As if his team’s 37-0 halftime lead was not enough reason to celebrate, Cox had one more reason to smile before the teams took the field for the second half.
Cox briefly encountered his brother, Private First Class John Stepleton, who was in town after completing basic training at Ft. Leonardwood, Mo.
“I hadn’t seen him in six months,” Cox said. “We had talked on the phone and written letters. It was a great surprise. A great victory. I’m very blessed.”
Stepleton will be stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in two weeks, Cox said.
WALLA WALLA — Quarterback Jeremiah Cox tossed five touchdown passes as DeSales built a 27-0 lead after one quarter and coasted to a 44-6 victory over Davenport in district crossover football action Friday night at Ty Baffney Field.
The Irish will likely play White Swan in the opening round of the Class 2B state playoffs which begin next weekend. White Swan eliminated DeSales from the 2011 postseason with a first-round win.
“We’ve had a year to dwell on that,” said Cox, who completed nine-of-15 passes for 196 yards. “We’re excited to get back at them. We’re excited to play White Swan.”
DeSales started all four of its first-quarter possessions on Friday on Davenport’s side of the 50-yard line.
The Irish marched 29 yards in six plays on their first series and were able to overcome a pass interference penalty that negated a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cox to Joe Duehn. Two plays after the misfortune, Cox hit Ryan Baumgart with a 23-yard scoring toss with 8:26 on the clock. Paul Elmenhurst followed with the PAT kick that made it 7-0.
Luke Fazzari, who rushed for 118 yards on 11 carries, scored on a 4-yard rush to end a four-play, 21-yard possession at the 6:03 mark, Cox hooked up with Duehn for a 46-yard pass and catch with 4:10 to go, and Andrew Elmenhurst grabbed a 43-yard pitch from Cox with 29 seconds remaining.
Kyler Pommerening set up the first two DeSales touchdowns with punt returns of 32 and 19 yards, respectively.
“Kyler does a nice job,” DeSales coach Mike Spiess said. “He’s shifty.”
The Irish defense gave up just 52 yards and one first down in the period. The Gorillas ended the night with 235 total yards.
“Our defense has been extremely consistent,” Spiess said. “Tonight was no different.”
Andrew Elmenhurst picked up his second touchdown of the game with 7:53 left in the second quarter. He took a pass in the left flat from Cox and turned it into a 29-yard scoring play after leaving three Davenport tacklers in his wake.
Paul Elmenhurst kicked a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give DeSales a 37-0 lead at intermission.
Pommerening caught a 24-yard pass from Cox just 1:54 into the third quarter to increase the Irish bulge to 44-0.
“We executed well offensively and were able to get a lot of kids involved,” Spiess said.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the running-clock rule was enforced due to the 40-point mercy rule.
“We weren’t too familiar with them,” Cox said. “We needed to worry about ourselves and run our stuff. It seemed we could do anything we wanted.”
Duehn led Irish receivers with four catches for 69 yards.
DeSales 44, Davenport 6
Davenport 0 0 0 6 — 6
DeSales 27 10 7 0 — 44
DeSales — Baumgart 23 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeSales — Fazzari 4 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeSales — Duehn 46 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeSales — A. Elmenhurst 43 pass from Cox (kick failed).
DeSales — A. Elmenhurst 29 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeSales — P. Elmenhurst 31 FG.
DeSales — Pommerening 24 pass from Cox (Healey kick).
Davenport — Mielke 3 run (run failed).
First downs 11 12
Rushes/yards 36-121 18-109
Passing yards 114 213
Passes (att-comp-int) 25-11-1 19-11-0
Punts 4-32.3 2-36
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 3-29 3-34
RUSHING — Davenport: Mielke 10-80, Faulkner 11-40, Hopkins 7-36, Team 1-3, Lilje 7-(-38); DeSales: Fazzari 11-118, Cox 3-3, Healey 3-(-1), Richard 1-(-11).
PASSING — Davenport: Lilje 11-25-1, 114 yards, ) TDs; DeSales: Cox 9-15-0, 196 yards, 5 TDs, Richard 2-4-0, 17 yards, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING — Davenport: Wilkie 3-42, Hopkins 3-23, Faulkner 3-7, Steadman 1-39, Mielke 1-3; DeSales: Duehn 4-69-1, A. Elmenhurst 2-72-2, Pommerening 2-32-1, Baumgart 1-23-1, Scheel 1-14, Roach 1-3.