The first three possessions that ended with interceptions proved ominous in a Greater Spokane League football finale between University and North Central.
It was a downright spooky game in which the Titans, despite themselves, scored late and hung on for a 21-14 victory and heartbroken end for the Indians following a spirited two-way effort.
To put this bizarre contest in perspective, by intermission the Titans had managed just three first downs (to the Indians’ seven), but punted only once and led 7-0.
University was outgained and outplayed, but won largely because North Central (1-8) players fumbled seven times, losing two, and were intercepted three times.
University (5-4) scored the winning touchdown on a 45-yard Jeff Beaty-to-Nathan Hundeby pass with 1 minute, 34 seconds left to play in the game.
Undeterred, Indians quarterback Quinn Zerba connected with Jake Hoffman for 55 yards down to the Titans 20 with less than a minute left. But Hoffman fumbled and the Titans survived.
U-Hi led in the second quarter by completing a 1-yard “drive” following a bad punt snap. NC controlled the third quarter and knotted the game. But the lead was short-lived as U-Hi’s Collin Deyarmin’s long interception return early in the fourth quarter made it 14-7.
Zerba passed NC to a tie, including a 33-yard strike to Jordan Wertman, who had 93 receiving yards and a touchdown in the second half. A minute later, U-Hi’s nightmare was over.
“We didn’t come out and execute,” Titans coach Rob Bartlett said.
“We came out flat and they came out and played hard. They played with a lot of intensity.”
Maybe his players were looking past NC to the playoffs, Bartlett said, but they found out they couldn’t rush against the Indians’ front and the secondary took away U-Hi’s passing game as well.
“This was our best game,” said Indians coach Brian Gardner. “We played really well.”
The goal was to play one good quarter, then two, then three. Friday night, Gardner said, they played a complete game.
“A couple key mistakes, but I was proud of the boys,” Gardner said. “They played hard, they fought the whole way. They played really well.”
The Indians outgained the Titans 390-227 yards. But the untimely turnovers proved insurmountable.