For most of Friday night’s Greater Spokane League game at Joe Albi Stadium, neither the Ferris Saxons nor the Mead Panthers were moving the ball efficiently.
Then, as it has done for two consecutive weeks, the Saxons offense started to click in the second half. Click, though, is a relative term.
A long third-quarter drive and a long fourth-quarter pass play were enough, however, to lift Ferris to a 16-7 win over Mead.
“We didn’t read our option real well in the first half,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said of a half in which the teams combined for five punts, a muffed punt, a missed field goal and an interception. “Just a couple little breakdowns here and there … 10 guys do a good job and one guy breaks down, it always seems to bite you.”
Both teams had bite marks at halftime, though Mead led 7-6 thanks to an 11-yard TD run by Anthony Gold and a Ferris PAT that clanked off the left upright.
But on the Saxons’ second possession after halftime, they marched 57 yards in 6 minutes, 8 seconds, converting four consecutive third downs en route to a 35-yard Braden Brock field goal and a 9-7 lead.
“Our line stepped up,” said Ferris quarterback Mitch Pike, who rushed for 47 yards on 18 carries, including a 2-yard run for the Saxons’ first-half score. “We executed better, with super routes by the receivers. They ran hard and gave me the opportunity to make good throws.”
Pike’s best throw came on the next Ferris (3-4, 2-1) possession. But all receiver Keegan Bray did was run in front of Pike, catch a short shovel pass in traffic, then break three tackles over the next 5 yards. That got him free and he rumbled 41 more yards, finally run out of bounds at the Mead 6.
A horse-collar tackle put the ball at the 3 and Jalen Hicks took it in on the next play for what turned out to be an insurmountable 16-7 lead.
Insurmountable, mainly because the Ferris defense limited the Panthers to 138 yards of total offense, 131 on the ground.
“Our defense stepped up an played well,” Sharkey said.
The Panthers (2-5, 0-3) only penetrated Ferris’ side of the 50 three times, two of them after long kickoff returns. Their best scoring chance came late in the third, but a fumble at the Ferris 25 – recovered by Saxon James Mann – killed the drive and led to Ferris’ go-ahead field goal.
For the first time this season, Ferris won with Jalen Hicks held under 100 yards rushing. The senior running back carried 20 times for 96 yards. Pike took up some of the slack through the air, hitting 15 of 25 passes for 158 yards.
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