TOUCHET — AJ Kieffer was a one-man wrecking crew here Saturday afternoon.
But one against four is hardly a fair fight, and that’s what it must have seemed like to Wellpinit’s 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior running back.
Kieffer was handed the ball 31 times during the first-round Class 1B playoff football game. He responded with 388 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
But that wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with Touchet’s versatile offensive show as the Indians rambled to a 76-36 victory over the visiting Redskins under steel-gray skies on a bone-chilling afternoon.
Junior quarterback Elias Martinez had the biggest day for the Touchet offense as he carried the ball 11 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns, and he added three pass completions for another 92 yards and a TD.
But Martinez was hardly a one-man band.
Senior fullback Jose Martinez garnered 104 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Senior wideout Vicente Flores picked up 63 yards rushing and a TD on just two carries, and he returned a kickoff for another Indians score. And senior running back Octavio Preciado chipped in with 51 yards rushing and one touchdown on five attempts, and he was on the receiving end of Elias Martinez’s TD pass.
That kind of balance, coupled with four Wellpinit turnovers, was simply way too much for Kieffer to overcome.
The victory sends Touchet on to the state’s 8-man quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. The Indians will take on Cusick, the class of the Northeast 1B League, next weekend in Spokane.
Cusick, which lost to Touchet 28-20 here one year ago in a first-round game, advanced to the quarters Friday night with a convincing 60-16 victory over Columbia-Hunters.
“We’re being told Cusick is a completely different team from last year,” Indians coach Gary Dorman said as he took a quick peek at next week’s opponent. “They run a lot of motion back and forth across the field, and they are very, very quick.”
For that reason alone, the Touchet coach will spend some extra time emphasizing tackling techniques this coming week in practice after the Indians’ inability to contain Kieffer on Saturday.
“We didn’t tackle worth beans,” Dorman said.
“At the same time, that was the best running back we’ve seen all season,” the coach said of Kieffer. “He was a lot better than what we thought we saw on game films. We were surprised at how strong he was and how good he was.”
It might have been an altogether different outcome had the Redskins not fumbled the ball away three times in the first half, including their first two possessions of the game.
“Getting those early turnovers, and being able to get touchdowns off them, that was huge,” Dorman said.
Flores converted the first fumble recovery into a 54-yard touchdown sprint down his left sideline on an end-around call. Elias Martinez hit Cori Ochoa for the two-pointer and the Indians were on their way.
Wellpinit lost its second fumble on its own 36-yard line. One incompletion and two 5-yard penalties later, Jose Martinez blasted for 26 yards and six points.
The Redskins tried to make a game of it on their next possession as they marched 80 yards on 14 plays for their first touchdown. Kieffer scored it on a 19-yard run and it was a one-possession game, 14-6, heading into the second quarter.
Preciado’s 39-yard touchdown run widened the gap. And following the Indians’ only fourth-down stop of the first half, Elias Martinez raced 45 yards on a QB option play as the home team extended its lead to 30-6.
Then came fumble No. 3 as Kieffer lost the ball on a kickoff return. Edgar Rincon covered the ball on the Wellpinit 15-yard line, and two plays later Elias Martinez skipped into the end zone from 11 yards out and the Indians were in complete control.
“Elias had quite a game,” Dorman said of his junior signal caller. “He just gets better and better.
“He’s so elusive. Trying to tackle him is a little bit like trying to tackle smoke.”
The Indians took a 44-14 lead into the locker room at halftime and got the ball to begin the third quarter. Jose Martinez’s 3-yard touchdown run and Preciado’s two-pointer boosted the lead to 52-14 and the game was never in doubt after that.
Touchet improved to 9-1 on the season. Wellpinit concluded its season at 8-2.
Touchet 76, Wellpinit 36
Wellpinit 6 8 16 6 — 36
Touchet 14 30 16 16 — 76
Tou — Fores 54 run (Ochoa pass from E. Martinez).
Tou — J. Martinez 26 run (pass failed).
Wel — Kieffer 19 run (run failed).
Tou — Preciado 39 run (E. Martinez run).
Tou — E. Martinez 45 run (Flores pass from E. Martinez).
Tou — E. Martinez 11 run (Ochoa pass from E. Martinez).
Wel — Kieffer 1 run (Ayala pass from Kieffer).
Tou — Preciado 41 pass from E. Martinez (run failed).
Tou — J. Martinez 3 run (Preciado run).
Wel — Kieffer 29 run (Kieffer run).
Tou — J. Martinez 22 run (Ochoa pass from E. Martinez).
Wel — Wynecoop 6 run (Kieffer run).
Tou — E. Martinez 39 run (Preciado run).
Wel — Kieffer 76 run (run failed).
Tou — Flores 66 kickoff return (Goble run).
First downs 27 21
Rushes/yards 51-449 33-377
Passing yards 78 117
Passes (att-comp-int) 7-4-0 20-7-1
Punts 0-0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 5-3 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-50 5-60
RUSHING — Wellpinit: Kieffer 31-388, Wynecoop 10-42, McCrea 9-15, Denison 1-4; Touchet: J. Martinez 15-104, E. Martinez 11-159, Flores 2-63, Preciado 5-51.
PASSING — Wellpinit: Wynecoop 4-9-0, 54 yards; Kieffer 3-11-1, 24 yards. Touchet: E. Martinez 3-6-0, 92 yards, 1 touchdown; Preciado 1-1-0, 25 yards.
RECEIVING — Wellpinit: McCrea 5-73-0, Wynecoop 1-(-4)-0, Ayala 1-9-0; Touchet: Ochoa 3-76-0, Preciado 1-41-1.