Lewis and Clark finished third of three in the Greater Spokane League 4A ranks. But since District 8 gets three bids to state, the Tigers got the chance to play Mid-Columbia Conference fourth-place finisher Pasco in a play-in game to the Week 10 crossovers.
The Tigers took advantage of that chance and earned the right to take on MCC champ Kamiakin (9-0) – the No. 4-rated 4A team according to the WIAA’s RPI – on Saturday for a bid to state.
Gentz Hilburn carried 18 times for 222 yards with two touchdowns and the Tigers beat the Bulldogs 34-28 at Union Stadium on Tuesday.
Hilburn had five catches for 44 yards and another score. Max Meyer added 83 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
“We’re just happy to be playing still,” LC coach Joe Ireland said. “You know, we got a lot of young kids and we get a couple more days of practice and, you know, whatever.
“Whenever we get in between the white lines, anything can happen.”
It didn’t start great for the Tigers. Lewis and Clark (4-6) coughed it up near midfield on a failed pitch on its first possession.
After an LC three-and-out, Pasco (2-8) got the ball back at its 42. On third-and-19, Jamie Townsend II collected a middle screen from Kaden Watanabe and busted it to the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead late in the first.
On its next play, LC fumbled another pitch, and the bouncing ball was eventually scooped up by Alex Ramirez for a score.
Midway through the second quarter, Hilburn took a snap out of the Wildcat formation, made a player miss on a spin move on the corner, and went 59 yards to score. The extra point made it a one-score game.
A fumbled punt put Pasco back in business at the LC 44, but Stephan Cox picked off a long ball from Watanabe to thwart the drive.
Hilburn broke one over the left side, then dragged tacklers the last 10 yards of a 40-yard gain. Two plays later, Meyer went off-tackle right, hit the corner and went 31 yards for a TD and 14-all tie at halftime.
“I’m proud of our kids for coming out of that 14-0 hole,” Ireland said. “They showed a lot of character, and we came out and told them they got a mulligan in the second half when we got it tied up.”
Hilburn had 137 yards on nine carries for LC at the break, while Townsend had 64 yards rushing and 69 receiving for Pasco.
LC forced a punt at the start of the third and took the ball at its 41. Once into Pasco territory, Northern found a wide-open Tyler Jones down the right sideline for a 33-yard TD pass and 21-14 lead.
Pasco went to the air on four straight plays and Townsend hauled in a short pass over the middle and took it 37 yards to the LC 2. But LC’s defense stood tall and the Bulldogs missed a short field-goal attempt.
The Tigers went on an 11-play drive, culminated by Hilburn’s 34-yard touchdown run. The kick was blocked and LC led 27-14 with just over 7 minutes to play.
Pasco replied with a 48-yard fly pattern completed to Rafael Vargas to make it a one-score game with 6½ minutes left.
LC recovered the onside kick and Hilburn broke off a 48-yard run to the 6. He took a direct snap up the middle for the score and the extra point made it 34-21.
The Bulldogs used a 13-play drive, culminated by a 6-yard pass from Watanabe to Townsend to draw within a touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
But the Tigers recovered another onside kick and killed all but a dozen seconds off the clock.
Townsend finished with 97 yards rushing on 16 carries and added seven catches for 149 yards. Watanabe finished 22 of 32 for 329 yards.
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