TOUCHET — It was homecoming in more ways than one here Friday afternoon.
Not only were Touchet High alums invited back for the school’s annual fall homecoming gathering, the Indians football team was playing on its home turf after four consecutive road games.
It was a big game, too, as the Indians, ranked third in the Washington Class 1B state poll, entertained No. 6-ranked Colton. And the home team prevailed 38-14.
“This kind of puts us in the driver’s seat as far as getting that No. 2 seed out of district,” Touchet coach Gary Dorman said, already looking ahead to possible postseason scenarios. “And the No. 2 team gets a home playoff game while the No. 3 team has to travel.”
The Indians improved to 2-1 in Southeast 1B-8 League games and 5-1 overall. The Wildcats slipped to 2-1 in league play and are 4-2 for the season.
Defending state champion Liberty Christian, which handed Touchet its lone defeat a couple of weeks ago, stands alone atop the league standings at 3-0 following Friday night’s 66-44 victory over Sunnyside Christian. The SSC Knights, who close out the regular season at Touchet on Nov. 7, are also 2-1 in league action and 4-1 overall.
Pomeroy, which improved to 2-1 in league games and 3-3 overall with a 50-8 victory over Lacrosse-Washtucna Friday, is also in the playoff mix. The Pirates have a Nov. 1 date at Touchet.
Garfield-Palouse finally broke into the win column Friday with a 62-12 victory over St. John-Endicott. The Nighthawks, who will host Touchet Oct. 25 in the Indians’ only remaining road game, are 1-2 in league and 1-4 overall while the Eagles’ records dipped to 0-3 and 2-3.
The Indians will be home again this coming Friday when L-W (0-3, 0-5) comes to town.
Friday’s victory over Colton was closer than the final score might indicate and turned Touchet’s way on a single play midway through the third quarter.
The Indians, after trailing 8-6 late in the second quarter, assumed a 14-8 halftime lead on senior quarterback Elias Martinez’s second touchdown of the half. Martinez, who scored on a 17-yard run in the first quarter, broke free on a 40-yard TD scamper and then hit Carlos Rincon for a two-point conversion with 2:50 remaining before the intermission.
The Wildcats threatened to regain the lead on their first possession of the second half when senior QB Jake Straughan connected with senior end Casey Jackson, who toted the ball 44 yards only to fumble on the Indians’ 1-yard line. Colton Goble forced the fumble and Rincon pounced on it.
Touchet running back Colter McKeown narrowly avoided a safety when he took a handoff in the end zone and barely squeezed out on the Indians’ first play following the fumble. On the next play, Martinez used good protection from his offensive lineman — plus some bobbing and weaving of his part — for what seemed like 10 seconds as he searched for an open receiver.
Finally, he flicked the ball to senior Cesar Velasquez, who was mostly covered by a Colton defender inside the 5-yard line. Velasquez tapped the ball into the air, gathered it in and raced 99 yards down his left sideline for a touchdown and a 22-8 Touchet lead following Martinez’s 2-point conversion run.
“That was a bit of a momentum changer,” Dorman understated. “They fumble going in and we run one play to get really close to the goal line to make the next play really impressive. But sometimes those things happen.
“According to Cesar, the pass was too high to catch,” he added. “He said he tried to tap it to himself and got a hand on it. He said, ‘I really don’t know how I ended up with it, but I am not complaining.’”
The Indians padded their lead to 30-8 early in the fourth quarter on another Martinez touchdown pass, this one 31 yards to Goble. And after Colton put up its second score on Straughan’s second touchdown pass, Martinez finished off the scoring with a 33-yard run as he figured in all five Touchet touchdowns.
Martinez led a balanced Touchet ground game with 108 yards rushing on 10 attempts, and he completed 2-of-3 pass for 130 yards and two scores. McKeown had 59 rushing yards, Goble 57 and Edgar Rincon 42. Velasquez rushed four times for 10 yards.
“We have four running backs, plus Martinez, who are all upperclassmen with really good speed and who run hard,” Dorman said. “If we can keep running fresh legs in on offense, that’s a huge advantage. Plus they all play on defense, so if they can get little breaks on offense, it pays a lot of benefits for us.”
Straughan put up 43 passes for Colton and completed 29 for 306 yards. He was intercepted once.
Six-foot-7 senior Dalton Patchen caught nine passes for 106 yards. Dillon Frank picked up 44 yards rushing on 14 carries.
“It was nice to be back home after four games in a row on the road,” Dorman said. “It was great to show the people who haven’t made it to the away games that Touchet has a pretty good football team.
“It’s maybe not the most talented team that we’ve had, but they give 150 percent on every play. I think people were pretty pleased with what they saw.”
Touchet 38, Colton 14
Colton 0 8 0 6 — 14
Touchet 6 8 8 16 — 38
Tou — Martinez 19 run (run failed).
Col — Frank 17 pass from Straughan (Patchen pass from Straughan)
Tou — Martinez 40 run (C. Rincon pass from Martinez).
Tou — Velasquez 99 pass from Martinez (Martinez run).
Tou — Goble 31 pass from Martinez (Martinez run).
Col — Kinzer 13 pass from Straughan (pass failed).
Tou — Martinez 33 run (McKeown run).
First downs 18 15
Rushes/yards 29-55 45-276
Passing yards 306 155
Passes (att-comp-int) 43-29-1 5-3-0
Punts 2-40 1-55
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-52 9-66
RUSHING — Colton: Straughan 15-11, Frank 14-44; Touchet: Goble 13-57, E. Rincon 9-42, Martinez 10-108, McKeown 9-59, Valazquez 4-10.
PASSING — Colton: Straughan 29-43-1, 306 yards, 2 touchdowns. Touchet: Martinez 2-3-0, 130 yards, 2 touchdowns; McKeown 1-2-0, 25 yards.
RECEIVING — Colton: Patchen 9-106-0, Druffel 4-48-0, Cas. Jackson 5-78-0, Frank 8-44-1, Kinger 3-25-1, Dahman 1-5-0; Touchet: Martinez 1-25-0, Velasquez 1-99-1, Goble 1-31-0.