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Late defensive stop sends Colville to State 1A championship game

Cascade’s Carson McMahon tackles Colville’s Colton Vining, who rushed for 133 yards in the Indians’ State 1A semifinal victory. (Colin Mulvany)
Cascade’s Carson McMahon tackles Colville’s Colton Vining, who rushed for 133 yards in the Indians’ State 1A semifinal victory. (Colin Mulvany)

It’s no secret what the Colville football team’s strength has been this season.

The Indians had to lean as heavily as they have all season on their defense Saturday, using a fourth-and-1 stop at their 19-yard line with 1 minute, 19 seconds remaining to secure a 20-14 win over the Cascade Kodiaks in a State 1A semifinal Saturday afternoon at Albi Stadium.

The second-ranked Indians (12-0) advance to Tacoma to face No. 1-ranked Cascade Christian (12-0) in the championship game Saturday morning at 10.

Nobody knew which players were in on the critical stop but Colton Vining said it was a swarm.

“It seemed like 15 people stopped him,” Vining said.

Colville coach Randy Cornwell wondered if his team had too much success too early.

The Indians used two touchdowns to jump out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter.

“Maybe things came too easily at first,” Cornwell said. “Then things got difficult.”

Cornwell was quick to give the Kodiaks praise for the difficult part.

“What they did defensively was really good,” Cornwell said. “I’ll have to go back and look at it on film but they did some things we haven’t seen all year.”

Eventually, Cascade took a 14-12 lead in the third quarter, and the Kodiaks had the Indians on their heels.

Colville went to what got it to the semifinals, and the Indians put together a go-ahead drive that featured mostly Vining, who finished with a team-high 133 yards on 27 carries.

“Hats off to them,” Cornwell said. “They played really well and played really hard.”

Cornwell thought his team had succumbed to some jitters. Understandably so, too. It was the first time the Indians had advanced to the semifinals.

“That was not like us offensively,” Cornwell said. “Our kids were ready to play. It was a little case of nerves.”

Colville struck quickly on the game’s first possession. Vining capped nine-play drive by dashing 3 yards for a touchdown.

Then on the Indians final series of the first quarter, they doubled up their lead when Journy Young sprinted 14 yards around right end untouched.

Cascade (8-4) finally broke through when Dennis Merritt sprinted 62 yards to pull Cascade within 12-7 with 2:18 to go before halftime.

The Kodiaks took the lead at 14-12 on the first possession of the second half. And the go-ahead TD came on another big play from Merritt, who cut back a couple of times to complete a 71-yard scoring scamper.

Colville regained the lead when Vining got his second TD on an 11-yard run at 2:39 in the third.

Merritt led Cascade with 192 yards on 20 carries – the most yards allowed by the Indians this season.

Colville quarterback Ben Knight completed 9 of 10 passes for 143 yards.

“It was fitting that our defense won the game for us,” Cornwell said. “We’ve got a little work to do. Up until this game we thought our team was still improving. We’ve got to go to work solving this one. We haven’t been tested like that all year.”

Vining is pleased to play one more week.

“It wasn’t a great powerhouse performance by us but we got it done,” he said. “When we got the lead, I don’t know if we coasted or they caught up to speed because all of a sudden they kicked it on.”

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