Enumclaw rallies late to defeat White River 22-13 | FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

The Mark Gunderson Era was launched in exciting fashion Friday night as the new Enumclaw High coach led his team to a 22-13 victory over the visitors from White River.

The Plateau foes squared off after a two-year hiatus, offering up a hard-fought contest in front of a big crowd to the Pete’s Pool facility. And while the game will never be remembered for its artistry, it provided fans plenty of drama.

Enumclaw had scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to tie the game at 13, giving White River the opportunity for some late-game excitement. But the Buckley Hornets quickly went three-and-out, thanks in large part to a quarterback sack by Enumclaw’s Chandler Streuli that left the ball on the 22-yard line.

On the punt attempt, the snap sailed high and into the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 15-13 Enumclaw lead with 3:20 to play.

Forced to kick off – and then committing a facemask infraction – White River gave EHS possession inside the 50 and Enumclaw capitalized. Keeping the  ball on the ground and forcing White River to burn its final timeouts, EHS used hard-working Cameron Strecker to grind away at the clock. Finally, Strecker broke through the White River defense and galloped for a 38-yard TD run.

Following the extra-point kick, which had been a troublesome exercise for both clubs, the home team had its final 22-13 margin of victory. All that remained was a crowd of students rushing the field and EHS claiming possession of the traveling trophy that belongs to the winner for the coming year.

White River held the upper hand during the game’s early stages, taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field for the season’s first touchdown. Running the ball effectively and getting a bit of a break – a fumble was recovered by Sean Hayes at the 1-year-line – White River scored on the next play on a run by Devin Liebel.

Dustin France added the PAT and things looked good for the Buckley squad.

Enumclaw answered on the final drive of the first half, putting together a 10-play drive that culminated with Bryson Grant hauling in a touchdown pass from Peter Nordby. David Pugh’s extra-point try was good, leaving the teams deadlocked heading into the fieldhouse locker rooms.

Enumclaw’s TD drive was helped out by two critical White River errors. EHS had been forced to punt, but White River fumbled the ball away, leaving the home team with possession on the 23-yard line. Moments later, on a fourth-down play, White River jumped early, bringing flags that game EHS an automatic first down.

White River took back the lead on its first possession of the second half, pulling out a trick play that netted six points. On a halfback pass, Colton Altamirano delivered a 19-yard pass than Hayes caught in the end zone. The extra-point try was blocked, leaving White River up 13-7.

Following two punts each, Enumclaw put together a long drive to tie the contest. Strecker was the workhorse as EHS march toward the end zone, but it was Maurico Portillo who did the final honors, scoring on a short run. Setting the stage for the final, dramatic moments, Enumclaw’s extra-point kick was blocked, leaving the score tied at 13.

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