WALLA WALLA - DeSales scored 26 unanswered points in the first half Friday at Ty Baffney Field in non-conference football action.
La Salle never recovered as the Irish went on to post a 39-7 win.
"I was pleased with how we came out of the gate," Irish coach Pat Graham said. "I thought our kids were prepared and focused. I was real pleased with our execution early."
La Salle and DeSales exchanged punts on their first possession, and the Irish took over at their own 30 on its second possession.
Nick Wales, in his first start at running back, ran for six yards.
Quarterback Jeremy Cox hit Ryan Baumgart for 14 more, and Wales took a pitch from Cox on the option and scooted for 13 more yards.
Following an incompletion, the Irish went back to the option, and this time Cox faked the pitch and turned up field for a 37-yard touchdown scamper.
Arturo Martinez added the extra point and the Irish took the lead for good at 7-0 with 4:36 left in the first.
It only got worse for the Lightning. A Cox-to-Baumgart 27-yard pass play highlighted a drive to the Lightning 5. Cox fumbled a snap in the shotgun, but picked it up to scoot five yards for his second rushing TD to cap the 58-yard Irish march and run the score to 13-0 with 9:55 left in the half.
DeSales started its next possession at its own 22. Freshman Andrew Elmenhurst made two catches for 13 yards and the Irish marched 78 yards in 13 plays, capped by a Baumgart over-the-shoulder grab of a Cox 21-yard scoring pass for a 20-0 Irish lead with 1:58 left in the half.
A Matt Brusic-to-Nick Chambard 36-yard pass play got the Lightning to the Irish 35, but Baumgart picked Brusic at his own 15 and, following a late-hit penalty on the Lightning, set the Irish up. Cox connected with Joe Duehn for 19 yards to move the Irish closer and Wales finished the drive with a five-yard run to send DeSales to intermission up 26-0.
"In the second quarter, we were able to control the line of scrimmage," Graham said. "They had to go to some things offensively that they weren't really comfortable with. They are primarily a running team and they got away from that, and went to the pass. They got out of their rhythm and we were able to hit a couple of big plays and take that big halftime lead."
La Salle had some shots in the first half, but the Irish defense rose to the occasion. Cody Josefik stopped Kevin Smith for a loss of one on third-and-four at the Irish 40 to slow La Salle's second drive of the game. Wales ended that drive with a stop of Josue Mendoza for a loss of four yards on a fourth-and-14 at the Irish 38.
On La Salle's first drive of the second quarter, Mat Zimmerman was the first to reach quarterback Smith as the Irish defense recorded a sack to turn away the Lightning at the Irish 20. Then Baumgart's pick at his own 15 ended the last Lightning threat of the first half.
"Our defense stiffened up down there in the red zone," Graham said. "That's what you want. The defense gave up a few plays but we were able to come up with the big plays when we needed them."
Cox hit Duehn for a 10-yard score for the only points of the third period as the Irish ran the lead to 32-0 after three.
La Salle got on the board with 9:43 left in the fourth as Kyler Robinett, who ran for 101 yards on the night, scampered up the middle for 21 yards and La Salle was on the board and finally had some momentum.
On the next Irish possession, the Lightning broke through and sacked Cox for a loss of 13 yards, back to the Irish 12. Graham called time and met with his team.
"Fatigue started to set in," Graham said of his timeout. "We started to get too comfortable in that fourth quarter. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, turned around and got the ball, and had a couple of breakdowns on offense. I went out there to refocus them and tell them that we needed to finish the game. And they responded. When you need a play, you go to your playmaker."
And the Irish did. Cox found Baumgart, who won a jump ball with a Lightning defender for a 30-yard gain, and the Irish were out of the hole, and the Lightning rally was nixed.
Fazzari added a late 27-yard TD to cap the scoring and run the final to 39-7.
Wales finished with 67 rushing yards. Cox threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more. Baumgart caught five passes for 110 yards and one score.
The Irish move to 1-0 and travel to Colfax to meet the two-time Class 2B runner-ups Friday.
"We've got a tough one with Colfax," Graham said. "We'll find out where we are at next week."
DeSales 39, La Salle 7
La Salle 0 0 0 7 - 7
DeSales 7 19 6 7 - 39
DeS - Cox 37 run (Martinez kick).
DeS - Cox 5 run (kick failed).
DeS - Baumgart 21 pass from Cox (Martinez kick).
DeS - Wales 5 run (kick failed).
DeS - Duehn 10 pass from Cox (kick failed).
LaS - Robinett 21 run (Vargas kick)
DeS - Fazzari 27 run (Martinez kick).
First downs 13 15
Rushes/yards 39-196 32-186
Passing yards 113 214
Passes (att-comp-int) 21-7-3 26-17-0
Punts 2-31.5 3-39.7
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 10-77 7-55
RUSHING - LaS: Woodard 13-45, Robinett 12-101, Lighty 3-5, Smith 5-23, Mendoza 1-(-1), Vargas 3-31, Team 2-(-8); DeS: Wales 14-67, Cox 7-65, Fazzari 9-69, Team 2-(-15).
PASSING - LaS: Smith 6-13-1 77 yards, Bruise 1-8-2 36 yards; DeS: Cox 17-26-0 214 yards 2 TDs.
RECEIVING - LaS: Mendoza 1-32, Chambard 4-64, Sutton 2-17; DeS: Baumgart 5-110-1, Elmenhurst 3-27, Duehn 5-50-1, Fazzari 1-6, Wales 1-10, Galloway 2-11.