When you get right down to it, Northwest Christian football coach Jim Nendel said, his young team had only ever played one close game.
So when fortune turned against the Crusaders and they needed to find a way to pull out the biggest win in the program’s three-year history Friday night at West Valley High, they turned to the only thing they knew.
After leading Asotin 24-6 at halftime and taking a 27-14 lead into the final quarter, Northwest Christian drove 80 yards in the final 30.2 seconds with Joey Biel’s 31-yard field goal sending the Crusaders into next week’s State 2B semifinals with a 33-32 win over the Panthers.
“I’ve always played offense and defense as well as kicking,” said Biel, who kicked four field goals. “I think it actually helps me to have to concentrate on having to play the game and not just think about kicking.”
When the time came, however, he was cool and confident.
“Joey is always kicking after practice with me holding,” quarterback David Olds said. “It was just like in practice.
“That’s the way this team is: We have a lot of confidence in each other. We just concentrated on what we had to do.
Asotin quarterback Blake Magnuson put the Panthers on the scoreboard first, taking the opening kick and driving for a touchdown – keeping the ball on a naked bootleg the final 10 yards to make it 6-0 after the Crusaders got a hand on the point-after kick.
Biel kicked a 36-yard field goal to get the Crusaders on the board, 6-3 midway through the quarter and the team drove 98 yards for a touchdown on their next possession to make it 10-6.
On their third possession, they drove 85 yards for a score when Olds punched his way in on a keeper and pushed the score to 17-6, then 24-6 right before halftime.
Magnuson rallied Asotin in the second half, driving for a score after Olds threw an interception on Northwest Christian’s first play of the third quarter, taking on a 2-point conversion to make it a 10-point game, 24-14.
Biel kicked a 23-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 27-14, but Magnuson scored on a 4-yard keeper that made it 27-20, then fired a 23-yard touchdown pass to Braden Jagannath to make it 27-26.
Biel then kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 30-26, but the Crusaders couldn’t run the clock on their next possession and Magnuson had the Panthers back in the end zone with another TD pass to Jagannath for a 32-30 lead with 32.3 seconds left.