WALLA WALLA — Weston-McEwen lost four fumbles, and DeSales two and an interception, here at Ty Baffney Field Friday in non-conference football action.
The Irish led 14-12 at the half, but scored 20 unanswered points to open the second half to post a 34-18 win over the TigerScots in W-M’s season opener.
“We’re a young team with a lot of kids having their first-time starts tonight,” TigerScot coach Kenzie Hansell said. “We made mistakes, but they are mistakes we can correct. Give it to DeSales, they are a great team.”
The turnover bug struck early as Irish quarterback Jeremiah Cox was picked off by the TigerScots’ Jacob Ramirez on the fifth play from scrimmage.
Ramirez’ 16-yard interception return set the TigerScots up at the Irish 41. Nine plays later, W-M quarterback Eric Washburn, in his first varsity start at QB, rolled right and found Zane Chapman for a 6-yard TD and W-M led 6-0 with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
“The Athena kids came out and played hard,” Irish coach Mike Spiess said. “Two games (an opening win at La Salle) in a row we’ve thrown an interception early. The kids don’t panic. You’re going to make mistakes, it’s how you choose to respond.”
Following the TigerScot score, the W-M defense forced an Irish punt. The punt was muffed and Reilly Roach recovered for the Irish at the TigerScot 16.
Cox connected with Ryan Baumgart for a 16-yard score, Paul Elmenhurst added the extra point, and DeSales had the lead for good at 7-6 with 2:19 left in the first.
On the ensuing TigerScot possession, Luke Fazzari pounced on a bad W-M pitch as DeSales got the ball back. Cox broke a 68-yard run through the middle and the Irish led 14-6 with 11:02 left in the half.
W-M answered. Washburn hit Chapman down the middle for a 65-yard TD and the TigerScots were within 14-12 with 10:43 to play in the second.
The TigerScots stopped DeSales on the W-M 28 and took over with 6:59 left in the half. A 21-yard completion from Washburn to Tyler Peterson highlighted a W-M drive that landed W-M three yards away from taking the lead with 16 seconds left. W-M got to the goal line, but the ball came out and Jackson Kent recovered for the Irish in the end zone to preserve a 14-12 lead at intermission.
“We ended up turning the ball over in the end zone,” Hansell said. “It is a momentum game. A few mistakes here and there makes it (the momentum).”
“It was a very ragged first half,” Spiess said. “They played like it was their first game and we played like it was our first game. I was disappointed in our mental effort at the start of the game. The kids were disappointed in themselves. Their strength is that they are big up front and we didn’t execute very well.”
Tim Caudill recorded a sack on a W-M third-and-9 on the first TigerScot possession of the second half. DeSales took over on downs at their own 45.
W-M’s Nick Pease sacked Cox, who lost his helmet on the play, for a six-yard loss, but a Connor Richard-to-Baumgart five-yard pass and a personal-foul penalty, one of 12 W-M penalties for 90 yards, got the yardage back. Cox finished the drive with a 12-yard scoring strike to Roach. Pease blocked the point-after attempt, and the Irish settled for a 20-12 lead with 5:33 left in the third.
The Irish got their fourth fumble recovery on the next W-M possession. Cody Josifek hit Washburn as he was about to throw, and Caudill fell on the loose ball at the TigerScot 27.
Cox hit Andrew Elmenhurst with a 25-yard scoring pass as DeSales went to the fourth up 27-12.
DeSales drove to the W-M 3 to open the fourth, but T.J. Simpson recovered an Irish fumble to stop the threat.
Cox added a 46-yard catch and run by Andrew Elmenhurst before W-M responded.
Linton McAllister streaked down the near sideline and ran by the Irish defense with 3:23 left. Washburn hit him in stride for a 60-yard score, but it was too little, too late for the TigerScots as DeSales improved to 2-0 with the 34-18 win.
Ramirez led the TigerScot rushers with 75 yards. Washburn finished 6-of-8 passing for 174 yards and three TDs. The seven fumbles, with four lost, proved too much to overcome as W-M dropped to 0-1 and will host Waitsburg-Prescott Thursday.
“Overall, we need to get better and that’s where you’re at after the first game,” Hansell said. “We didn’t get the win, but we gained a lot from this game. We’ll get better from here. We’re looking forward to playing a good Waitsburg team.”
The Irish improve to 2-0 and host Mabton Friday in a non-league battle.
“Our defense and their mistakes kept us in it,” Spiess concluded. “We simplified some things in the second half and (finally) settled in.”
DeSales 34, Weston-McEwen 18
W-M 6 6 0 6 — 18
DeSales 7 7 13 7 — 34
W-M — Chapman 6 pass from Washburn (run failed).
DeS — Baumgart 16 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Cox 68 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
W-M — Chapman 65 pass from Washburn (pass failed).
DeS — Roach 12 pass from Cox (kick blocked).
DeS — A. Elmenhurst 25 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — A. Elmenhurst 46 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
W-M — McAllister 60 pass from Washburn (pass failed).
First downs 8 9
Rushes/yards 42-84 25-140
Passing yards 174 154
Passes (att-comp-int) 8-6-0 20-12-1
Punts 3-27.0 1-36.0
Fumbles-lost 7-4 5-2
Penalties-yards 12-90 4-40
RUSHING — W-M: Ramirez 19-75, Peterson 12-39, Washburn 7-(-6), Chapman 1-(-7), Team 3-(-17); DeS: Fazzari 19-75, Cox 3-68, Baumgart 1-4, Team 2-(-7).
PASSING — W-M: Washburn 6-8-0 174 yards 3 TDs; DeS: Cox 11-19-1 149 yards 4 TDs, Richard 1-1-0 5 yards.
RECEIVING — W-M: Chapman 2-71-2, Ramirez 1-10, Peterson 2-33, McAllister 1-60-1; DeS: Roach 2-15-1, Pommerening 1-13, Scheel 2-4, Baumgart 4-43-1, A. Elmenhurst 2-71-2, Koopman 1-8.