PASCO – It’s a bad thing when you see the back of a player’s uniform most of the game – especially if said jersey is worn by a running back.
Just ask the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups.
Overpowering doesn’t begin to describe Austin Urlacher and his Chiawana offensive line.
The RiverHawks served up a 38-3 beat down, leveling the Bullpups in a State 4A semifinal football game Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium.
The defending state champion RiverHawks (11-1) advance to face Graham-Kapowsin (11-1) in the semifinals next Saturday. G-K defeated Wenatchee 27-7 on Friday.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Urlacher ran through, over and around the Bullpups. He finished with a season-high 363 yards on 31 carries, 220 coming in the first half. His previous best this year was 303 against Kamiakin.
“He’s a hard runner and he’s slippery,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said. “He’s hard to tackle. They’re going to be tough to beat.”
Considering G-Prep (10-2) didn’t mount any offense in the first half, it was fortunate that Chiawana led only 17-0 at halftime.
G-Prep kept Chiawana out of the end zone early in the second quarter, allowing a 29-yard field goal that gave the RiverHawks a 10-0 lead.
With 22 seconds left in the first half, Chiawana quarterback Logan Ellsworth fumbled on first-and-goal at the 4-yard line and G-Prep recovered, averting another potential RiverHawks score.
Chiawana dominated most statistics in the first half, including a huge advantage in time of possession (16 minutes, 36 seconds to 7:24).
The RiverHawks had 303 yards of total offense to G-Prep’s 41 in the first two quarters.
G-Prep had five possessions in the first half. The deepest drive was on the first series when the Bullpups got to Chiawana’s 22 before the drive stalled.
Whatever comeback hopes the Bullpups harbored evaporated quickly in the second half.
G-Prep slotback Nick Wood got his first carry on the first play of the second half and he sprinted 46 yards to Chiawana’s 8. But the drive went backward from there before the Bullpups had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Jarred Kutsch.
It would be the Bullpups’ lone score.
On Chiawana’s first play following the kickoff, Urlacher dashed 70 yards untouched to extend the lead to 24-3.
The Bullpups’ final undoing came on turnovers thereafter.
Wood said he didn’t touch the ball in the first half because Chiawana didn’t give the Bullpups the look they wanted.
“It was just the way they were lining up,” Wood said. “We could have executed better but they’re a really good team. We just didn’t play like we’re capable of.”
That was disappointing to McKenna.
“They’re good and I’m going to give them credit,” McKenna said of the RiverHawks. “We weren’t getting off blocks. They’re a great football team. We didn’t make plays when we needed to. We had opportunities. But our kids competed and battled and I’m proud of the season.”
There’s a specific why the Bullpups had difficulty rushing. Chiawana coach Steve Graff said his defensive coordinator, Don Hogue, changed the plan against G-Prep by moving linebacker Caleb Weber back a few yards so Prep couldn’t get a seam for its running game.
“The reason we went to that defense was a few years ago (G-Prep) rushed for 602 yards against us up there,” Graff said. “I immediately fired myself as defensive coordinator and named Hogue the new guy.”
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