PASCO – Central Valley coach Rick Giampietri didn’t think his team was in too bad a shape at halftime of its 4A Eastern Regional football playoff game at Chiawana on Friday night.
Sure, the Bears trailed 14-0, but they’d owned time of possession in the first half and racked up some decent numbers with bruising tailback Brandon Garcia carrying the ball.
So when CV’s Jacob Smith recovered an onside kick to open the third quarter, and the Bears promptly marched for a touchdown by Gaven Deyarmin, they figured they were right back in the game.
That’s until Jordan Downing and the fifth-ranked Riverhawks had their say in the matter.
Downing followed a 50-yard kickoff return by Geramey Duckworth with seven consecutive running plays, the last a 4-yard scamper untouched into the end zone that regained the momentum for Chiawana in an eventual 35-7 victory over the Bears at Edgar Brown Stadium.
“That was a huge series for them,” Giampietri said. “We make it 14-7, but we just couldn’t get a stop. Their tailback is for real.”
Chiawana (9-0) plays today’s Kentlake-Newport (Bellevue) winner in next week’s first round of the state playoffs. CV ended the year 6-4.
Downing finished the game with 211 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, accounting for almost 86 percent of Chiawana’s offensive production.
Even though the Bears knew what was coming, they were almost powerless to stop the Riverhawks’ 6-foot, 195-pound junior. “He’s a big dude,” said junior safety Alex Jacot, who led CV with 15 tackles. “He’s just really tough to stop when he’s coming at you full speed.”
The first half, though, Downing spent almost all his time playing linebacker (eight tackles). CV held the ball for just more than 19 minutes, running 38 plays to Chiawana’s 12, but couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
Garcia, who ran for 125 yards for CV, was stripped of the ball by Chiawana’s Brett Adamson in the red zone to spoil the Bears’ opening drive. After CV forced a three-and-out, it again moved into Riverhawks territory before back-to-back sacks ended the drive. On the ensuing punt, the Bears overpursued, creating a lane for junior Miquiyah Zamora to zip 82 yards for a touchdown.
Downing’s 6-yard TD run made it 14-0 midway through the second, and CV appeared to close the gap just before halftime when Deyarmin scored on a 10-yard run. But a holding penalty negated the score, and after another sack, a bad snap ruined a 38-yard field-goal try with 23 seconds left before halftime.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half,” Giampietri said. “Instead of being down 14-0, we could have been ahead.”
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