Davian Barlow wasn’t so much making up for lost time as he was picking up where he left off.
Playing for the first time in four weeks, the Mead senior running back scored four touchdowns, two coming in the final 5 minutes, as the seventh-ranked Panthers held off the Ferris Saxons 34-19 Thursday at Joe Albi Stadium to earn the Greater Spokane League’s second 4A postseason football berth.
When Barlow left in the first quarter of a loss to eventual league champ Gonzaga Prep earlier this month, he was the leading rusher in the league. He was third going into the final week, but as far as he’s concerned it doesn’t matter.
He and his teammates are heading to the postseason for a second straight season.
Mead (8-1) will travel to either Richland or Chiawana next Friday in a play-in game.
Barlow, who missed the last three games with a high left ankle sprain, came out for a play after Ferris had pulled within 20-19, and it appeared he may have reinjured his ankle.
He trotted back out and on the next play dashed 10 yards for his third TD that gave Mead a 27-19 lead with just less than 5 minutes remaining.
Then after Mead safety Gunnar Kayser picked off a pass, the Panthers were in business at the Saxons’ 21-yard line with 3:28 to go.
Barlow carried three straight times, scoring from 3 yards out for his final TD with 2:33 remaining. He finished with 143 yards on 24 carries.
“I just wanted to come out here and do my thing,” Barlow said. “As I’ve said before I can’t do my thing without those offensive linemen. Late in the game something clicked with them and they just got their motors rolling. They just got down in the trenches and became hog mollies. They told me if I could stay on my feet I’d get in the end zone.”
Mead opened a 20-0 lead in the first half, and it appeared the Panthers would roll from there.
The shutout was wiped out on one play when on the Saxons’ final offensive play in the first half quarterback Christian Olson hit Cole Karstetter on fourth-and-10 for a 41-yard TD with 26 seconds to go before halftime.
Mead had its way most of the first half. Still, the game could have been tighter had Ferris converted two other drives that stalled after getting into the red zone.
Ferris scored on its first possession of the second half. Then the Saxons threw a scare at Mead when Karstetter scored his third TD on the second play of the fourth. The point-after kick was botched when Olson, the holder, couldn’t handle a low snap.
That left Mead clinging to a 20-19 lead with 11:19 to go.
The Panthers put together a solid drive, marching 12 plays and 80 yards before Barlow scored on a 10-yard run.
The momentum Ferris had was suddenly stolen away by Mead.
“Those guys were tough,” Mead coach Sean Carty said. “Always have been, always will be. There’s never going to be a game in this city that isn’t tough – especially when the stakes are so high.”
Barlow, too, had high praise for Ferris (6-3).
“(Ferris) had heart,” Barlow said. “They were very well-coached. (Ferris coach) Jim Sharkey … I’ll always give him praise. He’s an amazing coach. I’ve loved what he’s done with his program. He had his team ready to go. Fortunately, we got it done late in the game.”