PULLMAN – Maybe it was the weather.
Or maybe the Colfax football team simply wasn’t used to facing a worthy opponent during a season where the final outcome of each Bulldogs contest has been as predictable as a Harlem Globetrotters game.
Whatever the reason, the reigning state runners-up didn’t look like themselves early in Monday night’s rescheduled 2B state semifinal against Waitsburg-Prescott at Martin Stadium.
But the finish was as familiar as any this still unblemished Colfax season.
The Bulldogs shook off a two-score deficit in the first half to take a heart-pounding, extremity-freezing 21-14 win over the Cardinals to advance to their second consecutive state championship game, where the Bulldogs will face South Bend on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Tacoma Dome.
Waitsburg-Prescott (11-1) battled from the start. The Cardinals used two touchdowns by Kris Cady for a 14-0 lead with 8:18 to play in the first half, dominating the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball and bottling up running back Tyler McNannay.
Unfamiliar territory, but no reason to panic.
“We weren’t going to give up,” said Colfax quarterback Alex Teade, who threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns. “Coaches stuck with us, everybody was fired up and we just battled back.”
That effort started when Colfax took possession at its own 37 late in the first half, desperate to put something on the board heading into intermission.
So Teade went ahead and led a gutsy, 63-yard drive in nine plays just before the half expired, finding Justin Berarducci in the end zone from 15 yards out as the final second ticked off the clock.
“It doesn’t take a statistician,” Colfax coach Mike Morgan said, “to know that when you score going into halftime, it gets you the momentum.”
And the Bulldogs never relinquished it.
Waitsburg-Prescott managed just 53 yards of offense in the second half as Colfax found an answer for Cardinals quarterback Zach Bartlow, who finished 9 of 22 for 102 yards and three interceptions.
Colfax (12-0) pulled within 14-13 when Kellen Morgan hauled in a 24-yard Teade touchdown pass with 1:52 to play in the third quarter, but McNannay missed the point-after.
But the Bulldogs’ defense made sure they’d have another chance. The game-winner came after a Cardinals three-and-out that followed a blocked McNannay field goal attempt, the result of a drive that began in Waitsburg-Prescott territory and ended when Teade hit Damon buck on a pretty, 19-yard, double-pump floater in the corner of the end zone.
Relief set in. The test was passed. And nobody was surprised.
“Big deal. Big character thing,” he said. “I’m real proud. We haven’t been down all season, and they were never worried.”