Pat Stiffer quarterbacked the Cheney Blackhawks to three touchdowns during their 25-12 victory over East Valley in an early Frontier League showdown Friday night in Cheney.
But it was his play on defense that struck down the Knights like a lightning bolt.
Lightning, it seemed, struck twice in a 14-second span culminating in Stiffler’s game-breaking 28-yard interception return with 9:06 remaining in the game.
The Blackhawks had just scored at the 9:20 mark on Matt Fox’s 10-yard run to take a 19-12 lead.
Knights quarterback Kris Allen forced a pass into coverage. Good center fielder that he is, Stiffler somehow found the ball in a tangle of bodies and raced untouched for the score.
“The biggest play was Pat picking the ball,” said Cheney coach Tom Oswald. “You’ve seen him play enough baseball to know he’s a pretty good athlete.”
The game between preseason Frontier favorites was a matchup of look-alike offenses. In the second half, Cheney out-wing T’d EV.
Trailing 12-6, the Blackhawks pounded away at EV’s line with its running back tandem of Pat Laughlin and Fox.
Between them they carried the football 29 times for 157 second-half yards. Laughlin’s second touchdown tied the game in the third quarter.
“There were some holes in there,” said Oswald. “The line blocked well.”
Nick Reynolds’ kick, making it 13-12, was the only success on a night of point-after misadventures.
Laughlin had carried the ball seven times on an eight-play drive. The only other play was a 26-yard toss from Stiffler to James Kiger.
Laughlin also had five carries and caught a pass for 11 yards on Cheney’s nifty bootleg misdirection pass to set up Fox’s TD.
It was that passing play by Stiffler to Fox and another to Jeremy Parker, and a couple wingback reverses by Joel Warren that set up Laughlin’s initial touchdown in the first half.
Laughlin ended with 20 carries for 97 yards and Fox had 20 for 96 for the game, helping Cheney keep East Valley’s defense on the field most of the second half.
“We’ve played pretty hard for four weeks,” said Oswald of his Blackhawks (2-2, 1-0). “We made some plays tonight.”
The two teams combined for three touchdowns in 6 minutes late in the second quarter.
EV (0-1, 2-2) scored first with 7:36 to go following a 54-yard drive. After Cheney ground back to tie things 4-1/2 minutes later, the Knights quickly regained the lead with 1:33 left until intermission.
Adrian Likely, who scored first in the game, tore off a tackle-busting 38-yard run setting up Brad Crockett’s score two plays later. The Knights were ahead once more.
In the second half, however, East Valley managed just 61 yards of offense and scarcely had the ball.
There were numerous defensive standouts for Cheney, from Ty Tait to Romanus Chowdoroski.
But the key hit of the night may have been the one by Reynolds when he stopped Likely short on a third-and-1 late in the third quarter.
The Knights moved to Cheney’s 24-yard line following the final Blackhawks score only to wind up 19 yards back upfield.
Cheney 25, East Valley 12
East Valley 0 12 0 0 -12
Cheney 0 6 7 12 -25
E-Likely 1 run (kick failed) C-Laughlin 1 run (kick failed) E-Crockett 3 run (pass failed) C-Laughlin 6 run (Reynolds kick) C-Fox 10 run (kick failed) C-Stiffler 28 interception return (kick failed)
WV 20, Bonners Ferry 14
The Eagles second victory of the season began and ended with 30-yard defensive scores.
Lee Rottweiler ran 30 yards with a blocked punt following a scoreless first quarter.
Justin Demke ran back an interception 30 yards for the only touchdown of the second half.
WV and host Bonners Ferry had traded touchdowns in the second period for a 14-14 halftime tie.
Beau Winex scored both touchdowns for Bonners, on a run and a pass reception.
He also had a 90-yard run among 26 carries, but didn’t score.
WV’s Rick Collins rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries, and had the Eagles’ lone offensive score.
West Valley 0 14 6 0 -20
Bonners Ferry 0 14 0 0 -14
W-Rotweiler 30 block punt (Roberts kick) B-Winex 5 run (kick failed) W-Collins 1 run (Roberts kick) B-Winex 26 pass from Rice (Winex run) W-Demke 30 interception return (kick failed)
Lewiston 38, Clarkston 21
In the 100th installment of the River Rivalry, the Bengals held off the Bantams at Lewiston.
No. 1-ranked Lewiston improved to 4-0-1. Clarkston fell to 2-2.
Clarkston 0 7 0 14 -21
Lewiston 0 17 14 7 -38
C-Tucker 5 run (Norland kick) L-McCrery 85 kickoff return (Holder kick) L-Holder 22 field goal L-Steen 1 run (Holder kick) L-McCrery 20 run (Holder kick) L-Huwitt 35 pass from Pierce (Holder kick) L-McCrery 38 run (Holder kick) C-Lyden 1 run (Norland kick) C-Howell 4 run (Norland kick)
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo