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G-Prep uses defense, special teams to beat LC

Three Gonzaga Prep defenders attempt to bring down Lewis and Clark receiver Camryn Schon behind the line of scrimmage. (Jesse Tinsley)
Three Gonzaga Prep defenders attempt to bring down Lewis and Clark receiver Camryn Schon behind the line of scrimmage. (Jesse Tinsley)

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.

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