Deer Park’s defense did enough to win Saturday afternoon.
The offense just couldn’t keep the ball.
Three first-half interceptions threw the host Stags out of rhythm early, and a fumble on their 1-yard line allowed Ellensburg to take a three-touchdown lead en route to a 21-7 victory in the first round of the State 2A football playoffs.
“Defensively, really and truly, minus the 1-yard drive they have two scoring possessions the whole game, so defensively I thought we played a good game,” Deer Park head coach Keith Stamps said. “We just couldn’t get on track offensively.”
Ellensburg (9-3), playing its third game in 10 days, defeated its second Great Northern League opponent in five days – the Bulldogs beat Cheney at home on Tuesday. Deer Park (9-2) finishes with a program record for victories, led by what Stamps called a solid senior class.
“Back-to-back league titles has never been done at Deer Park. These seniors are going to leave the winningest group in the history of the school,” Stamps said. “I think the goal is always to leave the program better than they found it, and this group definitely is.”
Deer Park senior quarterback Colton Mead threw for 203 yards and completed 15 of 25 passes, but mistakes at critical junctures killed the Stags’ momentum.
The Bulldogs’ Michael Wyatt picked off Mead twice in the first quarter, then took a third in the second on a double pass thrown by receiver Dalton Hanson.
When it had the ball, Ellensburg packed it in and ran, throwing only seven times. Tailback J Foley and quarterback Matt Bennett each hit triple digits in rushing yards, running for 110 and 105, respectively. Bennett ran for first-half touchdowns of 8 and 6 yards, and Austin Lyman added a 6-yard run in the third quarter to take a 21-0 lead.
Deer Park supplied the final margin on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mead to tight end Dylan Miller 48 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Stags’ final drive ended on a failed fake punt attempt.
Ellensburg will host Prosser in next weekend’s quarterfinals.
Prosser 40, West Valley 0: Ryan Fassler completed 15 of 24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns as the host Mustangs whitewashed the Eagles (9-3).
Prosser’s Isaac Anderson rushed for 67 yards, including a 14-yard TD run in the first quarter.
WV’s Dylan Ellsworth finished with 17 carries for 50 yards. Tyler Stavnes of the Eagles completed 11 of 18 passes for 117 yards, with one interception.