University receiver Kye Duplessis is one of the most dynamic players in the Greater Spokane League. After he was injured late in the first quarter on Thursday night, the complexion of the game changed completely.
Instead, it turned into the Keani Guthmueller show.
Lewis and Clark’s tailback rushed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries and the seventh-ranked Tigers remained unbeaten with a 39-29 win over the Titans at Albi Stadium.
Guthmueller, a junior, fell 9 yards short of joining the GSL’s top-10 list for single-game rushing.
Michael Flaherty added 100 rushing yards with two touchdown passes for Lewis and Clark (7-0, 3-0).
“That was a really good high school football game,” LC coach Dave Hughes said.
Every time the Tigers needed yards, Hughes called Guthmueller’s number.
“That’s what we do,” Guthmueller said. “We have so many options on our offense. We can go here, we can go there. There’s no way people can stop us.”
Attempting to describe Guthmueller’s performance, Hughes was almost speechless.
“Keani’s a very good running back,” he said. “We’ve known that for a while, and he just keeps getting better.”
Duplessis was hauled down from behind on a 73-yard kickoff return with U-Hi (4-3, 0-3) up 14-13 and landed awkwardly on his second return of 50-plus yards. Duplessis came back early in the fourth quarter and finished with five catches for 117 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown – mostly in the first 8 minutes.
Guthmueller – the league’s leading rusher with 903 yards – was a force the entire way. Late in the first, he ripped off 20 yards on a counter to set up first-and-10 at the U-Hi 29. Flaherty then bounced outside and went the distance, putting LC up 6-0.
U-Hi used its quick-strike offense as Gavin Wolcott hit Duplessis on a fly pattern for a 7-6 lead.
U-Hi forced a three-and-out and Duplessis took a long return to the LC 25. Isaac Matt carried for 9 yards, then Wolcott kept it for a 16-yard touchdown and 14-6 lead.
But LC went deep on first down as Flaherty hit Xavier Guillory in stride for a 64-yard touchdown.
After a fourth-down stop, Guthmueller busted one 66 yards to the U-Hi 21. Flaherty then found Guillory on a streak for their second TD connection and LC led 20-14.
Late in the second, LC lineman Carson Duncan got a hand up to block a low punt.
“I just wanted to make a point for our defense,” Duncan said. “I was not expecting it, but I gave it my all.”
Three plays later, Guthmueller went off-tackle and into the end zone and LC led 26-14 at halftime.
On the first possession of the second half, Flaherty fumbled and Peyton Vernier scooped it for a 49-yard TD, getting the Titans within four.
But Guthmueller went off-tackle for 55 yards for a 33-22 lead. On the next possession, he went up the middle for 58 yards and another TD.
U-Hi moved the ball out to midfield on the next drive, but Matt fumbled and it was recovered – by Guthmueller.
Wolcott added a late 1-yard plunge after a 13-play drive. Down 10 points, the Titans tried an onside kick, but LC recovered at its 41.
Holding strong: Duplessis’ long return in the first went to the LC 22. On fourth-and-1, Wolcott tried to sneak, but the LC interior stuffed it to force the turnover on downs, a big play in what was a one-point game. “Whenever we can get a stop on a fourth down, that’s huge for us,” Hughes said.
Titans down: In addition to Duplessis, University lost 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman David Jackson to a left leg injury playing defense in the first quarter. He left under his own power but spent the rest of the game on crutches.
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