In high school football, it often benefits a team if it has a short memory.
A week after watching its chance at the Greater Spokane League title and a top postseason seed thwarted, Gonzaga Prep decided there was still much to play for Friday.
Behind the one-two punch attack of running backs Jack Bamis and Sam Dowd and an opportunistic defense, the Bullpups captured a 4A postseason berth with a convincing 49-27 win over visiting Central Valley.
G-Prep (7-2) travels to Chiawana of Pasco (8-1) next Friday for a play-in game. CV (5-4) treks to Walla Walla (5-4) in a season-ending crossover game. Both contests kick off at 7.
The simple difference and perhaps most telling statistic was turnovers. In a scoreless first quarter, the Bears had two interceptions and finished with four turnovers to the Bullpups’ none.
The biggest contributors offensively for the Bullpups were Bamis and Dowd – G-Prep’s version of Thunder and Lightning.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Bamis packs the punch, while the 5-8, 165 Dowd is the water bug. They each scored three rushing touchdowns as Bamis led with 164 yards on 18 carries and Dowd had 83 on 11. Dowd scored a fourth TD on a 42-yard fumble return.
“We’re a one-two punch,” Dowd said. “Jack does his thing – boom, boom, boom. He has a big run and I’ll rest him up.”
Dowd, a starter all season at cornerback, started seeing more time at running back midway through the season because of injuries.
“They are Thunder and Lightning,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said. “And they both work extremely hard. They’re both great team players and I guarantee you they’ll both say their linemen do a great job.”
The teams played to a scoreless tie in the first quarter, but in a blink of an eye the Bullpups scored four touchdowns for a 28-0 lead with 3:24 to go before halftime.
The Bears finally steadied themselves on the final possession of the first half. They used 14 plays to drive 69 yards, with quarterback Adam Chamberlain hitting Tucker Stout on a 12-yard scoring pass with 5 seconds to go before intermission.
CV stopped G-Prep on the opening series of the second half, and the Bears responded with another well-executed drive. On fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Chamberlain rolled right and powered his way into the end zone, pulling the Bears within 28-14 with 3:40 to go in the period.
The Bullpups took back the momentum on their next possession when Dowd slipped through a tiny hole for a 4-yard TD, extending the lead to 35-14 early in the fourth quarter.
G-Prep matched its 28-0 start with a 49-21 lead with 4:58 remaining.
The Bullpups had quite the bounce back after falling 45-35 to Mt. Spokane last week.
“We got on the bus (after losing to Mt. Spokane) and people started strategizing for CV,” Dowd said. “We wanted to come out and win this game because it’s a great feeling to be in the playoffs.”
McKenna expected his Bullpups, league champs a year ago, to rebound Friday.
“We told our seniors it’s your team and they stepped up and rallied,” McKenna said.
McKenna was surprised by the 28-0 start.
“Offensively we have some weapons, we just have to utilize them,” he said.