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Richland knocks out turnover-prone Ferris

Richland’s Jesse Malone intercepts a pass intended for Ferris’ Jalen Hicks during Friday night’s State 4A play-in game at Albi Stadium. (Jesse Tinsley)
Richland’s Jesse Malone intercepts a pass intended for Ferris’ Jalen Hicks during Friday night’s State 4A play-in game at Albi Stadium. (Jesse Tinsley)

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Ferris.

Everything that could go right did go right for Richland – especially in the first half.

And it didn’t get any better for Ferris in the second half as the Bombers throttled the Saxons 35-7 in a State 4A play-in football game on Friday night at Joe Albi Stadium.

The Greater Spokane League’s 4A postseason qualifiers are finished. Mid-Columbia Conference champ Chiawana knocked out visiting Gonzaga Prep 42-14.

Richland (9-1) outplayed Ferris (8-2) in most facets.

“It was a tough night,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said. “They are a very good football team and I knew that. We knew on film that we had our hands full. We just can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win a game.”

Ferris finished with seven turnovers, but Sharkey wouldn’t use the mistakes as an excuse.

“Even if it was an even-up game, it was going to be a tough night,” he said. “(Richland) could make some noise.”

In a matter of 3 minutes, 34 seconds, a scoreless game turned into a 21-0 Richland lead midway in the second quarter.

Ferris appeared as if it would score first, using 11 plays to move 60 yards before turning the ball over on downs at Richland’s 22-yard line with 4:53 to go in the first quarter.

Richland, behind bulldozing running back Anthony Galat, methodically moved the ball over 15 plays and 80 yards with Nathan Perry scoring from 2 yards out with 10:33 to go in the second quarter.

Then the first of two big Saxons turnovers happened when wide receiver Tim Kirby fumbled, giving the Bombers possession at the Ferris 32.

Five plays later, Bombers quarterback Zach Whitby hit Mason Nelson with a 13-yard TD pass as Nelson got past Ferris cornerback Jalen Hicks for a 14-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Cole Karstetter muffed the catch and the ball bounded toward the goal line. Karstetter tried to jump on the ball and it squirted away into the end zone where the Bombers’ Lakota Willis pounced on it for a TD.

Just like that, it was Richland 21-0 with 7:59 to go before intermission.

To the Saxons’ credit, they bounced back with their best offensive series. On third-and-5 at their 46, Karstetter passed out of the double-wing set to a wide-open Hicks, who gained 39 to Richland’s 15. Karstetter sprinted up the gut 15 yards on the next play for the touchdown.

Ferris lost all three of its fumbles in the first half.

The Saxons couldn’t turn the momentum in the second half.

Four Richland running backs combined for 255 yards. Whitby completed 9 of 21 passes for 147 yards.

Karstetter finished with 73 yards on 12 carries.

“We came out firing, but turnovers really killed us,” Karstetter said. “It sucks going out with a loss, but they played well and we shot ourselves with all the turnovers. I’ve got to tip my cap to them, they just beat us.”

Sharkey said it didn’t help the game got away fast.

“We didn’t handle the adversity well early,” Sharkey said. “When it went from (7-0) to (21-0) right then it was tough.”