PASCO — Touchet overcame four first half turnovers and 30-6 deficit to defeat Rosalia 62-36 here Saturday night at Edgar Brown Stadium and earn its first trip to the gridiron classic since 2002.
Playing in the Class 1B 8-man semifinals for the first time since Gary Dorman took over as head coach in 2009, the Indians improved to 12-1 on the season and will face No. 1 Neah Bay Friday afternoon in the Tacoma Dome.
Neah Bay defeated Lummi, 46-14, in the other semifinal.
Senior quarterback Elias Martinez led the Indians’ dramatic comeback as he passed for five touchdowns and ran for another. Martinez finished the night by completing 8-of-12 passes for 203 yards.
Sophomore Carlos Rincon was on the receiving end of three of those completions, good for 113 yards, reaching the end zone all three times.
Senior Edgar Rincon, Carlos’s older brother, almost led the Indians in rushing with 79 yards on 11 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run.
Colter McKeown was the lead Touchet rusher by five yards with 84 on the ground on seven carries.
Edgar Rincon was also on the receiving end of a 24-yard Martinez touchdown throw while Carlos returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown.
Facing a Rosalia team which they had defeated 54-14 during the third week of the regular season in Rosalia, the Indians were anything but a confident crew early in the game.
After giving up a 71-yard touchdown run to Rosalia’s Craig Nelson barely a minute into the game, the Indians proceeded to fumble away the ball on their first three possessions.
The Spartans capitalized by forging an 18-0 lead before Touchet finally got on the scoreboard on a 35-yard Martinez touchdown pass to Carlos Rincon on the final play of the first quarter.
But Clay Shelton responded with a 84-yard touchdown run and Cory Brown intercepted Martinez and returned the pick 68 yards for a touchdown as Rosalia moved out to a 30-6 lead with 3:26 before halftime.
“I was beginning to wonder if we would ever stop putting the ball on the carpet,” Dorman said. “But I knew one thing, I knew these kids would not quit.”
They sure didn’t.
Martinez hit Colter McKeown with a 31-yard touchdown pass and Leo Garcia ran for two points to cut the Rosalia lead to 30-14 with 2:02 remaining before halftime.
Touchet then forced a punt, and Martinez ran 29 yards for a touchdown on the very next play to make it 30-20 at the half.
Other than an 80-yard touchdown run by Nelson in the third period, the second half belonged to the Indians.
Touchet took its first lead, 36-30, on a Martinez to Carlos Rincon 30-yard scoring pass, and they took the lead for good, 42-36, on a yet another Martinez pass to Carlos Rincon of 48 yards.
Nelson was Rosalia’s main offensive threat as he picked up 279 yards on 29 carries. Shelton added 133 more on just 10 attempts.
But it wasn’t nearly enough once Touchet quit turning the ball over and had the momentum.
Rosalia finished its season 9-3.
Touchet 62, Rosalia 36
Touchet 0 20 30 12 — 62
Rosalia 18 12 6 0 — 36
Ros — Nelson 71 run (run failed).
Ros — Shelton 1 run (run failed).
Ros — Shelton 36 run (run failed).
Ros — C. Rincon 35 pass from Martinez (pass failed).
Ros — Shelton 84 run (run failed).
Ros — Brown 68 pass interception return (run failed).
Tou — Col. McKeown 31 pass from Martinez (Garcia run).
Tou — Martinez 29 run (pass failed).
Tou — E. Rincon 24 pass from Martinez (Martinez run).
Tou — C. Rincon 30 pass from Martinez (Bulter pass from Martinez).
Ros — Nelson 80 run (run failed).
Tou — C. Rincon 48 pass from Martinez (run failed).
Tou — C. Rincon 85 pass interception return (Col. McKeown pass from Martinez).
Tou — E. Rincon 4 run (pass failed).
Tou — Col McKeown 41 run (run failed).
First downs 25 13
Rushing yards 44-322 43-397
Passing yards 203 97
Passes(passes-att-int) 12-8-2 18-7-3
Punts 0-0 4-120
Fumbles 5-4 0-0
Penalties 7-45 14-145
RUSHING — Touchet: E. Rincon 11-79, Goble 8-18, Velasquez 12-66, Col. McKeown 7-84, Martinez 5-30, Butler 1-45; Rosalia Shelton 10-133, Nelson 29 -271, Maley 4-(-7).
PASSING — Touchet: Martinez 8-12, 2 interceptions, 203 yards, 5 touchdowns; Rosalia: Maley 7-18, 3 interceptions 97 yards.
RECEIVING — Touchet : Col McKeown 2-42-1, C. Rincon 3-113-3, Goble 1-11, E. Rincon 1-24-1, Carson 1-13; Rosalia: Thornton 2-36, Nelson 4-56, Shelton 1-5.