CASHMERE — There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after securing a win week one.
Just ask Cashmere head coach Bryan Bremer who, after shaking hands, bolted from midfield to the endzone and jumped in his players’ arms in celebration.
“I’m still (too) out of shape for that,” Bremer said after the 20-14 OT win over Ephrata. “That was an unbelievable win with the amount of adversity we faced. We go up 14-0 in the first half but we had a lot of guys go down in the second half with cramps and contusions. The offense slowed down, but the defense was consistent.
Junior quarterback Sam Phillips led the Bulldogs on two scoring drives in the first half and put Cashmere ahead 14-0 at the break, but Ephrata received the second-half kickoff and marched down the field on three plays before scoring on a 17-yard pass from Ean Boyd to Tyler Lybbert. The Tigers then converted the two-point conversion to pull within six.
It was a slugfest the rest of the game, with both defenses clamping down on the aerial attack. But while Cashmere stuffed Ephrata in the ground game, the Tigers had no answer for the read-option. It was there all night.
“He did a great job of baiting those and a couple of times I didn’t even give it to him but he read the play anyway,” Bremer said.
Phillips was easily over 100-yards on the ground and consistently used his legs to move the chains in big situations.
“They were dropping six or seven guys and daring us to run (cause) last year we could not run anywhere on them,” Bremer said. “We took the challenge and rushed for over 150 yards. That’s where we want to be.”
In addition to the 130-odd rushing yards, Phillips finished with three touchdowns — two rushing and one passing — but he also threw three picks in the second half as well. Granted, one went right through a receiver’s hands and another more-or-less served as a punt, but his third was unsavory.
With time ticking down in the fourth, Phillips missed a receiver with an errant throw over the middle that was picked on Cashmere’s side of the field. With the momentum now on their side, Ephrata took advantage and drove down the field before punching it in on a four-yard run from Mac Laird with a little over a minute left in the game.
The Tigers just needed an extra-point to seal the win, but their kicker dribbled his attempt back to the line of scrimmage.
Sometimes, you just get fortunate. It just happened to be Cashmere’s night.
The Tigers botched a snap three plays into overtime — something they had done four separate times throughout the contest — and Bulldogs recovered. On the ensuing drive, Phillips used his legs to get Cashmere down to the goal line before getting the final three yards on a sneak up the middle.
“Overtime was the best thing that could have happened to us because it gave us a chance to refocus on the mission at hand,” Bremer said. “And that was a pretty dominant performance to get the victory in OT. Gritty performance by all 51. I’m really proud of them.”
Bremer and the boys will celebrate this one for the rest of the night, but it’s back to work Saturday afternoon and on to Sultan next week.
The Bulldogs travel to play the Turks on Friday but return home the following week for a game against Wapato.