez 9-64, Preciado 1-(-12), Hines 1-22.
PASSING - Pomeroy: Smith 2-2-0, 44 yards. Touchet: E. Martinez 7-16-3, 106 yards, 4 touchdowns.
RECEIVING - Pomeroy: FitzGerald 1-36-0, Ruchert 1-8-0; Touchet: Hines 3-44-2, Preciado 1-14-0, Flores 2-46-2, J. Martinez 1-2-0.