SPOKANE — Well, so much for the hype.
What was expected to be a high-scoring offensive showdown here Saturday afternoon at West Valley High School was anything but.
Instead, Touchet (11-1) turned up its defensive intensity one more notch and needed every ounce of it to defeat Wilbur-Creston, 36-14, in a Class 1B quarterfinal game.
Nevermind the final score.
“Those were 36 hard-earned points,” Indians coach Gary Dorman said. “That’s the toughest 36 points our kids have scored in a long, long time.”
“Touchet’s defense was super tough,” Wildcats coach Darin Reppe countered. “We expected that, but they were even tougher than we thought.
“We thought with our size and physical edge, we could wear them down. That was not the case.”
The Indians finished the night with 138 yards rushing on 42 attempts and another 118 yards passing. The Wildcats garnered 146 yards on the ground and 84 via the pass.
But both teams moved in fits and starts.
Twelve of Touchet’s running plays went for negative yards. Wilbur-Creston lost yardage on four attempts rushing the ball and on three of quarterback Trystan Rosman’s six pass completions.
“We would have been happy to bend and not break,” Dorman said of his team’s defensive hopes. “We exceeded my expectations.”
Like so many games, especially this time of year, turnovers proved to be the difference. The Indians intercepted Rosman twice in the first half and also recovered a crucial Wildcat fumble to forge a 22-8 lead at the intermission.
“We lost the turnover battle,” Reppe said. “That can’t happen this time of year.”
Ruben Butler came up with Touchet’s first interception and returned it 15 yards for the game’s first score and a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
W-C responded however putting together a seven-play, 52-yard scoring drive in which the Wildcats took advantage of two costly Touchet penalties — a 5-yard offsides call on fourth down and two and a 15-yard pass interference.
Alex Putman scored the TD on a 4-yard run and Mason Copeland ran the 2-point conversion as W-C assumed what would be its only lead of the night, 8-6, with just 3:57 remaining in the second quarter.
Then it got interesting.
Cesar Velasquez returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the W-C 8-yard line. Four plays later, Colter McKeown scored on a 2-yard plunge and also converted the 2-pointer for a 14-8 Touchet lead with 1:44 remaining in the first half.
W-C gained one first down on its next possession before Putman fumbled and Velasquez recovered for the Indians on the Wildcat 45 with one minute left.
Elias Martinez completed a 34-yard pass to Colton Goble and then an 11-yard TD pass to Edgar Rincon as the Indians hiked their lead to 22-8 at the half.
Martinez, the Indians’ senior quarterback, struck again late in the third quarter with a 5-yard TD toss to Carlos Rincon, and the same duo hooked up for the 2-pointer.
W-C kept its fading hopes alive as Rosman and Copeland converted a screen pass into an 83-yard touchdown.
But the Indians nailed down the victory on their next possession as Edgar Rincon ran 38 yards up the middle for a touchdown with 6:21 to play.
Martinez led Touchet with 73 yards rushing on 15 carries and he completed 4-of-9 passes for 118 yards and two scores.
Copeland ran 17 times for 124 yards to lead all rushers.
“Touchet is a veteran team and they played like it,” Reppe said. “This was our first playoff game in a long time and it took us the better part of the first quarter just to get our feet under us.
“Touchet was the better team tonight, plain and simple.”
Wilbur-Preston finished its season 10-2.
The Indians move on to play Rosalia in next week’s semifinals, ending a string of two consecutive defeats in the quarterfinal round. Rosalia defeated Colton/Pullman Christian 70-32 on Friday.
“I’m thrilled,” Dorman said of the prospect of his first trip to the semifinals as the head coach. “I’ve been there many times as an assistant coach but this is different. This is fun.”
Touchet 36, Wilbur-Creston 14
Tou 6 16 8 6 — 36
W-C 0 8 0 6 — 14
Tou — R. Butler 15 pass interception return (run failed)
W-C — Putman 4 run (Copeland run)
Tou — Col. McKeown 2 run (Col. McKeown run)
Tou — E. Rincon 11 pass from Martinez (Martinez pass from Col. McKeown)
Tou — C. Rincon 5 pass from Martinez (C. Rincon pass from Martinez)
W-C — Copeland 83 pass from Rosman (run failed)
Tou — E. Rincon 38 run (run failed)
First downs 9 9
Rushes 42-138 38-146
Passing yards 118 84
Passes (Att 9-4-0 15-6-2
Punts 3-36 2-31
Fumbles 2-0 2-1
Penalties 4-35 7-62
RUSHING — Tou: E. Rincon 9-29. Goble 5-3. Martinez 15-73. Col. McKeown 8-19. Velasquez 5-14; W-C: Copeland 17-124. Putman 6-0. Rosman 7-8. Anderson 5-11. Tesch 2-3.
PASSING — Tou: Martinez 4-9-0 118 yards 2 TDs; W-C: Rosman 6-15-3 84 yards 1 TD.
RECEIVING — Tou: Butler 1-68-0. Goble 1-34-0. E. Rincon 1-11-1. C. Rincon 1-5-1; W-C: Copeland 3-99-1. Putman 2-(-12)-0. Renken 1-(-3)-0.