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Mt. Spokane finds traction in second half to pound out win over Bishop Blanchet

This time of year, coaches don’t much care how it gets done if their team advances.

With a berth to the State 3A tournament available on a cold, wet and snowy field at Albi Stadium on Saturday, Mt. Spokane and Bishop Blanchet combined for four turnovers, two blocked field goals, nine punts – one of which was botched and kicked on a bounce – and a combined 154 yards passing.

The Wildcats did a better job of adjusting and eventually found some traction – and points – in the second half, blocking out the frigid conditions with a punishing run game.

Brady Hill rushed 10 times for 100 yards, Jacob Adams added 84 yards with a long touchdown run and Mt. Spokane punched its ticket to the state playoffs round of 16 with a 23-14 win over Bishop Blanchet of Seattle, the Metro League-Sound Division champ.

Mt. Spokane will host Rainier Beach in a game on Friday or Saturday.

“We found a way at halftime to get things figured out and get it taken care of in the second half,” Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said.

Perhaps the cold and snowy weather affected the teams out of the gate. Mt. Spokane fumbled it away on its first possession, and Blanchet returned the favor, throwing an interception on its second drive.

“The weather was a little cold, I guess,” Cloer said. “The weather controlled us a little bit.

“But you always love playing at home, playing in front of your crowd and getting weather like this is great football weather.”

“It was tough on both sides of the ball,” Adams said.

The teams traded punts for the rest of the first quarter. After a short Mt. Spokane punt, Blanchet took over at its 47. Five plays later, Jack Maider took it in from the 6 for a 7-0 lead with just more than 10 minutes left in the half.

Blanchet tried an onside kick, but Mt. Spokane recovered at the 50 and worked it down the field to set up first down at the 15. But the drive stalled and the Wildcats settled for Cody McDonald’s 26-yard field goal.

Blanchet kept its next drive alive for 14 plays but came up empty.

The Wildcats took over at their 25 and moved quickly into field-goal range with 1 second left, but McDonald’s 45-yard attempt was blocked as time expired and they trailed 7-3 at the half.

Mt. Spokane received the second-half kick and took it out to the 24. The Wildcats marched 14 plays – including a 39-yard run on a fake punt from Brady Hill – and the drive culminated in Hill’s 2-yard TD pass to Tanner Brooks and a 9-7 lead.

A touchback put Blanchet at the 20, but the Braves went backward. An illegal touching foul put the ball at the 5 and a short punt gave Mt. Spokane the ball back at the Blanchet 25.

Hill hit Quentin Ayers for 18 yards down to the 2. On the next play, Jacobi Jagger plowed in for a touchdown and a 16-7 lead.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, Hill tried to throw across his body on a third-and-15.

The pass was tipped, and then picked off by Jake Freeman at the Wildcats’ 37.

Hill finished 10-of-20 passing for just 64 yards.

Four plays later, Maider scored on a reverse from 13 yards out and Blanchet cut its deficit to 16-14.

The Braves tried another onside kick. This time the tactic was successful and they took over at the Mt. Spokane 42. But two plays later Joey Riley looked downfield and overthrew, where Cole Hattenburg came up with an interception at the 29.

“All week we studied (video) … and we came out here and we knew what they would run before they ran it,” Adams said of the Wildcats’ defensive performance. “That really helped because everyone really studied hard.”

Mt. Spokane moved it out to the 44, then Adams found the corner with a sweep and went 56 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to put the Wildcats up 23-14 with 8:17 left in the game.

“We’ve got some size up front and we were able to get some bodies where we needed,” Cloer said. “(Bishop Blanchet) brings some pressure, brings some heat up front but we found some seams and were able to pop a couple there.”

The Braves fought to get back within field-goal range with just more than a minute to go, but Jarek Woodward’s 39-yard attempt was a line drive and blocked by a linebacker off the line of scrimmage. All Mt. Spokane had to do was take the victory formation twice to advance.

Tommy Gardner had 98 yards on six carries for Bishop Blanchet. Maider finished with 37 yards on 11 carries and Riley went 10 of 20 for 90 yards with two interceptions.