Off to its longest unbeaten start since 1968, Rogers would have clinched just its fourth winning season since 1970 with a win Friday night.
The Pirates – No. 2 in 2A RPI and eighth in the media poll – built a big first-half lead and seemed to be in the driver’s seat.
But Shadle Park had other ideas.
LaDamien Tauala caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kaden Hooper in overtime to tie it, Memphis Lake nailed the extra point and the Highlanders completed their comeback to beat the Pirates 36-35 at ONE Spokane Stadium.
Shadle Park (4-1, 2-1) fell behind 22-0 early in the second quarter but recovered from the uneven start to come away with a key win in the Greater Spokane League 2A ranks.
“We knew Rogers is pretty good,” Shadle Park coach Jim Mace said. “We definitely didn’t play well to start the game, but our guys got after it. We just have a belief if we work our butts off, had a great week of practice and said, ‘Let’s give ourselves a chance.’ We got to half, got the ball back and kids made big plays. And the defense really got better as the game went on.”
Hooper carried 28 times for 143 yards, with 108 in the second half, and completed 8 of 14 passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns.
Rogers star Aaron Kinsey, who entered the game with 13 combined touchdowns, finished with 57 yards on 12 carries with a score. He completed 9 of 23 passes for 95 yards and a TD.
“It was a hell of a ballgame. We came out and battled, but the mistakes got us tonight,” Rogers coach Ryan Cole said.
“I really think it was just a mentality thing. I think maybe it just got to our guys’ heads – the pressure. I’m hoping that this loss projects us in the right direction, you know, now we don’t have such a huge target on our back anymore.”
After Rogers went up 22-0 early, Shadle scored the next three touchdowns to knot it at 22 on Hooper’s 3-yard run just 4 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Pirates took the ball back with 6 minutes, 23 seconds to go and an eight-play, 55-yard drive resulted in a Gavynn Bodman 13-yard touchdown run with 3:53 to go.
Shadle’s Jacob Boston returned the kick to the Rogers 8 and two plays later Hooper barreled in from the 3 to tie it at 29. The Highlanders recovered an onside kick, but the Rogers defense turned it over on downs and it headed to overtime.
Rogers (4-1, 1-1) took it first. After a roughing the passer penalty gave them new life, Kinsey scored on fourth-and-1 at the 3. But Michael Sanders’ extra-point attempt was deflected and fell short.
Shadle had fourth-and-4 at the 19. Hooper rolled to his right, gave a ball fake, then hit the wide-open Tauala in the right corner of the end zone. Lake made his kick to start the celebration.
“I put it where I knew he was gonna be,” Hooper said. “And he caught it. And I mean, it just comes down to the end of the game. We were all tired. We just got to make a play.”
“I just saw a wide-open pass,” Tauala said. “That’s all I saw.”
“I gotta give credit,” Mace said on the play call. “My defensive coordinator said, ‘They’re not covering (Tauala). Just throw it there.’ And so he was right, you know.”
On the first play of the game, the Pirates pulled some trickery as Fritz Reiher lined up at quarterback instead of Kinsey. Reiher threw to Hartman Warrick for 39 yards to the Shadle 29.
Six plays later, Bodman went off-tackle from the 5 and plowed into the end zone. Rogers faked the kick and Kinsey carried around the left end for the 2-point conversion.
Shadle turned it over on downs at the Rogers 42. After moving into Highlanders territory, on third-and-long Kinsey spun out of a potential sack and hit Warrick for 18 yards to the Shadle 14.
On the next play, Ja’shon Moore took a lateral to the right side for a touchdown and 15-0 lead with just more than 2 minutes left in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Rogers linebacker Colby Bogle picked off Hooper at the Shadle 36. Four plays later, Moore took a shuttle pass up the middle for 16 yards and a 22-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Highlanders returned the kick to midfield and Hooper peeled off runs of 12 and 11 yards. On fourth-and-6 at the 28, he threw a slant to Tyler Yarger, who fought off two defenders for the catch then stumbled into the end zone to make it 22-7.
Shadle was forced to punt near midfield, but Kinsey muffed the return and the Highlanders took over at the Rogers 15.
The Highlanders capitalized on the mistake. Hooper hit Jacob Hernandez on a lob from the 14 for a score 33 seconds before halftime to trim the deficit to 22-14.
Shadle took the second-half kick to the Rogers 21, but Hooper was picked off by Triston Bates at the goal line.
After Rogers punted, Hooper connected with Boston for 33 yards to the Pirates 48. Hooper carried for 11 and 10 yards to earn first down at the 14. On first-and-goal at the 2, Hooper plowed into the end zone for a TD and the 2-point conversion tied it at 22.
“We still have the opportunity to win league if we run the table,” Cole said. “Just battle for position. It’s still open. There’s no runaway right now.”