University football coach Bill Diedrick’s dilemma coming into the season was where to play senior Zach Bruce on offense.
Diedrick considers Bruce one of the Titans’ better receivers. However, University had a need at running back.
It appears that Diedrick made the right decision. Bruce rushed 29 times for 177 yards to go with two interceptions from his strong safety position as the Titans topped the Mt. Spokane Wildcats 31-28 in a key 3A faceoff in Greater Spokane League action Thursday at Joe Albi Stadium.
Bruce did exactly what a good running back should, too, when he shared the credit with his offensive linemen, who opened big hole after big hole.
“All of the credit goes to them,” Bruce said. “I mean all the credit. They got to the linebackers and opened the holes.”
U-Hi (2-3) took a 31-21 lead with 10:45 to go when Bruce zipped 28 yards up the gut.
Then Bruce got his second interception at the Titans’ 7-yard line, thwarting a Mt. Spokane scoring threat, giving U-Hi the ball with 8:09 remaining.
After forcing U-Hi to punt, Mt. Spokane started with good field position at the Titans’ 40. Seven plays later, Chase Naccarato scored from 2 yards out to pull the Wildcats (1-4) within the final margin with 4 minutes remaining.
Mt. Spokane attempted an onside kick, but U-Hi’s Deandra Solomon recovered at the 35.
U-Hi proceeded to run out the clock.
“This is very big in a lot of ways,” Diedrick said. “One, you come back and beat a team that you’ve played close for a couple of years but you haven’t been able to get over the hump. The other thing is we came out of a pretty tough first four games. Now we’re into what we call the drive for the playoff season.”
Diedrick praised Bruce.
“Outstanding effort,” Diedrick said. “The thing that’s probably unfortunate is he’s probably the best receiver on the team. But he’s having a great year at running back.”
Naccarato led Mt. Spokane with 145 yards on 21 carries and two TDs.
It was a game of momentum shifts.
In the first half, U-Hi had the momentum in the first quarter and Mt. Spokane had it in the second.
Trevor Martin kicked a 28-yard field goal to open the scoring for the Titans at the 9:26 mark of the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, U-Hi’s Kyle Bush recovered a fumble at the Wildcats’ 29-yard line. Six plays later, Bush hauled in a 6-yard swing pass from Conner Johnson to extend U-Hi’s lead to 10-0.
After both teams exchanged possessions, Mt. Spokane got untracked thanks to a U-Hi drive that stalled at the Wildcats’ 47 after a fake punt.
Naccarato broke a tackle, sprinting 23 yards as Mt. Spokane scored its first TD with 4:08 to go before halftime.
Then after a three-and-out by the Titans, the Wildcats moved 82 yards on eight plays when slotback Tyler Green took a handoff and threw to quarterback Skyler Davis, who was wide open, for a 43-yard TD to put Mt. Spokane ahead 14-10 with 57 seconds to go in the second.
U-Hi marched quickly on offense, moving to Mt. Spokane’s 19-yard line with 7 seconds remaining. A draw play went nowhere, and with 2 ticks showing on the clock a 36-yard field-goal attempt by Martin was just wide as time expired.
U-Hi QB Conner Johnson completed 18 of 29 passes for 243 yards and two TDs.
Gonzaga Prep 59, Rogers 12: The Bullpups (3-2) rushed for 235 yards, cruising to the victory in the opener at Albi Stadium.
Six different Bullpups scored touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Bonneau scored on a 54-yard run, finishing with a team-high 93 yards on eight carries.
Backup quarterback Zach Grenz threw two TD passes, both to Ryan Gregory. The first covered 78 yards and the second went for 17.
Chris Szamblem returned an interception 32 yards for another TD.
For a second week the Pirates (0-5) played without leading rusher Luke Rogers. Anthony Hampton led Rogers with 70 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
Rogers QB Matt Durant threw a 41-yard TD pass to Nick Kaley.