The state championship hopes of the Reardan Indians disappeared along with their undefeated season in a November blizzard Friday night as Manson pulled off a 21-8 playoff upset at Reardan.
The Indians (9-1) were the Northeast B-11 champions and top-ranked in the most recent state poll. So much for polls - Manson came in as the No. 3 team from the Central Washington league, carrying an unremarkable 6-3 record into Friday’s game.
But the elements - snow, freezing temperatures and winds in the 20 mile-per-hour range - brought out a truly remarkable performance by the Trojans, who took the lead in the game’s first 4 minutes and played mistake-free football for four quarters.
That’s mistake-free as in no turnovers, and the Trojans had only a single mishandled snap on offense. Defensively, they held Reardan to six first downs, and except for an 80-yard kickoff return by Robb Soliday that led to the Indians’ only score, were never burned by the big play.
Reardan lost two fumbles, one on the game’s fourth offensive play at Manson’s 43, and three plays later junior tailback Heri Virrueta popped through the line for a 51-yard touchdown. He added the point-after for a 7-0 Manson lead.
The Indians had five possessions in the first half after that, and each of them ended inside the Manson 45 without any points. Reardan’s biggest first-half threat was stopped at the Manson 10 when Virrueta stuffed Indian halfback Travis Titchenal for a fourth-down loss.
Titchenal carried 25 times for 66 yards and Reardan’s only touchdown, a 1-yard run in the third period. The Indians were crippled by quarterback Nathan Graham’s first-quarter knee injury and ran from a single wing much of the way.
Graham sat out most of the first half, then made a courageous effort in the second, appearing in several series, although the weather and his bad leg prevented much offensive production until the last 2 minutes.
Virrueta rushed for nearly 1,100 yards during the regular season, and he added 112 on 22 carries Friday, scoring all three Manson touchdowns. He expanded Manson’s 7-0 halftime lead on a 3-yard scoring run in the third quarter on a drive keyed by quarterback Jeff England’s 28-yard bootleg.
Soliday’s long kickoff return followed that touchdown, and Titchenal carried on five of six plays to the end zone, then caught a two-point conversion pass from Graham to cut Manson’s lead to 13-8.
The Indians stopped the Trojans’ next two drives, but the football squirted from Graham’s hand as he attempted to pass midway in the fourth period, and Nic Hanson’s recovery at the Reardan 21 set the Trojans up for Virrueta’s third TD, a 1-yard plunge with 2:33 to play.”It’s a real tribute to our kids that they came out in this weather and played so well,” Manson coach Bill Sargent said after the victory. “There wasn’t a lot we could do, but we did it well.”
Manson 21, Reardan 8
Manson 7 0 6 8 - 21
Reardan 0 0 8 0 - 8
M-Virrueta 51 run (Virrueta kick)
M-Virrueta 3 run (kick failed)
R-Titchenal 1 run (Titchenal pass from Graham)
M-Virrueta 1 run (Soth pass from England)
Davenport 14, Waterville 6
The third-ranked Gorillas (9-1) blanked Waterville until the last minute of the game on a snow-covered field in Wenatchee.
Marty Parsons and Luke Hammond connected on a 27-yard scoring pass in the second period and Josh FitzPatrick plunged for a yard in the third. FitzPatrick rushed for 76 yards.
Davenport 0 6 8 0 -14
Waterville 0 0 0 6 - 6
D-Hammond 27 pass from Parsons (kick failed)
D-Fitzpatrick 1 run (Fitzpatrick run)
W-Neilson 24 pass (run failed)