MOSES LAKE — West Valley receiver Cameron Willey made a defender miss and raced up the right sideline, an almost certain touchdown in his sights.
Moses Lake safety Joey Robertson pulled down Willey at the four yard line. It was a 68-yard gain, but the points had been saved. Robertson’s hustle was rewarded as a sure touchdown turned into fourth-and-goal from the 32 yard line after a fumbled snap and holding penalty.
“Coach (Jared) Pope teaches that every day,” head coach Todd Griffith said. “It’s drilled into their head. You run everywhere you go, you never take a play off so that paid off right there.”
Robertson’s play was one of many from a defense that extinguished the Columbia Basin Big Nine’s No. 1 offense, as Moses Lake defeated West Valley 14-0 to claim the league championship and an undefeated league record.
“Our defense played lights out, lights out,” Griffith said.
Defense ruled the day, but it was the Moses Lake offense that provided an early swing in momentum.
Moses Lake went 80 yards on its second drive for the game’s first touchdown. Kyler Haneberg caught three passes for 51 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown from Brandon Griffith on third-and-nine. Brandon Griffith avoided pressure, stepped up and found Haneberg cutting across the middle of the field.
“I felt really good with our offense, especially with Brandon being at quarterback,” Todd Griffith said. “I knew that he could get some explosive plays. He did such a great job of finding open guys and he does that ... on the fly, running sideways and see a guy down field and get him the ball. I don’t know how he does it.”
West Valley attempted to answer, driving from its own 19 to the Moses Lake two yard line.
Now, it was the defense’s turn.
West Valley leading receiver Dallin Cluff stumbled on his route and Jon Ochoa intercepted CBBN leading passer Brandon Battle in the end zone.
“We’ve been practicing all week, we’ve been looking at their goal line plays, we’ve been looking at everything,” Ochoa said. “Our coaches do well at giving us some goal line situations that help us thrive in these kind of situations. I just stick to my practice and stick to what the coaches taught us and just broke on the ball and I just got it.”
Moses Lake had an opportunity to increase its lead before halftime, but a 36-yard pass to Haneberg in the end zone was called back due to a holding penalty. To make matters worse, Haneberg was injured on the play and would not return.
Under duress, Battle showed off his elusiveness for much of the first half. The Chiefs created countless pressures, but could not corral him for an actual sack.
Until the end of the first half.
Battle had marched the Rams back into the red zone in hopes to tie the game. Pressured on third-and-seven, Battle scrambled to his left, but was brought down by a group of defenders. When the bodies peeled off, Battle’s right leg was hurt and he had to be helped off by teammates.
With the league’s leading passer and leading receiver both out of the game, the second half devolved into a slog.
A style that favored Moses Lake.
“We’re dog scrapers, dude,” Hunter Cruz said. “We train hard. We do everything hard.”
The would-be clincher came early in the fourth quarter. After converting a first down as a running back and catching a pass earlier in the drive, Brandon Griffith took a quarterback keeper seven yards for a touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining.
“He is just even keeled,” Todd Griffith said. “Doesn’t get too worked up. Just goes out and does his job. He’s a natural football player... That kind of ability he has — we’re just lucky he’s on our side.”
Replacement quarterback Spencer Jolley — pressured most of the second half — was unable to match points and threw an interception to Mario Yepiz that effectively ended the game.
“They (defensive line) get the pressure up front, which helps us — lets us play on the ball more instead of catching up to the receivers,” Ochoa said. “It lets us stay on top so we can break on the ball so they’re a big reason that our DBs (defensive backs) do good.”
Score by quarters
ML — 7 0 0 7 14
WV — 0 0 0 0 0
ML — Haneberg 27 pass from Griffith (Skeesick kick)
ML — Griffith 7 run (Skeesick kick)
Royal 75, River View 0
ROYAL CITY — Royal led 62-0 at halftime and routed River View 75-0.
Saywer Jenks completed seven passes, five for touchdowns. Angel Farias returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in addition to a 52-yard touchdown reception.
The Knights added an interception and fumble return for a touchdown.
Kiona-Benton 34, Warden 12
WARDEN — Warden was outscored 20-0 in the second half and lost to Kiona-Benton 34-12.
Ryan Arredondo completed 10 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Kaden Skone finished with 64 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Soap Lake 41, Bridgeport 16
BRIDGEPORT — Soap Lake closed its season with a 41-16 victory against Bridgeport
Klayten Northup passed for 222 yards and five touchdowns.
Lind-Ritzville/Sprague 27, Reardan 12
REARDAN — Lind-Ritzville/Sprague scored 27 unanswered points to beat Reardan 27-12.
Bryce Kelly led the Broncos with three touchdown passes. Mason Brausen rushed for 108 yards.
Other Basin scores:
Quincy 26, Grandview 14
Connell 42, Wahluke 9