WALLA WALLA — What a difference two weeks makes.
DeSales used its bye week to get healthy and Andrew Elmenhurst, Isaiah Scheel and Jackson Kent returned at Ty Baffney Field on Friday in the fourth-annual Catholic Bowl football game.
The healthier Irish knocked Tri-Cities Prep from the unbeaten Southeast 2B ranks as DeSales won its fourth consecutive Holy Bowl with a 16-14 win.
“Little by little, we’re getting our pieces in place,” Irish coach Mike Spiess said. “Andrew was a surprise with the doctor clearing him to play. That was a nice lift for our kids.
“Every week has been like starting over (with all the injuries),” Spiess continued. “(Now) we’ll have a chance to start jelling.”
DeSales, behind a 36-yard gallop from Kaleo Healy, got as close as the Jaguar 29 in the first period, but T-C Prep’s Tristan Barnett fell on an Irish loose ball to kill the drive.
With 35 seconds left in the quarter, the Jaguars returned the favor when Connor Richard fell on an errant T-C Prep pitch at the Jaguar 24.
“That got us back in the game,” Richard said. “It gave us some momentum and good field position.”
Richard, the Irish quarterback, connected with Jarod Koopman for 14 yards to the T-C Prep 10 on the opening play of the second period. Following a false start, Richard hit Scheel for 11 yards to the Jaguar 4, and Healy took it in for a 7-0 Irish lead with 11:09 left in the half.
The Jaguars answered on their last possession of the half. Following a Luis Contreras 27-yard field goal try that went wide left, the Jaguars went 80 yards in 12 plays. Dane Pedersen floated a pass into traffic, but his brother, Bennett, pulled it in and stretched out to get the ball in the end zone for a 7-7 tie with 13 ticks left.
The Irish defense, led by Matt Jubb’s three stops for little or no gain, held the Jaguars to 61 yards of rushing offense in the first half after T-C Prep had run for 350 last week in a win over Dayton.
“The coaches prepared us a lot for the run game,” Irish defensive tackle Jubb said. “They gave us some opportunities at the tackles to make some big plays.”
The Irish opened the second half with a Richard-to-Scheel 44-yard bomb to the Jaguar 15.
“Coach Spiess told us we were going to go deep,” Richard said. “We found a seam and got a big play. That was a big morale booster for us.”
A Jaguar pass interference call moved the ball to the T-C Prep 6, and senior Braden Kimball returned to his running back spot to plunge in, Contreras’ extra point was blocked, and the Irish were up 13-7 with 10:45 left in the third.
Zach Leahy stopped the Jaguar’s second drive of the fourth quarter with an interception at his own 43 with 6:57 to play. Pass plays from Richard to Scheel for 21 yards and to Darryl Galloway for 16 moved the Irish to the T-C Prep 8. Contreras salvaged the drive with a 24-yard field goal, which proved to be the difference, as DeSales took a 16-7 lead with 2:01 left.
The Jaguars drove 62 yards in 1:33 as Michael Forbes punched it in from the 7 and T-C Prep was within 16-14 with 28 seconds left.
The ensuing onsides kick bounced out of bounds and Richard took a knee to give DeSales the 16-14 win and a 2-1 SE2B league record.
“I thought our biggest challenge would be the physical part as they were much bigger up front than we were,” Spiess said. “We stood up to them and stopped their running game.
“Physically, I was pleased with our effort, mentally (five fumbles and eight penalties) not so much,” Spiess added. “We’ve got to get past this young team and guys-hurt thing and toughen up mentally. (But) I liked the things we can do. They (T-C Prep) came in here 5-1. We competed very well against them.”
The Irish defense limited the Jaguars to 146 rushing yards, nine first downs, and 73 yards through the air.
“We saw Andrew (Elmenhurst) really hurt on the field and to just have him out here was a big morale boost,” Jubb said. “To have all those injured guys back was great. I think we’re looking pretty good now. Hopefully, we can continue getting better.”
Healy ran for 92 yards. Scheel caught four passes for 76 yards and Galloway caught six for 62.
Richard was 15-of-25 passing for 203 yards.
“The coaches had some good plans for us,” Richard said. “It was nice to get some of our receivers back. It took some pressure off Darryl. Our line played out of their minds. That was the most solid line play we have had all year.”
The Irish, 2-1 in league play, travel to Asotin Friday for a league match coming off a non-league loss to the Panthers two weeks ago.
“We have a lot of work to do to come out and beat Asotin,” Richard added. “They kind of embarrassed us. We need to get another league win.”
DeSales 16, Tri-Cities Prep 14
Tri-Cities Prep 0 7 0 7 — 14
DeSales 0 7 6 3 — 16
DeS — Healy 4 run (Contreras kick).
TCP — B. Pedersen 26 pass from D. Pedersen (Jones kick).
DeS — Kimball 6 run (kick blocked).
DeS — Contreras 24 FG.
TCP — Forbes 7 run (Jones kick).
First downs 9 14
Rushes/yards 37-146 32-128
Passing yards 73 203
Passes (att-comp-int) 13-5-1 25-15-0
Punts 4-36.8 2-29.5
Fumbles-lost 3-1 5-1
Penalties-yards 9-66 8-62
RUSHING — TCP: Cole 6-20, Rudolph 17-63, Forbes 5-29-1, D. Pedersen 7-49, Team 2-(-15); DeS: Richard 7-16, Healy 17-92-1, Galloway 3-21, Kimball 1-6-1, Scheel 1-1, Team 3-(-8).
PASSING — TCP: D. Pedersen 5-13-1, 73 yards, 1 TD; DeS: Richard 15-25-0, 203 yards, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING — TCP: Cole 1-9, Forbes 2-29, B. Pedersen 1-26-1, Jones 1-24; DeS: Kent 3-46, Koopman 1-14, Scheel 4-76, Galloway 6-62, Elmenhurst 1-5.