It was a bounce-back victory the Lewis and Clark Tigers needed.
For the injury-plagued Gonzaga Prep Bullpups, they just continued bouncing backward.
And when LC running back Ammar Johnson collided with Bullpups, he was the one going forward most of the time.
Johnson had career highs for rushes (44) and yards (216) as the Tigers rallied for a 31-21 victory in Greater Spokane League action Thursday at Joe Albi Stadium.
After a heartbreaking 20-19 loss in overtime to Mead last week, the Tigers finished this time by climbing out of a 14-0 hole.
The 5-foot-8, 166-pound Johnson, who packs short bursts with power, scored two touchdowns and should have had a third on LC’s final scoring drive. Johnson bulldozed 9 yards to the 1-yard line where he fumbled into the end zone. But teammate and right tackle Ryan Leslie fell on the ball as the Tigers (3-1) extended their lead to the final margin with 6:23 remaining.
“I was blocking and I saw the ball pop loose so I dove on it,” Leslie said. “That was about it.”
Not really. Leslie’s heroics saved Johnson a possible earful from his coaches.
“He saved my butt,” Johnson said, smiling. “I’m happy he got the touchdown for us. I didn’t want to get yelled out by the coaches if we didn’t score there.”
Johnson thought he could power his way into the end zone.
“I tried to run over the safety and his helmet hit my arm and hand and it just popped out,” Johnson said.
The Bullpups (2-2) we’re trying to rebound from a disappointing loss at University last week in which G-Prep suffered the loss of standout junior running back Griffin Hare (broken hand).
Sophomore Tom Davis started in Hare’s absence. Davis had quite the debut, scoring G-Prep’s first touchdown and finishing with 147 yards on 23 carries.
It took LC a while to lock into its responsibilities in defending G-Prep’s multiple-option offense. The Bullpups gained 213 yards on 32 attempts in the first half but managed just 71 on 15 carries in the final two quarters.
“Whenever you play a triple-option team it’s tough to find the football,” LC coach Dave Hughes said. “And they definitely took advantage of us sometimes. We made them go a long field and we didn’t give them big plays.”
G-Prep took advantage of an LC fumble, needing just four plays to take a 14-0 lead when quarterback Zach Bonneau dashed 9 yards.
LC’s next possession perhaps was its most important of the game. The Tigers took over at their 31 with 7:38 to go in the first half. With a big dose of Johnson (10 carries on the drive), LC used 15 plays before Johnson scored from 7 yards out on a nice cutback move with 1:04 to go before halftime.
After G-Prep took a 21-14 lead, it was all LC thereafter.
The Tigers evened things at 21-21 on a 10-yard run by Johnson, and then Matt Martin, who missed a point-after kick in overtime last week, drilled a 24-yard field goal to give LC its first lead at 24-21 with 11:12 to go.
“We came and bounced back and we’re going to have a great season now,” Leslie said. “That tough loss shouldn’t have happened but it did.”
Said Hughes: “We’re excited about this senior class. They had a heartbreaker last week and I’m proud how they bounced back. I thought Gonzaga Prep gave us a championship effort. They had a lot of guys out.”
NC 17, Shadle Park 10: Behind the running of junior quarterback Jake Hoffman and stout defense, the Indians (2-2) knocked off their Northside rival in a key game between 3A teams.
Hoffman rushed for 174 yards on 28 carries. He followed his blockers well on a 17-yard touchdown run for the go-ahead score with 2:50 remaining.
NC took a 10-0 lead into halftime. After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians scored when Hoffman tossed a 20-yard pass to Austin Trumpour, who got behind the Highlanders’ secondary.
Brad Pelton added a 36-yard field goal with 7:16 to go before intermission.
Shadle (0-4) appeared as if it might wrest some momentum on the opening kickoff of the third quarter when Drew Before returned the kick 94 yards for a TD.
But the Highlanders sputtered from that point on like they did in the first half.
NC secured the victory with an interception when Shadle couldn’t convert on fourth-and-13 from its 48-yard line.
Hoffman completed 9 of 18 passes for 95 yards and a TD.