When Gonzaga Prep beat Lewis and Clark 21-20 on Thursday night, the Bullpups secured one of the Greater Spokane League’s two bids to the District 8 Week 10 playoffs against the Mid-Columbia Conference.
That meant Friday’s showdown between Mead and Ferris at Albi Stadium became an elimination game between teams with one loss apiece in league play.
Nick Terrill carried 21 times for 95 yards with two touchdowns, Evan Wiersma had 141 yards receiving on six catches with a 55-yard catch-and-run TD, and the Panthers beat the Saxons 21-16 to earn a piece of the GSL championship and qualify for postseason play.
By virtue of G-Prep’s win over Mead earlier this season, the Bullpups will host Hanford (6-3) next week. Mead (7-2, 4-1) will travel to Pasco to face Chiawana (8-1) at Edgar Brown Stadium.
“It’s the best feeling I could imagine right now,” Mead quarterback Ryan Blair said. “We pretty much came in here thinking that it was going to be do or die the whole time.”
Blair finished 11 of 18 for 198 yards.
“I mean, we all knew what was at stake,” Mead coach Benji Sonnichsen said. “You lose, you’re done. You win and you go on. What else was sweet was us getting a piece of the league championship. Our school won nine in its history and this is No. 10 and we share it with Prep. We’ll take it.”
It wasn’t sealed until defensive tackle Braedon York came up with sacks on consecutive plays late in the game with Ferris (7-2, 3-2) challenging.
“That’s what happens in these games,” Sonnichsen said. “Big-time players make big-time plays in big games, and York came up with a big one that we needed.”
“I just got to go in, do my job,” York said. “And I have to trust my teammates to do their job with me.”
In the first quarter, Wiersma returned a punt to the Ferris 43 and a third-down 10-yard pass from Blair to Wiersma put the ball at the Saxons’ 14. On third-and-goal from the 1, Terrill put his head down and barreled into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 1:23 left in the first.
On the next drive, Ferris’ Jack Clavel put one in the back corner of the end zone where Casey Hocking made an over-the-shoulder catch for a 21-yard touchdown reception to tie it with 10:33 left in the half.
After a Mead fumble, Ferris had first-and-goal at the 6, but a holding call pushed the Saxons back. They had to settle for Mason Backlund’s 22-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with 3:27 left in the half.
Terrill went up the middle for 20 yards and Blair found Liam Dyck for 30 yards down to the Ferris 10. On the next play, Terrill plowed into the end zone with 50 seconds left to put the Panthers up 14-10.
On the second play of the second half, Blair went up top and hit Wiersma in stride for a 55-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 21-10.
“My guy Evan, he’ll just come down with it. That’s all I know,” Blair said. “So I’ve just got to give him huge credit for going up and getting it.”
Ferris’ Brent Jones muffed a punt but fell on it at the Saxons’ 19. Two plays later, Clavel used play-action and found a wide-open Hocking, who gathered the deep ball and outran defenders 80 yards for a TD.
The two-point conversion failed and Ferris trailed 21-16 near the end of the third.
Late in the fourth, Ferris’ Zack Fleming made a diving catch on a deep post for a 43-yard gain to get to the Mead 20, then Jones carried for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 at the 11.
On third-and-goal at the 3, Ferris was called for holding on a would-be TD run by Jones, which pushed the Saxons back to the 11. York sacked Clavel back to the 16. On fourth-and-goal, Clavel was hauled down again by York and others to preserve the Panthers’ lead with 3:29 left.
Jones finished with 193 yards on 22 carries for the Saxons. Clavel went 7 of 17 for 164 yards.