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WRHS FOOTBALL: Saints sneak by White River for state berth
A turnaround football season came to an abrupt end Friday for White River.
Hosting the first round of postseason play, White River fell 20-13 to Interlake on a chilly night in Buckley.
Eventually, the players and coaching staff will recall a successful season in which the Hornets tied for the South Puget Sound League 2A title, just one year removed from a disastrous 1-9 campaign.
For now, though, all in the program will feel the sting of opportunities lost and the disappointment that accompanies a belief that the 2011 campaign ended sooner than it should have.
“Offensively, we played well enough to win; defensively, we played well enough to win,” second-year coach Joe Sprouse said. “We just came up a little bit short.”
The contest featured more than its share of late-in-the-game intrigue.
With Interlake leading 14-13, the Hornets turned the ball over on downs. After using a final timeout and facing sure defeat, Sprouse ordered his defense to let the Saints score – thus giving his offense its only opportunity to snare a dramatic victory. Interlake’s Jordan Todd went 23 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 20-13 lead and things only got more exciting when White River blocked the extra-point try.
Getting the ball back with 1 minute, 49 seconds to play, the Hornets gave their fans reason to cheer. Starting on their own 21, quarterback Zach McMillen and his troops moved to the Interlake 34, thanks to three completed passes and a personal foul whistled against the Saints.
The excitement was short-lived, as Interlake defensive back Jacob Marks picked off a McMillen pass to assure the Saints’ victory.
White River enjoyed an early lead when Mark Monteiro took off on a 39-yard scoring jaunt on the Hornets’ second possession. Tyler Worthen, who enjoyed a record-setting season in the PAT department, tacked on the extra point to give White River a 7-0 advantage.
The bulk of the game’s scoring came during a span of less than 1 minute in the third quarter. After the Saints connected on a 26-yard pass play, the Hornets’ Josh Miller exploded for a 68-yard TD run. Worthen’s kick was blocked a development that proved huge later in the contest.
Interlake answered seconds later as Todd took the Hornet kickoff 80 yards for a score. The Saints’ Rigel Kuhn was good on his PAT try, pushing the score to 14-13 and setting up the late-game drama.
The Hornets ran the ball 29 times for 169 yards and McMillen completed 11 of 23 throws for 110 yards, giving White River 279 yards of total offense. Interlake wound up with 223 yards, 142 on the ground and 81 through the air.