WALLA WALLA — Waitsburg-Prescott led Tri-Cities Prep 7-6 at intermission, but W-P put up 27 second-half points here in Southeast 2B football action to cap senior night and pull out a 34-14 win.
“The second half was ours,” W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. “It was senior night and the seniors deserved it (the win). They all wanted it pretty bad. It was either first or fourth, because if we would’ve lost, we would’ve been fourth (seed). This gets us in a great spot for the playoffs.”
The win gives W-P the No. 1 seed to the state play-in game with District 7.
W-P finishes SE2B play at 4-1, as did Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia and DeSales.
W-P held the tiebreaker and thus the No. 1 seed.
W-P hosts Springdale at 6 p.m. Friday for a berth in the state 2B football playoffs.
W-P forced a three-and-out on the initial Jaguar possession. Dalton Estes returned the punt 47 yards for a score, but it was called back on a running-into-the-kicker penalty — the first of nine W-P penalties for 75 yards.
Nate Bartlow fell on a Jaguar fumble at the W-P 25 to stop a T-C Prep scoring threat, but W-P fumbled the ball back as the first quarter ended in a scoreless deadlock.
From the W-P 25, T-C Prep scored in five plays as Jaguar quarterback Evan Whitsett took it the last 14, but Nate Bartlow blocked the extra point and T-C Prep led 6-0 with 10:14 left in the half.
Roy Ebong returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the T-C Prep 44.
Quarterback Stirling Eastman converted a fourth-and-7 from the T-C Prep 41 with a 27-yard completion to a leaping Chance Leroue, who took a hit but held on for a W-P first down.
“That was fourth down and we went for it,” coach Bartlow said. “Chance made a huge catch. That was a big one as it was on a touchdown drive.”
Estes finished the drive with a 10-yard TD run, and added the extra point for a 7-6 W-P lead.
Ebong picked off a Jaguar pass at his own 5 with 2:15 left to preserve the 7-6 W-P lead at intermission.
“In the first half, we didn’t have our heads screwed on tight,” quarterback Eastman said. “Toward the end of the second quarter, we started throwing and it helped our momentum carry over to the second half.”
“We couldn’t stop the run,” coach Bartlow said of the W-P first half. “I started to blitz on every down. We tried just about everything. They doubled teamed those D-tackles and got the ball moving. Our linebackers had to step up.”
W-P responded with a 68-yard, five-play scoring drive to open the second half. Eastman hit James Tompkins for 16 yards on the first second-half snap, and Estes broke a 47-yard scoring run on the fifth snap for a 14-6 W-P lead.
On W-P’s next possession, Eastman connected with Estes for 18 on a shuffle pass, with Ebong for 16, and with Leroue for 11, and went the last yard for a 21-6 lead with 4:35 left in the third.
“Sterling had a good second half,” coach Bartlow said. “He threw the ball timely and made plays.
“We moved Chance Leroue from D-end to linebacker,” coach Bartlow said of second-half adjustments. “He had a huge second half. He was all over the field. That adjustment really helped us. Our third quarter has been our best quarter. And it was again tonight.”
T-C Prep got within 21-14 following a 2-point conversion after Mateo Ledesma’s six-yard TD run with 9:31 left in the game.
W-P went to what was working as Estes took a pitch on an option play and scooted 28 yards down the near sideline to put W-P back up by two touchdowns at 28-14 with 6:09 left.
“The option was working because their ends and linebackers were too aggressive,” Eastman said. “We beat them to the outside when we got the right reads going. I have to carry out my options and suffer the consequences (getting hit).”
W-P sealed the deal with 2:36 left when Estes took a swing pass from Eastman and raced 80 yards to cap the win.
Eastman was 9-for-9 passing in the second half for 172 yards and finished with a 16-of-19 performance for 258 yards.
Estes ran 16 times for 149 yards, scored on runs of 10, 47 and 28 yards, and completed his night with the 80-yard catch-and-run for a score.
“I can’t imagine being that talented,” Eastman said of Estes. “Every aspect of his football performance, he’s just blessed.”
W-P hosts Springdale in its first step in its defense of its 2011 state 2B title.
“We’re motivated,” Eastman said. “We haven’t had our best game yet. It’s going to happen in the playoffs. We’ve got big plans and we’re going to get it done.”
Waitsburg-Prescott 34, Tri-Cities Prep 14
TCP 0 6 0 8 — 14
W-P 0 7 14 13 — 34
TCP — Whitsett 14 run (kick blocked).
W-P — Estes 10 run (Estes kick).
W-P — Estes 47 run (Estes kick).
W-P — Eastman 1 run (Estes kick).
TCP — Ledesma 6 run (Guajardo pass from Whitsett)
W-P — Estes 28 run (Estes kick).
W-P — Estes 80 pass from Eastman (kick failed).
First downs 15 12
Ruches/yards 50-168 31-146
Passing yards 59 258
Passes (att-comp-int) 12-5-2 19-16-0
Punts 2-32.0 0-00.0
Fumbles-lost 4-1 6-3
Penalties-yards 2-15 9-75
RUSHING — TCP: Rudolph 16-72, Ledesma 26-99-1, Whitsett 5-25-1, Forbes 1-(-5), Team 2-(-23); W-P: Leroue 6-10, Estes 16-149-3, Eastman 7-0, Team 2-(-13).
PASSING — TCP: Whitsett 5-12-2, 59 yards; W-P: Eastman 16-19-0, 258 yards, 1 TD.
RECEIVING — TCP: Ledesma 1-5, Cole 1-10, Guajardo 2-32, Pedersen 1-12; W-P: Stevens 3-28, Ebong 5-56, Estes 4-99-1, Leroue 2-38, Tompkins 2-37.