It was appropriate that the Gonzaga Prep-Lewis and Clark football game had a playoff feel Friday.
The Bullpups rode their defense and eked out just enough offense in the end to hold off the Tigers 17-7 in a Greater Spokane League 4A game at Albi Stadium.
Gonzaga Prep (4-0 league) secured a play-in berth and will take on Ferris (3-1) next Thursday to decide the league championship.
There’s no doubt that LC (2-2) and Central Valley (2-2), which fell in the last seconds 14-10 to Ferris, will be rooting for the Bullpups in the final week of the regular season. A G-Prep win coupled with LC and CV victories would create a three-way tie for the second play-in berth. That would necessitate a mini playoff.
CV is at University and Mead takes on LC at Albi next Friday. They’ll know what they have to do after G-Prep and Ferris face off on Thursday.
“We’ve just got to continue to play and get better,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said when told the Bullpups are postseason-bound. “LC is extremely tough and physical. Dave Hughes does a great job with his team. But we’ve got to execute better. I’ll give them credit, they played a great game and we scored just enough points to beat them, but there were times we didn’t execute.”
It was a defensive standoff for most of 2 ½ quarters, and the play that had the biggest impact came on special teams.
LC lined up to attempt a tying field goal from 37 yards, but Jack Machtolf squirted through to get a hand on the kick. It caromed skyward, and Cole Witter hauled in the ball at the 10-yard line.
Witter said he delayed his sprint down field, allowing blockers to form a wall in front of him.
He worked up the sideline in front of G-Prep’s bench, dashing 90 yards for a touchdown that extended the Bullpups’ lead to 10-0 with 5:56 to go in the quarter.
“It was a heads-up by all 11 guys,” McKenna said of the blocked field goal.
“Everyone blocked for me,” Witter said. “I waited a little bit and a wall formed and things opened up.”
There was plenty of time, but with the way G-Prep’s defense was playing it had to seem the Tigers didn’t have enough time.
The Bullpups’ offense finally contributed late in the third. After a big 46-yard connection between quarterback Liam Bell and receiver Nick Wood, Nick Johnson took a pitch on a well-executed option and found the end zone from 7 yards out for a 17-0 lead with 1:42 remaining in the third.
LC broke through in the fourth. A seven-play drive was capped when running back Taylor Duncan went 4 yards around left end with 9:39 to go.
Witter thwarted LC’s final drive when he intercepted a pass that slipped off the hands of quarterback Jordan Summers and had the arc of a punt.
LC had a chance to score a touchdown in the first half, coming on its first possession.
The Tigers marched 10 plays to G-Prep’s 2-yard line and faced fourth-and-goal. LC lined up as if it was going for it and a lineman moved early.
LC then missed a 24-yard field-goal attempt.
G-Prep used 11 plays to move to LC’s 5. Facing fourth-and-3, Bullpups kicker Jarred Kutsch hit a 22-yard field goal from a difficult left angle with 2:28 to go in the first quarter.
That would account for the first-half scoring.
Neither team threatened the final 14 minutes of the first half.
LC had 168 yards total offense in the first two quarters to G-Prep’s 102.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.