MOSES LAKE — Brandon Griffith rolled to his right and — with the improvisational playground style that exemplified his two years at quarterback — found Brandon Stevens in the back of the end zone for the last of his three touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.
The score wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the game, but for a player that has been a part of three straight league championships and four state playoff games, leaving Lions Field for the last time to the sounds of cheers was a fitting end.
“He’s (Griffith) one of my closest guys on this team, for sure,” Stevens said. “He stays at my house all the time. I love that guy so much. Definitely proud to play with him for four years.”
Moses Lake was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick and Gonzaga Prep ran out the final two minutes to win 35-21.
The Chiefs went toe-to-toe with the ninth-ranked Bullpups in the first half, but it was two lengthy scoring drives in the third and fourth quarter that put the game out of reach.
The Bullpups marched 88 yards, mostly on the ground, and finished with a 29-yard touchdown scamper by Kasey Anthony near the end of the third quarter. University of Washington commit Devin Culp, held in check by Moses Lake’s defense, made a low grab on third-and-12 for 18 yards to keep G-Prep driving.
Once again, Griffith pinned the Bullpups deep on a punt that was downed at the three yard line. Led by quarterback Connor Halonen, Gonzaga Prep methodically made its way up the field using its read option attack.
Halonen scored his third touchdown on a 19-yard counter play, putting the Bullpups ahead by three touchdowns with less than six minutes to play. Halonen, a 5-foot-10 junior, rarely went down on first contact on his way to 224 rushing yards.
“They’re a good football team and we knew they were,” head coach Todd Griffith said. “The surprising kid — No. 14, they’re quarterback Halonen — I don’t know how many yards he had, but he had a bunch. It seemed like we had him then all of a sudden he’d slip out.”
Gonzaga Prep stunned the crowd at Lions Field with a 78-yard pitch and catch to Sam Lockett on its first play from scrimmage. However, Moses Lake quickly regrouped to tie the game on its next possession.
Mason Campos dove forward two yards on third-and-one to give Moses Lake first-and-goal. Brandon Griffith swung a pass to Stevens two plays later for the first of their two touchdown connections.
The Chiefs tied the game again 14-14 after Dalenh Anderson hauled in a 15-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone, but they never led. It was a resilient effort from an offense that had been decimated by injuries throughout the season.
“That’s what we do, man, just fight,” Stevens said. “That’s what Coach Griff preaches. We don’t hang our heads — it’s next guy.”
Score by quarters
GP — 7 14 7 7 35
ML — 7 7 0 7 21
GP — Lockett 78 pass from Halonen (McKenna kick)
ML — Stevens 9 pass from Griffith (Skeesick kick)
GP — Halonen 2 run (McKenna kick)
ML — Anderson 15 pass from Griffith (Skeesick kick)
GP — Halonen 42 run (McKenna kick)
GP — Anthony 29 run (McKenna kick)
GP — Halonen 19 run (McKenna kick)
ML — Stevens 5 pass from Griffith (Skeesick kick)