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Sports >  High school sports

Johnny Talarico busts game open on reverse plays, Mead sprints past University

Sept. 9, 2022 Updated Fri., Sept. 9, 2022 at 11:23 p.m.

Mead defensive back Colby Thomas makes a one-handed interception of a pass intended for University wide receiver Jalen King during first half of a high school football game, Friday, September 9, 2022, at University High School.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Mead defensive back Colby Thomas makes a one-handed interception of a pass intended for University wide receiver Jalen King during first half of a high school football game, Friday, September 9, 2022, at University High School. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Mead quarterback Colby Danielson can beat teams a lot of ways. Most of them were on display Friday against University.

And he got a lot of help from Johnny Talarico.

Danielson ran for a touchdown and threw for another, Talarico rushed for 86 yards with a TD on just four carries, and the visiting Panthers topped the Titans 24-7 in a Greater Spokane League game.

Mead was coming off an impressive 14-13 win over Eastmont on the road in the season opener, where the Panthers blocked a field goal attempt with less than 3 minutes to go to preserve victory. Meanwhile, U-Hi hoped to bounce back after getting down early in a 30-14 loss to Mt. Spokane at Union Stadium.

But it was all Mead in this one.

Danielson finished 9 of 17 for 86 yards with a 39-yard TD pass on a fly pattern to Keenan Kuntz, and eight carries for 57 yards on the ground.

“Great win for our program,” Danielson said. “All throughout the week in practice we had just been working hard, just grinding. We know we had to smack them in the mouth.”

“He’s something, you know,” Mead coach Keith Stamps said of his QB. “I’ve coached against guys like that a lot. He’s a handful and he’s making good decisions right now and he’s been a good leader.”

Colby Thomas had two interceptions for Mead’s defense, which limited U-Hi to 167 yards.

“Defense played great, those turnovers were huge,” Talarico said. “Huge momentum swinger, put us in scoring position.”

“Loved the way defense played this week,” Stamps said. “Last week when we went back and graded the film we saw a lot of corrections and really challenged our defense this week.”

Stamps said he put the reverse package in for Talarico specifically for the game.

“Every time he called them, my heart started to tingle,” Talarico said. “I knew I had to try and take it back. It was awesome.”

After forcing a U-Hi punt in the first quarter, Mead went on an 11-play drive, bolstered by three Titans penalties – including a roughing the passer call. The Panthers drive stalled at the 21 and they settled for a 38-yard field goal by Quinton Pacheco.

Midway through the second quarter, U-Hi quarterback Caleb Wolcott collided with Malaki Miller on a fake handoff and the ball squirted loose, recovered by a Mead lineman at the Titans 43.

Talarico took a reverse to the U-Hi 5 and on the next play he finished what he started, taking a sweep around left end for a touchdown and 10-0 lead.

“He called my number again and I knew that I had to punch it in,” Talarico said.

U-Hi tried to go deep on the next possession, but Thomas made a leaping interception at the Titans 46. On second-and-3, Danielson found Kuntz streaking down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

“We’ve been sitting on that all week, just waiting for that moment,” Danielson said. “We had max protection there and we just led it deep to Keenan.”

“I just think speed is everything in football,” Kuntz said. “Whether it’s defense or offense. When we can go down and we can beat our defenders deep or we can get a screen pass and run it up field for 20 yards is everything.”

The Titans converted a pair of fourth-down attempts on their next drive, but the third attempt was not successful. Mead got the ball back on downs at its 30 with 40 seconds in the half, and Talarico took another reverse 42 yards to the U-Hi 28.

Danielson scrambled for 11 yards to the 6 but with 10 seconds left, the pass play broke down and Danielson was chased out of bounds at the horn.

Mead received the second-half kick and proceeded to go on a 17-play, nearly 8-minute drive – the longest gain was 11 yards – which culminated with Danielson’s 9-yard TD run that made it 24-0.

The Titans broke up the shutout with less than a minute left as Walcott connected with Peyton Walcott on a 9-yard TD.

U-Hi starting tailback Miller injured his left ankle late in the second quarter and sat out the remainder of the game. He finished with eight carries for 42 yards.

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