Mt. Spokane, a football team that’s been there, held off Shadle Park, a team that’s trying to get there.
The top 3A team in the Greater Spokane League the last four years, Mt. Spokane played a turnover-free game, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to stop the Highlanders 28-21 in an entertaining contest to the finish at Albi Stadium.
“We talked before the game (that) although this was the start of the 3A (games) in the playoff picture, this team needed a win,” Mt. Spokane coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We really have played well enough to win the last two weeks – though we played two pretty good football teams. We couldn’t find a way to get it done.”
The Wildcats (1-2) found a way this time.
For the Highlanders (0-3), the search for the elusive breakthrough victory continues. Count coach Alan Stanfield tired of moral victories.
“We’re tired of winning little battles in the grand scheme of things,” Stanfield said. “We’ve made a lot of improvements. I even thought last year we were better than a one-win team. Our kids just haven’t pushed through to the other side yet. They’re competing really well but not for four quarters.”
The teams combined to move the ball between the 20-yard lines in the first half, but it was largely uneventful until their final possessions.
Mt. Spokane used 15 plays to move 65 yards before Chase Naccarato poked into the end zone from a yard out with 1:30 to go before halftime.
Shadle Park, backed up to its 10, scored with no time on the clock. The Highlanders moved 85 yards on 11 plays before quarterback Levi McBournie found receiver Drew Before in the back of the end zone on a 10-yard connection. Before used some nifty footwork to get his toes down for the TD reception.
The offenses overshadowed the defenses in the second half.
Shadle scored on its first second-half possession when McBournie swung a pass to Before, who got past a Wildcat cornerback for a 20-yard TD to give the Highlanders their first lead at 14-7 with 8:24 to go in the third quarter.
Mt. Spokane evened it at 14-14 when the Wildcats converted on third-and-17. Quarterback Skyler Davis hit Tanner Kissinger on a 30-yard TD pass.
The Highlanders needed just 13 seconds – the time it took for running back Aaron Anderson to sprint 79 yards untouched – to pull out front a final time. Anderson’s jaunt made it 21-14 with 2:45 remaining in the period.
Mt. Spokane, which converted four fourth-down plays, got a big conversion on its next possession. On fourth-and-14 from the Shadle 15, Davis hit Naccarato on a quick middle screen, and Naccarato, behind a great downfield block from Andrew McFarlain, got into the end zone to pull even at 21-21 with 11:05 remaining.
Kissinger picked off a McBournie pass at the Wildcats’ 25 and returned it to the 49, setting up Mt. Spokane’s winning TD.
Naccarato scored a third TD from a yard out with 3:43 to go.