Cheney downs West Valley 20-14 to stay in playoff hunt
Andrew Graham's two TDs spark Blackhawks rally in Millwood
Cheney quarterback Andrew Graham picks up yardage late in the Blackhawks' 20-14 overtime win last Friday at West Valley.
Thanks to a pair of late touchdowns by senior quarterback Andrew Graham, and a stout defense, the heart of Cheney's football playoff chances is still beating. Graham engineered a final drive in the fourth quarter to tie West Valley at 14, and plunged over from the 1 in overtime to help give Cheney a 20-14 win over the host Eagles.
West Valley took the lead on a Cole Yeager to Tevin Duke 25-yard scoring pass late in the fourth quarter. On the next series Graham hit Austin Kline on a 56-yard pass down to the Eagles 1.
Cheney went backwards on the next three plays, but on fourth down, Graham ran it in from the 5 to tie the game and sent it to overtime. The Eagles won the toss and elected to have Cheney receive the ball first, and the Blackhawks made the most of it, with Graham hitting Josh Martin on a 24-yard pass play to the 1.
Graham plunged in from there, losing his helmet in the process, to put Cheney up 20-14 after the missed extra point. On their possession the Eagles were stopped for no gain on first down and had a nearly completed pass knocked loose by Cruz Galm on second down. Junior defensive end Keenan Williams ended West Valley's scoring chance with a pair of sacks on third and fourth down to preserve Cheney's win.
"It was a battle Royale, what you'd expect in a rivalry game," head coach Jason Williams said.
Neither team could mount much first half scoring as the defenses dominated. The only score came on Cheney's opening possession, with tailback Austin Kline doing most of the legwork on a drive capped by Shane Hammel's 25-yard run around the right side.
From there the team's played the field position game, with Cheney mounting a couple short drives that sputtered out. As Cheney did to start the game, the Eagles took the opening kick off of the third quarter and drove deep into Blackhawks territory where running back Mike Herford eventually ran it in from the 13 to tie the score, which was where it stayed until late in the contest.
The win gives Cheney a 6-2 mark overall, 2-2 in Great Northern League play, with two games remaining, at Colville Friday and home against Clarkston Thursday, Nov. 7. The Blackhawks own the tiebreaker over West Valley (4-4, 3-2) who has one game remaining this Friday at second-place Pullman (5-2, 3-1).
Cheney could use some help from the Eagles, as they need Pullman to lose twice if they hope to make the playoffs. The Greyhounds own the tiebreaker via their 29-26 come-from-behind win over Cheney Sept. 27.
One team who might have a say in both school's postseason fortunes is Cheney's opponent Friday – Colville. The Indians are also 2-2, 5-3 overall, and travel to Pullman Nov. 8.
Colville has playoff aspirations of their own, having beaten Clarkston and West Valley, and Williams said they return a lot of players from last year's 3-7 team that upset Pullman in the season finale, helping the Blackhawks into the playoffs. The Indians sport a wing-type offense, running a lot of counter plays, and are pretty straight up defensively with a 4-3 front, cover-2 protection.
"You just never know what you're going to get when you go way up north," Williams said. "Right now, we've just got to continue to execute."
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.