KETTLE FALLS – The Tigers overcame a low scoring game in a defensive matchup against Kettle Falls to win 12-6 in overtime on Friday, Sept. 10.
The only first quarter score came from senior running back Keegan McCormick on a one-yard run with about seven minutes left in the quarter. The extra point kick attempt from sophomore Jeff Stedtfeld failed. The only score from the Bulldogs came in the second quarter from senior quarterback Luke Coots, also on a one-yard run, with 2:51 left in the first half. The two-point conversion attempt was no good.
With no scoring in the second half, the game was fought out defensively on both sides, leading to the Kansas City tiebreaker in overtime. The Tigers began overtime with the first possession and scored on a two-yard run from junior quarterback John Stedtfeld, but the two-point conversion was no good.
On Kettle Falls’ possession, the Bulldogs came close to the goal-line but a fumble, caused by Tonasket defensive backs senior Ty Thornton and junior Kevin Aitcheson, was recovered by Tonasket senior defensive back Corbin Moser in the end zone, ending the game and giving the Tigers the victory.
“It was certainly an exciting game and it went well for us in the end,” Head Coach Jay Hawkins said. “We talked about mental toughness and trusting each other and those became very important in overcoming the mistakes we made. The team handled the stress of overtime well. They were trying to build each other up and having a close game like that is certainly an experience we can use later on down the line, hopefully to our advantage. Quite a few people have never really watched an overtime game or played in one so there was some confusion when we recovered the fumble before people realized we’d won. We spend a couple of hours together every day and to spend those 15 seconds jumping up and down together celebrating was a lot of fun.”
In response to how difficult the game turned out to be for the Tigers, Hawkins said anytime a team goes on the road, it’s always difficult to play after a couple hours bus trip.
“Kettle Falls played a lot better than they did against Omak the week before,” he added.
Senior running back and linebacker Tyler Laurie said he thought the Tigers started off very slowly and the Bulldogs were outplaying them.
“Toward the end of the fourth quarter, a couple of good things happened and we finally started building off them,” he said. “We pulled together as a team and we did excellent in overtime; we never quit.”
Junior quarterback Dylan Fewkes agreed that the team started off playing slowly but said he thought the Tigers’ new offensive strategy of switching quarterbacks helped.
“Switching quarterbacks really increases our versatility and between the different things we can do, overall it really improves the team and makes it harder for the other teams to prepare for us,” Fewkes said.
Leading rushers for the Tigers were McCormick, who gained 92 yards on 20 carries, John Stedtfeld, who gained 34 yards on nine carries and senior running back Dustin Silverthorn, who gained 19 yards on five carries. The Bulldogs’ top rushers were senior running back Mike Larsen, who scored 112 yards on 25 carries, senior running back Zac Brock, who gained 36 yards on eight carries and Coots, who gained 32 yards on 10 carries.
Leading the passing stats for the Tigers was John Stedtfeld, who completed two of three passes for 34 yards while Fewkes completed four of 13 yards for 30 yards. Coots completed four of eight passes for 59 yards for the Bulldogs.
The Tigers play their first home game of the season against Chewelah on Friday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. and Hawkins said hopefully the team will be more aggressive.
“We weren’t consistently aggressive in every play against Kettle Falls and we’re certainly going to have to be against Chewelah,” he said. “Chewelah will probably be the biggest team we’ll face all year, size-wise, but we’re ready for another test.”