Colville win gives Cheney outside shot at playoffs, but Hawks need win, some help
Junior quarterback Andrew Graham hasn’t done a lot of passing this season for his run-oriented Cheney team, and that held true Friday night in the regular-season finale with Colville.
But when Graham did throw he was pretty effective – completing five of 10 attempts but with four of those going for touchdowns in the Blackhawks 42-7 rout of the Indians on a cold, damp evening at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field. And as dominating as Cheney’s running game can be, going over 300 yards for the fourth time this season, their defense was equally so, limiting the Indians to just 5 yards on the ground and 125 overall.
“Holding them to five yards rushing is a pretty good night against a team that runs a lot,” head coach Jason Williams said.
Colville’s running strength was evident in the game’s opening possession as they drove about 70 yards for a score on Colton Vining’s 1-yard plunge. But that’s where the Indians highlight reel ended.
Cheney answered on its first possession, moving quickly from its 35 and tying the game on Graham’s 43-yard strike to Calvin Berstler. The Blackhawks made it 14-7 when Graham found Coleman White on a 9-yard TD pass with 1:17 in the quarter.
After a missed Cheney field goal, an exchange of possessions on punts and an interception of a Graham pass by Colville’s Zach Shoemaker, Graham struck again, hitting Eric Igbinoba on a crossing route over the middle that the senior wide receiver turned into a 53-yard TD completion just before the half.
In the third quarter Cheney put the game out of reach. Austin Kautzman took a toss right around the end and scampered 38 yards for a TD just 1:42 into the second half, and after a Cheney interception, Graham hit Igbinoba again, this time from 15 yards out making the score 35-7. After a Colville punt, senior Marquis Allen capped another Blackhawks drive with a 3-yard run for the game’s final points.
Cheney racked up 480 yards of total offense, 347 on the ground, with Kautzman again leading the way with 15 carries for 176 yards. As impressive as that was, the Cheney defense were just as effective, holding the Indians to 5 yards rushing, mostly through numerous tackles in the visitor’s backfield, led by senior Sam Pegg with seven stops.
The win moves Cheney to 3-2 in Great Northern League play, tied with East Valley and Deer Park, 5-4 overall. The Blackhawks can still earn the No. 2 playoff seed if a couple things happen: Cheney needs to beat Clarkston in the regular season finale tonight (Thursday) while East Valley, at home, defeats Deer Park.
That would leave Cheney, East Valley and West Valley, thanks to their 41-21 loss to league-leader Pullman, with 4-2 records and Cheney owning the tiebreaker with wins over both schools.
First though is Clarkston – at Clarkston where winning for Cheney teams is difficult. After losing five straight the Bantams (1-4, 3-6) are winners of two of the last three, their lone loss at Deer Park as the Stags scored 13 fourth-quarter points for the 34-21 win.
Clarkston’s game starts with senior quarterback Austin Hansen, who Williams said is more of a running than passing threat, and senior running back Colby Ruark, who ran over, through and around the Blackhawks last year for 281 yards and two touchdowns in their 25-21 win. When Hansen does take to the air, his favorite target is junior wide-out Carson Holman.
Defensively the Bantams like to play a traditional 4-3, but showed some different wrinkles against Deer Park, Williams said.
“We’ve got to win, and hope for a favor,” Williams said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.