MOSES LAKE — Gone are the days of offensive blowouts, but that’s OK for Wenatchee.
For the third week in a row, Wenatchee escaped a tight contest to extend its Big Nine winning streak to six, this time with a 13-10 victory over Moses Lake at Lions Field. The win clinched a state tournament berth for the Panthers.
Garrett King drilled a game-winning 19-yard field goal as time expired, but the play that set up the go-ahead kick was arguably the gutsiest play call for the Panthers this season.
Senior quarterback Dillon Sugg pitched the ball to wideout Chase Resch with 21 seconds left to play. Right tackle Ross Martin created space for Resch to step up and scan the right side of the field.
Resch saw senior receiver Zach Larsen downfield and threw a tight spiral inside away from the man in coverage, which Larsen converted into a 61-yard reception to the Moses Lake two-yard line.
The trick play, known as “scissors pass,” is something the Panthers (6-1 league, 6-2 overall) have tinkered around with in practice a few times as an afterthought, not something they necessarily planned on implementing during game time.
“We’ve worked on it,” Resch said. “I just never thought I’d actually get a chance to do it in a game.”
When offensive coordinator Jeff Christoferson dialed in the play, head coach Scott Devereaux expected prevent defense. Instead, the Chiefs kept the corner assigned to cover Larsen at normal depth, which allowed Larsen to find space in the secondary.
“It never works in practice, but it worked tonight,” Devereaux said.
It took some poise for Wenatchee to convert the final drive into points, but the team kept its composure throughout an evening of frustrations. Its lone touchdown of the evening came on an 11-yard run from Isaiah Brandt-Sims and the visitors went into halftime tied 7-7.
The Panthers tried to create separation in the second half, but had plenty working against them. They committed 11 penalties (including an encroachment call on fourth and goal which resulted in Moses Lake’s lone touchdown in the first half), gave up a fourth-down conversion on a fake punt and lost standout lineman Jakob Stoll late in the game with an injury.
Through everything, they kept calm.
“They hung tough,” Devereaux said. “I think I was probably more frustrated than anybody with the penalties. Some, like us jumping offsides, that was ridiculous on our part, but the flags were flying for Moses Lake’s half for sure. But these guys are scrappers. We just call it chopping wood. Just keep chopping wood, chopping wood, chopping wood.”
Wenatchee put up 49 points in the first half against the Chiefs during the first meeting at Lee Bofto Field at the Apple Bowl, but couldn’t create any sort of separation in the rematch.
The Panthers have beaten their last three opponents by a combined 22 points and they aren’t putting up points in bunches anymore. Most importantly, though, they’re finding ways to win.
“For me, it was a great team win,” Larsen said. “A lot of people made some mistakes out there, there were a lot of mistakes, including myself. But the team kept rallying around each other and we just got each other’s back because we’re a family. We just came back and we battled hard and got the win. That’s all that matters.”
That grinder mentality has locked them into a playoff berth. With one more win, they will be Big Nine champions.