Mt. Spokane entered Friday’s road game undefeated and averaging 32.6 points per game. Its host, Central Valley, was coming off its worst game of the season, a 28-0 decision to Mead when it gave up more than 200 yards rushing.
So naturally, it turned into a defensive showdown. And a blocked field goal on a 49-yard attempt might have been the biggest play of the game.
Matteo Saccomanno rushed 19 times for 132 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown and the visiting Wildcats (6-0, 5-0) outlasted the Bears (2-4, 2-3) 23-13 in a Greater Spokane League 4A/3A game.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Saccomanno said. “I just ran behind my line, they pretty much paved the way for me.”
“They always play us tough,” Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said. “You look at the last few years and our games between them, they’ve all been epic battles. … We’re close with their staff and so I think there’s some familiarity there and they do a great job of scheming us up.”
“I thought we had a pretty good game plan going in and we executed it for the most part,” CV coach Ryan Butner said. “They made adjustments. And I think at the end of the day, they probably just made more plays than we did.”
Late in the third quarter, CV’s Beau Butner converted a fake punt for 32 yards to the Wildcats 27. But the Bears lost yardage on a first-down screen and didn’t recover. Tyler Bissell was called upon for a 49-yard field-goal attempt, but it was blocked and Mt. Spokane took over at its 40.
“I have all the confidence in Tyler. He’s a phenomenal kicker. He’s only a sophomore and I put him in a really tough situation. I kept telling him I’ll do it again,” Butner said. “But yeah, that was a big, big turn of events.”
Saccomanno ripped off a 25-yard run and an 11-yard pass to Talan Main put it at the CV 23.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ryen Borchers carried 16 yards to the CV 4. On the next play, Saccomanno took the direct snap and went off tackle untouched to give the Wildcats a 16-7 lead.
“He’s a physical runner.” Cloer said of Saccomanno. “He’s tough to tackle. People don’t want to tackle him and if you’re gonna tackle him, you’re gonna pay a price.
“He was running hard tonight and running with some aggression.”
The teams traded punts and CV took over at the Mt Spokane 45. CV faced fourth-and-3 at the 38 and Butner was leveled by Borchers short of the line to gain to turn it over on downs.
“I just knew that the ball was coming as soon as he went in motion,” Borchers said. “I just flew down and I knew I had to make a play.”
Saccomanno carried 13 yards to the 50, then Brayden Ayers took a draw up the middle untouched for a 46-yard touchdown and a 23-7 lead with 5:25 to go.
“Ayers popping the big one was a huge play,” Cloer said. “We didn’t get many big plays, but that was one of them.”
It started easy enough for Mt. Spokane. On its first possession, QB TJ Haberman went deep to Borchers for 25 yards, but the senior receiver was stripped at the 3. Gardner scooped the loose ball and avoided a tackle to get into the end zone and put Mt. Spokane on the board.
The extra point was blocked and the Wildcats led 6-0 early.
CV turned it over on downs near midfield as Saccomanno sacked Bo Reisenauer for a loss of 12 to the Mt. Spokane 48. But CV defensive back Kimoni Davis hauled in Haberman’s deep ball to Gardner and returned the interception to the CV 47.
Early in the second quarter, CV took over at the Mt. Spokane 49 on a fourth-down sack. On fourth-and-2 the Bears ran an inside screen to senior Danner Smith, who broke one tackle and streaked down the sideline for a touchdown. The extra point put CV up 7-6.
Haberman (18-of-30 passing, 185 yards) was intercepted by Daniel Imes at the CV 31, but the Bears’ drive went backward.
After a punt pinned Mt. Spokane at its 4, Saccomanno had carries of 12 and 15 yards. Haberman hit Gardner (six catches, 79 yards) on a fly route for 40 yards to the CV 25 and Saccomanno carried for 15 yards to the 10.
The drive stalled, though, and the Wildcats settled for a 28-yard field goal by Talan Main and a 9-7 lead at halftime.