Greg Conley had thrown one pass all night.
But, with his North Central Indians trailing Shadle Park by two points with 5 minutes left, the junior quarterback dropped back to pass from his 35-yard line.
Conley looked left and let fly. Jamie Tamura was covered but the ball was perfect. Tamura gathered it in at the Shadle 35, stepped out of a tackle and took it in.
From there the Indians went on top their North Side rival 24-14 in Greater Spokane League football play before 4,175 at Albi Stadium.
In the opener of Friday’s doubleheader, Ferris shut out Rogers 28-0, thanks to a second-half surge.
But the nightcap supplied the electricity.
“We believe in Greg Conley,” NC coach Jay Jordan said of his quarterback who started the year backing up a currently injured Jacob Aspenleiter. “We’re not afraid to throw the ball at the right time and in the right place. But we are a run-first team that likes to grind it and wear them down.”
The Indians (2-1, 1-1 in the GSL) did just that, rushing 41 times for 227 yards, including 176 in the second half. And, as usual, it was senior Derek Brown leading the charge. But it was the way he gained his 148 yards (on 16 carries) that inspired NC.
With Shadle Park (1-1, 1-1) leading 14-3 following Brian Kranches’ 5-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, Brown broke an 89-yard scoring run down the left sideline. From there Conley made his on-target throw and Aaron Robinson sealed it with a 17-yard touchdown run in the final 24 seconds.
But it was NC’s defense that stood out after Brown’s run, holding the potent Shadle offense to two fourth-quarter first downs.
“We talk defense a lot here,” Jordan said. “We want to be a complete football team, but we emphasis defense.”
That defense held returning GSL offensive player of the year Josh Powell to 16 of 35 passing for 157 yards and one interception, though he did team up enough with wideout Andy Largent (six catches, 60 yards; six rushes for 60 yards) to spark two long scoring drives.
But with tackles Kareem Clark (6-foot-2, 400-pounds) and Jarren Flikke (6-1, 235) clogging the inside gaps, inside linebackers Matt Gallagher and Josh Martin flew around and made tackles and forced turnovers (Shadle had three, NC one).
“It’s my job to hit anyone that comes inside,” an obviously exhausted Martin said. “We’ve wanted this for so long, I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
“This was a great high school football game because both teams played so hard,” Jordan said. “I don’t have to make speeches or pump up these kids, they get themselves excited. And they play as hard as they can.”
Ferris 28, Rogers 0
The Saxons (2-0, 2-0) played uninspired in the first half, according to coach Clarence Hough, and it showed.
Their only score was a 99-yard pass from Caleb Rath to Robert Davis, a score that came one play after the Pirates (0-3, 0-2) were intercepted at the goal line by Anthony Zachary after their best drive of the day.
Davis ran a streak down the right sideline and Rath hit him in stride at the 35, 5 yards behind the nearest defender. The footrace wasn’t close.
Davis finished with 121 yards on three receptions, while Rath was 8 of 18 for 190 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a 1-yard sneak for a third score.
“Rogers played excellent in the first half and, though technically weren’t too bad, we needed to play with more emotion,” Hough said.
They did in the third quarter, especially on defense.
Rogers finished with 160 yards in total offense, but only 47 of those after halftime. Rogers ran just 16 plays in the second half.
Eric Hernandez was the Pirates’ leading threat, rushing for 70 yards on 14 carries, with 20 yards after intermission.
The Saxons’ defense turned up the pressure, bringing linebackers Curtis Heyamoto, Mark Nyberg or Luke Sedler nearly every play.
And the offense got going, putting up 459 yards in total offense, including 93 yards rushing (on 10 carries) from reserve James Gross II, who also scored the Saxons’ final touchdown on a 19-yard run.