BREWSTER – Playing outstanding defense for one half wasn’t enough to save Tonasket’s Caribou Trail League football opener on Friday, Sept. 20.
The Tigers, playing a fired up Brewster squad celebrating its homecoming, didn’t match the Bears’ energy or focus in the first half while falling behind 21-7.
An inspired defensive performance kept Brewster pinned back on its end of the field for the entire second half – the Bears’ only plays on Tonasket’s side of the 50 came after the Tigers turned the ball over on downs in the final minute of play – but the Tigers were never able to get untracked offensively.
Tonasket’s inability to dig out of a deep hole led to the Bears’ first touchdown. A Brewster punt pinned the Tigers back on their own 2-yard line, and when the Tigers eventually punted from their own end zone, Brewster took possession at the Tonsket 28-yard line.
Hayden Bayha’s 25-yard run set up Raf Varelas’ first touchdown of the game, a 2-yard plunge with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
Tonasket tied the game on Michael Orozco’s cut-back 69-yard run early in the second quarter, but that one play accounted for nearly half of the Tigers’ offense for the whole night.
It appeared as the Tonasket was poised to take the lead after Trevor Terris hit Roberto Juarez for a 50-yard pass that put the ball inside Brewster’s 25-yard line. But that play was erased by a penalty and swung the momentum Brewster’s way for the rest of the half.
Varelas capped a 49-yard, four-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. Brewster made it 21-y with a on a 3-yard pass from Mitch Boesel to Raul Olvera with 25.7 seconds left in the half that was set up by a 33-yard pass play on 3rd-and-7 from Boesel to Cade Smith.
The Tiger defense repeatedly pressured Boesel in the second half as Collin Aitcheson, Jacob Cory and Austin Knowlton repeatedly disrupted the Bears’ offense. But the Tigers were unable to recover any of the three Bears’ fumbles in the half. Orozco’s leaping interception of a Boesel pass also went for naught as the Tigers were unable to gain a first down on their ensuing possession.
Tonasket edged out Brewster in hard-earned yardage in the defensive stalemate of a second half, 75-71.
Orozco led the Tigers with 119 yards rushing on 20 carries. Terris completed 4-of-14 passes for 44 yards, with Juarez catching two balls for 27 yards (as well as the 50-yarder that was wiped out by penalty).
The Tigers (2-1, 0-1 Caribou Trail League) continue their run of four straight road games Friday, Sept. 27, at unbeaten Okanogan, which knocked off Chelan on Friday despite playing without injured quarterback Clay Ashworth.