PALOUSE, Wash. — Touchet, Colton and Liberty Christian continued to move in lock step Friday while Sunnyside Christian took a step back during Week 5 of Southeast 1B football play.
The four schools entered the weekend tied atop the league standings with identical 3-1 records, and the Indians, Wildcats and Knights emerged as a triumvirate of co-leaders after chalking up important victories.
The Indians traveled to Garfield-Palouse and turned back the Vikings 36-14. The Patriots journeyed to Pomeroy and outlasted the Pirates 42-28. And in the key matchup of the weekend, the Wildcats entertained the Knights and knocked them out of their share of first place with a 34-17 victory.
Sunnyside Christian is now all alone in fourth place at 3-2, with Pomeroy and Gar-Pal sharing the next rung with 2-3 marks. The top four teams qualify for postseason.
Touchet is at home for its final two games but faces a pair of potential threats. Pomeroy invades the Indians’ field Friday with Sunnyside Christian to follow.
“We have two very tough games coming up,” Indians coach Gary Dorman assessed. “We just feel fortunate to get out of Garfield-Palouse with a victory. We stayed healthy and we got the chance to work on some things that we can’t get done in practice.”
Friday’s game was unusual in that Touchet ran just three offensive plays in the first quarter, then erupted for 20 points in the second period and 16 more in the third.
“We kicked off to begin the game and Gar-Pal marched nearly the length of the field,” Dorman said. “We finally stopped them and got the ball with about two minutes to go in the quarter.”
Three plays later the Indians punted the ball back to the Vikings.
“We ran three plays and lost yardage,” Dorman said. “For a coach, that’s a little nerve-racking. Fortunately, we stopped them a little quicker the next time and then put some points on the board.”
Senior quarterback Elias Martinez scored Touchet’s first two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 24 yards, and his 14-yard pass to Colter McKeown accounted for the third and a 20-0 halftime lead.
Cesar Velasquez scored on a 7-yard run and Colton Goble on a 2-yard plunge in the third period. Goble’s TD came moments after he blocked a Gar-Pal punt — his second blocked punt in as many games — and Ruben Butler recovered on the 2-yard line. Butler also recovered Goble’s earlier block.
“He’s so quick off the line of scrimmage,” Dorman said of Goble. “He just about took the ball off the punter’s hands he got in there so quick.”
Gar-Pal drove for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Kevin Knauff scoring both of them on runs of 3 and 4 yards.
“I don’t know if we got complacent or not,” Dorman said. “We had two fumbles in the fourth quarter and lost one of them, and we almost didn’t cover an onside kick. And we were three-and-out two or three times.
“We finally got a stop on defense and secured the win. But as a coach you never really feel secure in eight-man football because things can turn around in a hurry.”
Edgar Rincon led Touchet’s balanced rushing attack with 81 yards on 10 carries. Colter McKeown picked up 64 on just four rushes and Martinez and Goble combined for 73 yards on 18 tries.
Knauff was the game’s top rusher with 153 yards on 32 carries.
The Indians showed little interest in the passing game as Martinez completed 1-of-2 throws for 14 yards and the TD to Velasquez. Vikings QB Hunter Woltering was 7-for-22 for 79 yards, four of them in the direction of Tyler Thurman, who picked up 61 yards.
“Gar-Pal is a pretty good team,” Dorman concluded, hopeful, perhaps, that the Vikings can do some damage when they face Sunnyside Christian Friday night in Sunnyside.
Touchet 36, Gar-Pal 14
Touchet 0 20 16 0 — 36
Gar-pal 0 0 0 14 — 14
Tou — Martinez 2 run (pass failed).
Tou — Martinez 24 run (Carson pass from Martinez).
Tou — Col. McKeown 14 pass from Martinez (run failed).
Tou — Velasquez 7 run (Velasquez run).
Tou — Goble 2 run (E. Rincon run).
G-P — Knauff 3 run (Thurman pass from Woltering).
G-P — Knauff 4 run (run failed).
First downs 13 15
Rushes/yards 36-248 48-186
Passing yards 13 79
Passes (att-comp-int) 2-1--0 22-7-0
Punts 3-43 3-18
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 0-0
RUSHING — Touchet: E. Rincon 10-81, Col. McKeown 4-64, Martinez 6-37, Goble 12-36, R. Butler 3-23, Velasquez 1-7; Gar-Pal: Knauff 32-153, Thurman 9-34, Woltering 7-(-1).
PASSING — Touchet: Martinez 1-2-0, 13 yards, 1 touchdown. Gar-Pal: Woltering 7-22-0, 79 yards.
RECEIVING — Touchet: Col. McKeown 1-13-1; Gar-Pal: Thurman 40-61-0, Lopez 3-18-0.