Tiger Football dominate first half, Chelan ralies for win

Tonasket junior running back Keegan McCormick rushing past Chelan defenders as his fellow tigers block for him. Also shown are offensive linemen senior Lucio Maldonado, #53 and junior Zach Neal, #70.

Tonasket junior running back Keegan McCormick rushing past Chelan defenders as his fellow tigers block for him. Also shown are offensive linemen senior Lucio Maldonado, #53 and junior Zach Neal, #70.

CHELAN – For the first half of Tonasket’s football game against Chelan, it seemed the Tigers were in for a victory on the road, but mistakes in the third quarter and a hard-hitting Chelan team led to a Chelan 16-14 victory instead.

The game started off on a very defensive note from both sides of the field. Neither team score in the first quarter and in fact, neither team was able to break past the 50-yard line into the other’s territory, either.

The second quarter began with Chelan in possession. Group rushing plays down the center of the field brought the Goats to their own 47-yard line, but they were unable to get a first down and kicked the ball back to the Tigers.

Junior running back Keegan McCormick rushed the ball to the Chelan 36-yard line. From there, senior quarterback Wade Detillian connected with junior wide receiver Tyler Laurie for a 16-yard pass. On the next Tiger play, Detillian connected with senior wide receiver Damon Sprague for a 19-yard touchdown pass. With McCormick’s extra point kick, the Tigers led in scoring with 7:18 left in the first half. With the Goats unable to score, the game went into halftime with the Tigers ahead, 7-0.

“I think we played amazing in the first half,” Sprague said. ‘We played hard on both sides of the ball.”

Detillian agreed, stating that everyone was playing with high intensity.

“We played a really solid first half,” Jay Hawkins, Tonasket head coach, said. “The game went as I envisioned it would go. I thought we were matched up pretty equally with them in terms of the styles we play with.”

The third quarter of the game was an entirely different story. The Goats began the quarter with possession on their own 38-yard line. A holding penalty took them back to the 34-yard line from their 46. The Goats rushed back to their own 43-yard line before a pass from junior quarterback Evan Reister was intercepted by Laurie, who then ran the Tigers to the Chelan 41-yard line.

The Tigers were able to rush down to the Chelan 40-yard line but a penalty took them back to the 50-yard line. Detillian connected with Laurie to the 39-yard line. On the next Tiger play, pressure from Chelan forced Detillian into passing and he connected with senior offensive lineman Tom Peery, but since he was an illegal receiver, the Tigers were sent back to the Chelan 44-yard line on fourth down.

A late-hit penalty on the Tigers on Chelan’s next play took the Goats to the Tiger 49-yard line. Rushing plays from the Goats took them down to the Tiger 27-yard line. On fourth down, Reister connected with junior wide receiver Aaron McQuaid for a 24-yard pass to the 2-yard line. From there, sophomore running back Cole Schwartz rushed into the end zone for the first Chelan touchdown with 5:12 left in the third quarter. The extra kick attempt from junior Jose Ramirez was blocked, making the score 7-6.

Chelan kicked off to Tonasket sophomore running back John Stedtfeld who got the Tigers to their own 24-yard line. On the first play of this drive, Detillian pitched the ball to McCormick, who then fumbled it and Chelan recovered possession with 4:59 left in the third quarter on the Tonasket 24-yard line. A penalty on Tonasket took the Goats to the 14-yard line. Two plays later, sophomore defensive back Matt Peterson made a nine-yard touchdown run. Reister connected with McQuaid for the two-point conversion, making the score 14-7 with 3:18 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers began their next drive on their own 18-yard line. Senior running back Andrew Grillo rushed one yard but on the next play, Detillian fumbled the snap. Unable to get a hold on the ball, he chased it down into the end zone, where he fell on it, giving Chelan a safety and increasing the score to 16-7.

“In the third quarter, I think Chelan came out, dug down deep, came down and got the upper hand on us,” Detillian said.

Sprague said he thought the Tigers thought the second half was going to be easy, based on how the first half went, but that Chelan came out and showed Tonasket they could play better than they had been.

“There was a momentum swing in the third quarter and obviously we made a couple of key mistakes,” Hawkins said. “We had a fumble that they turned into a touchdown and then Wade unfortunately fumbled the snap and it went into the end zone. Chelan scored all 16 points in about three and a half minutes in the third quarter.”

The Tigers began the fourth quarter in possession of the ball on their own 28-yard line. Rushing plays from McCormick took Tonasket to the Chelan 49-yard line. Detillian then connected with Laurie to the 38-yard line and again two plays later to the 25-yard line. A pass from McCormick to Laurie brought the Tigers to the 17-yard line, McCormick rushed to the 12 and Detillian connected with Sprague to the 2-yard line. From there, McCormick rushed in a one-yard touchdown pass. He kicked in the extra point and the score was 16-14 with 6:56 left in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers recovered a Chelan fumble with 2:53 left in the game, but were unable to complete their final drive to the end zone when McQuaid intercepted a pass from Detillian at the 50-yard line.

“I thought we really hung in there and had a chance to win it,” Hawkins said. “I thought we stayed together and were able to get back into the game, which was a good lesson for us to learn. I’m sure we’ll be able to use it down the road.”

Tonasket completed 13 of 21 passes for 132 yards while Chelan completed two of five for 42 yards. On rushing, Tonasket’s net gain was 70 yards and Chelan racked up 226 yards. McCormick carried the ball 22 times for a net gain of 91 yards and Grillo carried six times for 20 yards.

“It was a really physical game and the more I watch the tape, the more I see that,” Hawkins said. “There were a lot of really good performances on both sides and both teams played at a very high level for being this early in the season.”

Darren Talley, the Chelan head coach, said this was one of the hardest hitting games he’s seen in four years.

“Nick Snyder, our defensive coordinator, had a great game plan to stop a potent Tonasket offense led by a great Keegan McCormick at tailback,” Talley said. “Our defense holding Keegan and his powerful legs to 96 yards rushing on the night was amazing.”

The Tigers (0-1, 1-1) hit the road again Friday, Sept. 25, as they travel to Leavenworth to play against Cascade at 7 p.m.

“We’re going to have to make sure we have a good week of preparation and show some maturity being on the road two weeks in a row,” Hawkins said. “I’m really happy with how our team’s playing. I told the kids that this is a really strong football league and they’re going to have to play at a really high level to be successful.”