The football game between Ferris and North Central turned in a matter of 2 minutes late in the first half Friday.
NC’s Indians pulled within 14-12 before Ferris used a big play and a turnover to score 10 points for a comfortable cushion as the Saxons prevailed 31-12 in a Greater Spokane League game at Joe Albi Stadium.
The win allowed Ferris (4-1) to move into a tie for second with Mead and Central Valley.
After the flurry to finish the first half, Ferris’ defense took over in the final two quarters, shutting out the Indians (1-4), whose postseason hopes were dealt a blow.
The Saxons’ improvement can be linked somewhat to the progression of junior quarterback Christian Olson, who split time at the position on the junior varsity last year.
Olson passed for 199 yards, completing 17 of 24 attempts, with a 75-yard touchdown pass to speedy sophomore Jalen Hicks.
NC played Ferris even until the final 2 minutes of the first half.
In the space of 1:55, the Saxons scored a touchdown to go with a 24-yard field goal by Clayton Paull.
The Indians pulled within 14-12 when NC junior quarterback Jake Hoffman hit Quinn Zerba on an 8-yard TD pass. NC attempted to tie the score, but the two-point attempt failed.
On Ferris’ first play on the ensuing series, Hicks got past an NC cornerback and Olson dropped the ball to him in stride for the 75-yard TD connection that extended the lead to 21-12.
On NC’s next play, Paull intercepted Hoffman. It appeared Ferris would punch in another TD, but the Saxons faced a fourth-and-1 at NC’s 7-yard line. Ferris coach Jim Sharkey opted for the field goal attempt and Paull converted.
“Christian did a really good job of reading it,” Sharkey said of the long score. “NC is a one high safety team and he got the safety to move with his eyes and we had one on one (with Hicks). Christian has come a long ways in that respect. He made a great read and knew what he was going to do.”
Olson takes none of the credit.
“Coming into this year there was nothing really secured for me,” Olson said. “I had to work hard and (Coach) Sharkey gave me the chance to do what I love to do. I’m just trying to take advantage of it every game. Everything I do comes out of team. So if the team doesn’t progress I feel I didn’t progress myself. No matter what I do a ‘W’ is what I want. Stats aren’t anything to me.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Ferris used good field position to score a final TD.
Starting at NC’s 35-yard line, the Saxons scored in six plays capped by a 5-yard run by Gunnar Seefeld.
“They’re a pretty explosive team,” Sharkey said of NC. “They have some good athletes. We knew we had to play well.”
“This was a big jump for us,” Olson said. “The team is getting better every week.”
Hoffman moved into No. 10 all time in the league in total offense with his combined 172 yards passing and rushing. He has 3,995.