The difference between West Valley continuing on in State 2A football postseason – or its season ending – literally came down to a matter of inches.
The Eagles trailed Ellensburg 6-0 entering the fourth quarter with excellent field position. They proceeded to march downfield, earning a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
Three plays later – all quarterback sneaks by quarterback Matt Allen – the football sat an inch away from the goal and the Eagles were sent to their locker room undone by the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown.
The score came with 16 seconds remaining in the first half. A 55-yard march was keyed by quarterback Brady Helgeson’s two pass completions to running back Riley Seed, covering a total 33 yards, and culminated by Seed’s 7-yard touchdown reception.
“We got caught in man coverage and the (two defenders) each thought they had the tight end,” Eagles coach Craig Whitney said.
But that’s no knock on the WV defenders, led by linebacker Marshall Meleney. They held Ellensburg to fewer than 200 yards of total offense and stopped the Bulldogs on fourth down five times.
“I thought our defense played really good,” Whitney said. “They put us in position to win the game. We just couldn’t make plays.”
Ellensburg defenders were just as stout. Matt Allen ran 35 yards on fake punt and also completed a 45-yard pass down to the Ellensburg 10, but West Valley couldn’t capitalize on either.
The Eagles were held to 45 yards of offense in the first half but gained 200 in the second half. They frittered away opportunities – a blocked field goal, a dropped pass in the end zone, a lost fumble on the Ellensburg 33 and, ultimately, the goal-line stand that preserved Ellensburg’s shutout.