A football game befitting unbeaten Greater Spokane League teams Ferris and Central Valley was filled with big plays on both sides of the ball.
The one most pivotal was reserved for a sophomore.
Saxons linebacker Grant Livingston met CV’s Tyler Simmet and the football almost simultaneously on a swing pass late in the third quarter, made the hit and took away the ball in one motion. A play later Ferris had its second touchdown in less than a minute, a 10-point lead and went on to a 27-23 win over the Bears.
The packed house Friday night at Central Valley was treated to a thrilling contest that had it all. From the first series when the Bears’ Greg Barnes simply leveled Aaron Roberts, separating him from the ball, until the end when the Saxons recovered an onside kick and quarterback Connor Halliday took a knee three times in the final 38 seconds, there was no quit on either side.
“Those are two very good high school teams,” said a relieved Ferris coach Jim Sharkey afterward. “(CV is) so much better up front than I thought and it took a lot of work just to inch out anything. And (Blake) Bledsoe is just a competitor beyond belief.”
CV quarterback Bledsoe, if he wasn’t connecting with receivers, was scrambling out of defenders’ grasps to pick up big yards.
But Ferris countered with Halliday, who passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns, got continued multiple contributions from Roberts, and a lift from junior running back Gage Orosco.
The defenses were equally up to the task, making stop after stop through a scoreless first quarter in which yards came grudgingly. In the end, two takeaways by the Saxons shifted the game in their favor.
“When you have two good teams, that’s what’s going to happen,” said Sharkey.
CV struck first in the second quarter on a 42-yard field goal by Blaze Vela, his eighth of the season. Then in the final 9 minutes of the period each team mounted an 80-yard scoring drive, Orosco setting up Ferris’ with a 34-yard run to the 5-yard line. Halliday, back in action after a two-week layoff with mononucleosis, completed three passes on the drive, including a TD strike to Garrett Saiki.
The Bears countered, Bledsoe with two 15-yard completions to Brad Whitley before scrambling 28 yards for a 10-6 lead at half.
In the third quarter, Roberts picked off a pass that led to Ferris’ go-ahead touchdown. Twice Halliday found Jason Bates, the second a laser between two defenders that wound up covering 33 yards.
“We had a dome route with Aaron and Jason over the top with a post,” Halliday said. “I was able to fit it in there.”
Shortly thereafter, Livingston came up with his big play.
“We watched film all week and knew the swing pass was one of their plays,” Livingston said. “I don’t know, he just sort of came into me and the ball popped out and we got it.”
Halliday hit Saiki again to make it 20-10.
But CV wasn’t done. In the fourth quarter, Bledsoe went to work again, passing for 52 yards, including an end-over-end desperation heave that Evander Cobbs caught one-handed for 23 yards down to the Saxons’ 18. Simmet made it 20-17.
Back came the Saxons, covering 80 yards again, Halliday rushing for 14 and throwing for 34. Roberts caught two passes for 2 yards and rushed for 13 out of a direct snap, scoring his second TD of the game with 1:45 left.
Undeterred, Bledsoe and Whitley produced a score in a little more than a minute to keep things suspenseful until the end.
Halliday said afterward that his biggest concern before the game was how the mono had affected his spleen.
“I got hit early in the game and that kind of took all the worries out of it,” he said.
With the win, Ferris (7-0 overall, 6-0 in league) is a victory away from the postseason. The Bears (6-1, 5-1) are tied with Gonzaga Prep for second and the two meet next week. Lewis and Clark is a game further back and faces Ferris.
Lewis and Clark 49, University 37: In a scoring-fest, the Tigers (4-2, 4-2), rallied from a 31-28 deficit with three successive touchdowns in the second half at U-Hi (2-5, 2-5). Included was a 58-yard sprint by Zach Robinson for the final score. Taylor Eglet passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns to Vaughn Kapiko, who had 161 yards on eight receptions. Levi Taylor gained 196 yards on 22 carries. Titan Tony Tabish threw for 234 yards and two TDs and rushed for another. John Wright rushed for 123 yards and two scores.
Coeur d’Alene 53, Shadle Park 0: After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings (3-4) started moving the ball left and right against the visiting and undermanned Highlanders (2-5). The Vikings built a 20-0 lead by halftime, then scored on their first five possessions of the second half. Quarterback J.J. Turbin completed 16 of 22 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns.