The Lewis and Clark/Gonzaga Prep football matchup Friday showed exactly why many believe the Greater Spokane League is as balanced as ever.
At least for a half.
The two 4A heavyweights, who will challenge for the league’s two 4A play-in berths, went toe to toe in the first half before Gonzaga Prep pulled away in the second half, 49-30, at Joe Albi Stadium.
G-Prep scored seven of the game’s last 10 touchdowns including four straight in one stretch as the Bullpups wrested control in the second half.
“Our offense started rolling,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said. “We’re very effective and we can move the football. And our defense is going to feed off of that. Our offense put us in a hole early, but after that we responded.”
For a half, though, the teams waged a generally even battle.
LC struck first and quickly, opening a 10-0 lead thanks to a Matt Martin 25-yard field goal and a 16-yard touchdown scamper by Coleton Fitzgerald.
G-Prep, which had barely been on the field, scored on just its fourth offensive play when, brace yourselves, Bullpups quarterback Zach Bonneau threw a 27-yard TD pass to Jordan Rathbone.
Moments later, G-Prep defensive back Trevor Cote intercepted a pass, giving the Bullpups the ball at LC’s 37-yard line.
Three players later, Bonneau executed a great fake as he handed off to Griffen Hare, who sprinted 39 yards to give G-Prep a 14-10 lead with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
LC answered, driving 80 yards in 18 plays before Cheyenne Dotson scored from 2 yards out. The point-after kick caromed off the right upright and LC had a 16-14 lead with 6:22 to go before halftime.
G-Prep proceeded to chew up some time of its own, driving 15 plays and 80 yards to take a 21-16 lead with 15 seconds to go before halftime when Tom Davis went outside from a yard out for a TD.
The final two periods, though, belonged to G-Prep. With the ability to strike fast or sustain drives, the Bullpups didn’t let the Tigers up for air. And given opportunities on defense, G-Prep took advantage.
Case in point was the 50-yard interception return by nose guard Alex Shapori, who benefitted from pressure from cornerback Sam Dowd. The TD extended the Bullpups’ lead to 42-16 with 40 seconds to go in the third.
LC couldn’t slow down G-Prep’s option attack. Bonneau rushed 20 times for 160 yards and Hare added 156 on attempts.
“Every week you’re going to have to fight in this league,” McKenna said. “Everybody is better this year. Hopefully our kids know that. We tell our kids all the time they can be great. They need to believe they can be great and practice every day that way.”