CASHMERE — It’s tough to win when you get gashed up front for most of the night defensively and toss three picks.
But somehow the Cashmere Bulldogs nearly found a way after clawing back from 16-down in the fourth quarter against Omak Friday night; coming within six yards and eight points of leveling the score before quarterback Sam Phillips threw a pick in the endzone to seal the win for Omak.
“That is a tough loss,” Bulldogs head coach Bryan Bremer said after the game. “Omak is a good football team, but that was two totally different Cashmere teams. In the first half, I didn’t have them ready to play but they lit a fire in each other and played a different brand of football. I’m happy with how they responded, just not with how we started the game.”
It’s tough to argue with Bremer. The Bulldogs had a chance to capitalize up 14-6 following an 80-yard kick return from Brooks Elliott. But the Cashmere defense folded on the ensuing drive on 3rd-and-11, giving up a 53-yard touchdown run up the gut to Tanner Hall — his second of the game.
The Pioneers then scored 18 unanswered following the Hall touchdown and dominated the line of scrimmage as they carried a 16-point lead into the break. Pioneers quarterback, Aaron Black was marvelous and showcased some great escapability in moments when the Bulldogs had him boxed in.
“It was like Russell Wilson,” Bremer said of Black, who tossed for three touchdowns on the night and had two long rushing scores called back, “the kids got magic. I don’t know him personally but quarterbacks either have ‘it’ or they don’t have ‘it’, and that kid has it. He makes plays and makes others around him better. We didn’t do a good job of containing him.”
There were a handful of times where Cashmere had Black dead-to-rights, but the 5-foot-9-inch senior always found a way to squirm out of pressure and either run for yards, deliver the ball downfield or throw it away. The Bulldogs registered only one sack all night despite applying consistent pressure on Black.
Black also had the benefit of handing the ball off to Hall, who rushed for over five yards a clip and scored three touchdowns, all of which over 30-yards — Hall also had a pick on defense. The Bulldogs were not going to lay down though in the second half, and came out firing, scoring on their first possession of the half on a six-yard run from Phillps.
Omak struck back with a 24-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive and looked confident up 16 heading into the fourth quarter. Penalties started to take their toll though for the Omak defense, which started to help the Cashmere offense move down the field.
With less than six minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs were still down 16, but driving.
Phillips hit his brother Nate Phillips on a deep-ball down the sideline and then Jordy Sanchez finished off the touchdown with a one-yard plunge over the right guard. Following the 2-point conversion, Cashmere trailed by eight and needed a stop from its defense.
And for one of the only times all night, they got one, forcing the Pioneers to punt with a little over two minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs needed 73-yards but only got 67, coming up just short with Phillips tossing a game-ending pick in the endzone.
Overall, Cashmere showed a ton of heart, but they have some things to work on before the Bronze Shoe next week.
“We’ll tighten some things up, look at the game and learn from it and then on Monday we’ll turn our eyes onto Chelan,” Bremer said.
Cashmere has won the Bronze Shoe each of the last four seasons and will look to make it five next week in Chelan. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.