WALLA WALLA — Take away Mabton’s onside kick recovery on the game’s opening kickoff and the Vikings’ recovery of a DeSales fumble on the first Irish offensive drive, and it was all Irish in non-conference football action Friday here at Ty Baffney Field.
DeSales preserved its No. 5 state ranking and ran its non-conference record to 3-0 with a 48-0 win over the Vikings.
“My No. 1 goal in the preseason was to improve our intensity level,” Irish coach Mike Spiess said. “And I wanted them to have fun in the game. In the big picture of our preseason, we’ve done that. This game, our guys kind of went through the motions a little bit. Their kids started to show that they were playing harder than us, and we responded to that.”
Mabton’s Nico Pina recovered the Vikings’ onside kick at the Irish 43 to open the game. The Irish defense, in what proved to be a recurring theme, stopped the Vikings on fourth down and the offense took over at the DeSales 36.
DeSales gave it back as Adrian Gutierrez recovered an Irish fumble on DeSales’ first offensive snap and the Vikings went to work at the Irish 34.
“All three of our games we’ve done that,” Spiess said of the Irish start. “Interception, interception, onside kick and fumble, but the good news is our kids respond well to the adversity. I wish they would quit creating it for themselves.”
The Irish got it together on their second possession. Quarterback Jeremiah Cox connected with Ryan Baumgart for 34 yards to the Mabton 37, Luke Fazzari ran for 17, and six plays later, Cox went in from the 1. Paul Elmenhurst, who kicked six of seven extra points, added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
The Cox-to-Baumgart combination took over in the second period. Kyler Pommerening squeezed in a 60-yard punt return between Cox-to-Baumgart scores.
Baumgart got the second period started with a 22-yard strike from Cox for a 14-0 Irish lead a minute in.
Pommerening added his romp and DeSales began its last possession of the half at its own 26 with 1:32 left.
Baumgart made a nine-yard catch. Baumgart made a one-handed grab of a ball thrown behind him for a 15-yard gain. Cox threw into double coverage from the Mabton 20, but Baumgart outwrestled two Viking defenders and came down in the end zone with 27 seconds left in the half.
DeSales, behind Baumgart’s six catches for 112 yards and two scores, went to intermission up 27-0.
“Ryan made some really nice catches,” Spiess said of the senior receiver. “The good news is he makes those great catches, but Jeremiah (Cox) looks for him a little more than he should. We need to clean up some spacing things in our passing game, and make better choices. But, Ryan is a pretty good choice.”
Cox capped a 48-yard, 10-play drive, with help from a 17-yard scamper from Fazzari, with a three-yard TD run and came back on the next Irish possession. Cox then broke off right guard and went 40 yards to put DeSales up 41-0 with 5:31 left in the third and invoke the running-clock rule that comes with a 40-point lead.
Then there was the Irish defense. The Tim Caudill, Matt Jubb, Connor Richard, Cody Josifek front line anchored a defense that pitched a shutout and only gave up 110 yards — 57 on the ground and 53 through the air — and the Vikings gained 36 of those yards, three rushing and 33 passing, in the fourth with the outcome long since settled.
“We’re coming to play on defense,” Spiess said. “We’ve been very solid up front.”
The Irish travel to Dayton Friday to open Southeast 2B Conference play.
“Dean Bickelhaupt (Dayton coach) always has his guys playing hard,” Spiess said. “It’s our first league game and we’ve got to help our kids understand that 3-0 is nice, but now we’re 0-0. Now, it’s for real.”
DeSales 48, Mabton 0
Mabton 0 0 0 0 — 0
DeSales 7 20 14 7 — 48
DeS — Cox 1 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Baumgart 22 pass from Cox (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Pommerening 60 punt return (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Baumgart 20 pass from Cox (kick blocked).
DeS — Cox 3 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Cox 40 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
DeS — Crowley 33 run (P. Elmenhurst kick).
First downs 6 13
Rushes/yards 33-57 21-130
Passing yards 53 206
Passes (att-comp-int) 18-7-2 21-14-0
Punts 2-32.5 0-00
Fumbles-lost 4-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 11-79 6-50
RUSHING — Mab: Martinez 5-17, Carassco 12-7, Zavala 2-3, Mireles 3-15, An. Gutierrez 3-3, Ad. Gutierrez 4-9, Pina 3-7, Team 1-(-4); DeS: Fazzari 12-59, Cox 3-44-3, Baumgart 1-(-2), Healey 3-1, Richard 1-(-5), Crowley 1-33-1.
PASSING — Mab: Martinez 0-8-2, 0 yards, Pina 6-9-0, 35 yards, Zavala 1-1-0, 18 yards; DeS: Cox 13-19-0, 178 yards, 2 TDs, Richard 1-2-0, 28 yards.
RECEIVING — Mab: Zavala 4-21, An. Gutierrez 2-17, Sanchez 1-15; DeS: Baumgart 7-122-2, Duehn 3-7, Pommerening 2-36, Koopman 1-9, Roach 1-32.