Who would have thought that a Gonzaga Prep victory would come down to a pass play?
Facing fourth-and-7 from the Ferris 17-yard line, quarterback Kevin Thomas was patient, let the play develop and found wingback Nick Wood on an out pattern. Wood caught it short of the goal line and did the rest, escaping a would-be tackler for the go-ahead touchdown.
Ferris got the ball back with 45 seconds and moved to the Bullpups 22 where with 4 seconds left a 39-yard field-goal attempt by Matt Beaulaurier fell short of the crossbar by 2 yards as time expired, giving the defending Greater Spokane League champions an invigorating 38-35 win Friday over the visiting Saxons.
Some thought it would be a defensive slugfest between the two unbeaten teams. But it was far from that. Neither defense had much success stopping each other’s offense.
“These kids were resilient and that’s a very, very good football team,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said of Ferris. “We had a good week of practice and that’s what it’s about. You get better and prepare. At Mass today we talked about preparation. We said we’re going to be tested out here and there are going to be some unknowns and these kids responded to the unknowns.”
Second-ranked Ferris (2-1) played from a hole from the get-go. The Saxons fumbled the opening kickoff, and Wood ran 33 yards on G-Prep’s first play for a touchdown.
The teams combined for 491 yards total offense in the first half, going into halftime tied at 21.
Ferris running back Cole Karstetter led the way with 141 rushing on 20 attempts and three touchdowns in the first two quarters. He finished with a game-high 195 on 30 carries.
The Saxons seemed to take the momentum from the Bullpups when they scored on an 8-yard pass from quarterback Christian Olson to receiver Nate Buchkoski for a 35-28 lead with 1:52 to go in the third quarter.
G-Prep moved to the Ferris 9 but had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Jarred Kutsch to pull within 35-31 with 6:58 remaining.
Ferris had to punt on its next series.
The Bullpups picked up yards in chunks on their next possession. The Saxons defense stiffened, forcing a fourth-and-7 at the 17 to set up the dramatic winning play.
Thomas, who missed last season with a broken ankle suffered in summer camp, didn’t expect the play call.
“But the (offensive line) gave me time and Nick Wood did a good job getting open,” Thomas said. “When he gets the ball he’s dangerous.”
Thomas said the Bullpups won’t have much time to enjoy the win.
“This is a great win,” Thomas said. “It’s definitely one of the big games on the schedule. But now we have to get ready for Shadle Park starting tomorrow.”
The Saxons used their double-wing scheme almost exclusively in the second half.
“They couldn’t stop it,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said. “They didn’t stop it and we stopped ourselves by fumbling. And it kept them off the field. It came down to turnovers.”
G-Prep had three runners eclipse 100 yards. Jack Bamis led with 147 on 14 carries and Wood and Tom Davis each had 105. The Bullpups finished with 504 yards total offense.