WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks played one of their best games of the season as they beat Tri-Cities for the fourth time this season, 68-34. The Skyhawks dominated on offense throughout against the winless Fire.
Wenatchee Valley opened the game with a 5-play, 25-yard drive for the score, a 3-yard run by running back Tommy DeJohnette. Playing without a kicker again, the Skyhawks were forced to go for the 2-point conversion all night, which they did quite effectively.
The Skyhawks led 8-0. The defense forced the Fire to give it up on downs, then next play quarterback Jarvis Alston hits Davonte Solomon on 30-yard scoring strike. With the 2-point conversion, WV led 16-0 with 7:14 to go in the opening quarter.
Next Fire possession, they drive 8-plays, 37 yards to 3-yard line, but fail to score on 4th down. The Skyhawks take over on their own 3-yard line. Two plays later, Alston hits John Roberson for the 41-yard touchdown. The Skyhawks led 24-0 with the 2-point conversion, early in the second quarter.
On their third possession, the Fire was able to drive for the TD, 3 plays, 37 yards as Marc Allen ran 4 yards for the score. That cut the lead to 24-6 as the Fire missed the extra point.
Next Skyhawk possession, Alston is intercepted. Next Fire possession, Skyhawk defensive lineman Tijah Henderson picks off Travis Martin. WV takes over on the Tri-Cities 16-yard line. Next play, Solomon rushes in for the TD. Skyhawks now led 32-6 with the 2-point conversion.
The Fire would come right back with a 40-yard drive for the score, as Martin hit Roy Borrego for the TD. That cut the lead to 32-13 with 44 seconds before the half. The Skyhawks needed little time to score again as Alston passed 30-yards to Roberson for the TD.
The Skyhawks led 38-13 with 28 seconds remaining in the half. Tri-Cities overcame a sack in the final seconds as Martin passed 34-yard to Borrego for the touchdown as the clock ran out.
WV led 38-20 at the half.
Alston was doing quite well even though he was a question mark coming into the game with a toe injury.
“Pretty much last week, he was saying he could have played. I figured he would be a full go tonight,” said WV Head Coach Keith Evans of Alston. “He is a competitor. He wants to play. He wasn’t going to let nothing else go down but him playing. He was running out there on the kickoff. It’s hard to control him sometimes.”
The Skyhawks kept their foot on the gas in the second half. Tri-Cities was intercepted on their opening possession of the second half as EJ Armstrong raced 50-yards for the pick-6. That upped the lead to 44-21.
The Fire would hit a 25-yard score next play for the TD, cutting the lead to 46-28. Not to be outdone, the Skyhawks come right back with a 7-play, 37-yard drive for the score, a 4-yard run by Jordan Laurencio.
WV now led 52-28 with the missed conversion. Next Fire possession, Emanuel Wyatt comes up with the pick. The Skyhawks went 15-yards in 4-plays for the touchdown, as Alston passed 24-yards to Armstrong. That pushed the lead to 60-28 early in the fourth quarter.
After Tri-Cities stalled again, the Skyhawks came back with a one-play drive, a 28-yard strike to Roberson, which made the lead 68-28 with 5:38 remaining in the game. Just like the first half, the Fire scored a TD as time expired, a 20-yard pass, which made the final 68-34.
Evans felt like this was their most dominant win since the Reno game early in the season. He was pleased to play so well heading to the playoffs.
“I definitely want to build some momentum and play up to our ability. I feel we did that for the most part,” Evans said.
Alston was 8-for-11 for 210 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Martin was 15-for-27 for 223 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.
The Skyhawks had 13 rushes for 81 yards. The Fire had 7 rushes for 28 yards. WV was penalized three times for 35 yards. TC was penalized once for 10 yards. The Skyhawks had 8 first downs while the Fire had seven. Evans felt like his offense played good, executing the plays, particularly the running plays. While the offense was solid, he was expecting more the defense.
“I felt like Tri-Cities put up more points than they should have. We were on the field more than we should have been. When you are up like we were, the guys lose focus a little bit. I just have to stay on them. They got a little too happy,” he said.
The Skyhawks finished the regular season at 6-6 while the Fire fell to 0-12. WV has two weeks off before hosting a playoff game against Reno (6-6) on Sunday, July 14. Evans said the team will rest up a week, then come back and get to work preparing for Reno.
WV beat Reno solidly in both games at the Town Toyota Center this season. Evans would like to do that again but knows it won’t be easy.
“They’ll come here with a solid team. They did make some personnel changes. We’ll definitely have to be on our game. We need to play better than we did tonight if we want to dominate them as we should dominate them. You have to turn it up a little bit,” Evans said.
Evans said kicker Dan Kleckner should return for the playoff game.