WAITSBURG — Waitsburg, on the strength of a blocked punt, went to intermission up 7-0 on Palouse here in Washington League semi-pro football action Saturday night.
The Elite found their air game to score 14 unanswered points in the third and went on to post a 28-7 win over the Thunder.
“We’re kind of a second half team right now,” Elite coach Brandon Tate said. “As long as we can rely on our D and keep the score low, we’ve got a chance to win every game.”
Waitsburg sacked Thunder quarterback Nikk Reinhardt four times in the first half, as Layton Brown recorded two and John Williams and Blake Schwarz added the others, to help blank the Thunder in the first half. The Thunder defense held the Elite air attack to only 58 yards over the first 30 minutes.
The Elite special teams came through as the Elite defense backed the Thunder to their own seven and forced a punt with 10:00 left in the half. The Elite blocked the punt, however, as the interior of the defensive line pushed through the Thunder blockers. Blake Schoenberg fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a Waitsburg score. Jesus Solis kicked the first of his four consecutive extra points and the Elite grabbed a 7-0 lead.
“We got good pressure on them and their own guy got blocked back into their punter,” Schoenberg said. “It (the ball) squirmed out to the outside and I saw it and had a clear run to it.”
The third quarter belonged to the Elite. The Thunder did not complete a pass (0-7), and Waitsburg picked off two passes. Brown’s pick with 11:54 to play in the third, led to a 14-yard TD pass from George Martinez to Trent Hetterley for a 14-0 Elite lead. On the ensuing Thunder possession, Schoenberg picked off a Reinhardt pass and the Elite found themselves at the 50. Martinez connected with Brandon Mitchell for a 10-yard score to cap the 50-yard drive and produce an insurmountable 21-0 Elite lead with 3:47 left in the quarter.
“We took a couple of quarters to key in on what they were trying to do,” Schoenberg said of the Elite defensive effort. “They did a lot of rolling out and throwing back across the field. Once we figured that out, we keyed on those types of plays. We got a couple of good interceptions that set up our offense.”
Martinez added a 72-yard catch and run by Ryne Eggers in the fourth and the Thunder scored on the last play of the game to run the final to 28-7.
Martinez threw for 248 yards, 190 of those hashes coming in the second half.
“We noticed they were bringing a lot of pressure (in the first half),” Tate said of the Thunder defense. “We thought we could get the quick slants and screens off before they could get through. They had more guys coming than we could block, so we knew someone had to be open.”
The Elite move to 2-0 on the season, 1-0 in Washington League play. Waitsburg hosts Wenatchee at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve avenged our two losses from last year,” Tate added. “Now we’re just going to keep moving forward and winning.”
Waitsburg 28, Palouse 7
Palouse 0 0 0 7 — 7
Waitsburg 0 7 14 7 — 28
Waits — Schoenberg blocked punt recovery in end zone (Solis kick).
Waits — Hetterley 14 pass from G. Martinez (Solis kick).
Waits — Mitchell 7 pass from G. Martinez (Solis kick).
Waits — Eggers 72 pass from G. Martinez (Solis kick).
Palouse — Rhoner 10 pass from Reinhardt (Burgland kick).
First downs 12 8
Rushes/yards 29-36 17-32
Passing yards 134 248
Passes (att-comp-int) 43-11-3 32-16-0
Punts 5-31.8 3-36.7
Fumbles-lost 4-1 6-5
Penalties-yards 7-32 6-43
RUSHING — Pal: Reinhardt 4-9, Team 5-(-33), Williams 8-37, Walton 7-16, Starrett 1-7; Waits: G. Martinez 3-9, Team 1-(-9), H. Martinez 5-11, Summers 6-9, Brown 1-15, Moore 1-(-3).
PASSING — Pal: Reinhardt 11-43-3 134 yards 1 TD; Waits: G. Martinez 15-31-0 248 yards 3 TDs, E. Martinez 1-1-0 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Pal: Rhoner 5-75-1, Bailon 1-7, Fuentes 1-15, Walton 2-20, Williams 2-17; Waits: Mitchell 7-72-1, Atkinson 2-35, Najera 4-41, Eggers 2-86-1, Hetterley 1-14-1.