Chieftains’ miscues lead to a pair of Black Hills touchdowns in the final minutes of the game
VANCOUVER — This one is going to sting for a while.
Columbia River gave up two touchdowns in the final 4:33 of the fourth quarter to lose 14-10 to Black Hills in a Class 2A state high school qualifier playoff football game Saturday at Kiggins Bowl.
The loss ends the Chieftains’ season a game away from the state playoffs.
“It hurts,’’ said Columbia River coach Christian Swain of his team’s heartbreaking defeat, which included surrendering the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds remaining in the game. “Give credit to Black Hills. They made some big plays down the stretch. I felt like we controlled most of the game but we had two turnovers in the fourth quarter that really hurt us and put our defense in bad spots and then we just didn’t get stops when we needed stops.’’
Columbia River, which finished the season with a 4-6 overall record, entered the postseason as the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League’s No. 2 seed, won by virtue of a tiebreaker victory over Woodland and Washougal just five days before the Chieftains played host to Black Hills from Olympia.
Columbia River led 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter and the Chieftains appeared to be successfully running down the clock and on their way to a gritty, defensive victory. However, their fortunes changed dramatically when Black Hills defensive back Kade Weitzel intercepted a Columbia River pass and returned it 70 yards to the Chieftains’ 8-yard line.
Black Hills rushed the football on four consecutive downs and the Wolves scored their first points on a fourth-down, 1-yard run by Zach Loveless with 4:33 remaining in the game. The extra point was good and River’s lead had been trimmed to just three points at 10-7.
The Chieftains took over possession of the football on their own 32-yard line. Quarterback Julian Garcia spun his way to a gain near midfield but he was stripped of the football and Taylor Simmons picked it up for Black Hills and returned it to Columbia River’s 40-yard line.
The Chieftains quickly made amends for that mistake, however, as Tristan Hoyer jumped high in the air to knock down a lateral pass by the Wolves on the very next play. Columbia River’s Austin Carter recovered the fumble. After a penalty on the Chieftains, Columbia River had possession of the football at the Black Hills 44-yard line with just over four minutes remaining to be played.
The Chieftains were unable to get a first down and were forced to punt, giving Black Hills possession of the football at the Wolves 30-yard line.
Nine plays later, Black Hills completed its game-winning, 70-yard drive when Weitzel scampered around the left end for the final nine yards to put the Wolves on top for the first time in the game with just 28 seconds remaining.
Columbia River had one final possession, but on its second pass attempt of the series Black Hills intercepted another Chieftains’ pass to seal the victory.
“We talked for the last few weeks about not having drops, penalties or turnovers,’’ Swain said. “Those are the things that hurt you. We had a little bit of everything. Our defense played well enough to overcome those for three-and-a-half quarters, but there at the end, it just wasn’t enough.’’
Neither team scored in the first half. Early in the third quarter, Columbia River created a fumble that was recovered by Logan Wilson to give the Chieftains the football at the Black Hills 39-yard line. Ten plays later, Garcia bulled his way into the endzone from 2-yards out and River led 7-0 after Hoyer’s extra point.
The Chieftains’ other score was set up by an interception by Kanen Eaton, who returned the football 14 yards to Black Hills 36-yard line. Five plays later, Hoyer booted a 35-yard field goal to give Columbia River a 10-0 lead with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Kyden Rauch also had a fumble recovery for the Chieftains, who seemed to make enough plays on defense to put themselves in a position to win.
“Our defense played stellar tonight, Swain said. “I was happy with the way the whole team played. We just had some individual plays that hurt us tonight. We managed the game, controlled the game, but we just had a couple of plays that killed us.’’
BLACK HILLS 14, COLUMBIA RIVER 10
Black Hills 0 0 0 14 — 14
Columbia River 0 0 10 0 — 10
CR — Julian Garcia, 2-yard run. (Tristan Hoyer kick)
CR — Tristan Hoyer, 35-yard field goal.
BH — Zach Loveless, 1-yard run. (Davide Levi kick)
BH — Kade Weitzler, 12-yard run. (Levi kick)
Rushing: Black Hills: Zach Loveless 5-19, Jordan Claridge 2-18, Taylor Simmons 11-5, Ethan Loveless 5-36, Kade Weitzler 5-3, Preston Lee 1-7, Jacob Briggs 1-2. Columbia River: Koben Jamison 12-39, Julian Garcia 16-75, Matthew Asplund 3-(-7), Isaac Bibb-O’Neill 3-(-6), Tristan Hoyer 1-(-3).
Passing: Black Hills: Ethan Loveless 11-20-1-153. Columbia River: Asplund 6-16-2-37, Garcia 1-2-1-3.
Receiving: Black Hills: Briggs 5-52, Weitzel 4-56, Wyatt Rollman 2-45. Columbia River: Jamison 1-3, Jack Armstrong 2-16, Logan Lindsey 2-8, Hoyer 2-13.