CHELAN — The Bronze Shoe will remain in the Cashmere trophy case, where it has resided the past five years, for at least another 365 days following the Bulldogs 28-18 victory over the Chelan Goats Friday night at Sargent Field.
And this one was a full team effort.
Following two straight losses, the Bulldogs needed to make a statement, and their defense delivered. While the offense struggled to move the ball against a stout Goats’ front seven, the defense came to play.
They hassled Chelan quarterback Reed Stamps all night, recording two sacks and forcing four turnovers. Stamps came into the night with 16 touchdowns against two picks, but he threw four interceptions Friday – the last one going 71-yards the other way for a pick-six to seal the win for Cashmere.
It just wasn’t the sophomore’s night. The Goats had chances, especially late, but turnovers and missed opportunities ultimately squashed their hopes.
“I’m so proud of this group, Chelan gave us everything they had and it came down to the wire,” Cashmere head coach Bryan Bremer said after winning his second Bronze Shoe. “Coming off two hard losses sometimes it’s really hard to get up and motivated again, but not for this one. If you can’t get motivated for this game you’re not playing the right sport. The guys came out resilient tonight.”
It wasn’t exactly an ideal start for the Bulldogs, who fell behind 3-0 in the first quarter following a muffed punt that set Chelan up on the Cashmere 30 yard line. The Goats then had a chance to increase the lead to 10 after Quin McLaren set them up inside the 5-yard line following a spectacular diving catch on a corner route, but the offense stalled out and turned the ball over on downs.
Cashmere couldn’t do much and punted on their ensuing drive but caught a break when the typically sure-handed Kyle Jackson fumbled the punt to set the Bulldogs up at the Chelan 15 yard line.
The Bulldogs punched it in three plays later with Jordy Sanchez plowing through the middle to give Cashmere a 7-3 lead.
Despite a lengthy Chelan kickoff return, which got the Goats into the red zone, the score remained 7-3 heading into halftime.
Using the Goats’ tactics against them, the Bulldogs employed the same fake-reverse kickoff return to open the second half. Brooks Elliott, who now has three kickoff return touchdowns on the season, took it 90 yards to the house to put Cashmere on top 14-3.
“That’s three for us, and now the last four times teams have kicked deep to us, we’ve taken it back to the house on three of them,” Bremer said. “I call those guys my ‘special forces’. I put the 11 most dangerous guys I got out there and I’m just really excited about the effort I got from them.”
Chelan struck back with a little time left in the third as Stamps hit Jackson for a 29-yard touchdown down the seam to bring the Goats back within four.
But the Bulldogs hit Chelan with another long return on the ensuing kickoff, with Javi Reyna taking it back 68 yards.
Chelan’s defense held strong and force a punt, but Stamps gave it right back to Cashmere after tossing a pick to Brayden Weatherman. The Bulldogs took advantage and scored a couple of plays later on a 10-yard pass from Sam Phillips to his brother Nate Phillips.
Stamps shook off the INT’s and got the Goats back in the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tobin Wier with three minutes left in the game, followed by a successful two-point conversion.
The Goats then miraculously recovered the onside kick, leaving them two minutes to potentially engineer a game-winning drive, but on fourth-and-10 Stamps tossed a pick to senior Bryson Pratt, who high-stepped 71 yards down the sideline to ice the win.
“It was fun to watch Pratt, who has been through some hard times and hasn’t started the past couple of games, to seize the moment,” Bremer said. “He’s going to have a smile on his face tomorrow and on Monday as well when we meet as a team.”
There will be a lot of smiles around Cashmere over the next couple of days as they enjoy another Bronze Shoe win. Things only get more challenging next week though with Okanogan coming to Cashmere in what will be the Bulldogs final home game of the season.
“It’s going to be electric and we’re excited for that one, but we are going to enjoy this one,” Bremer said.
The Goats will look to rebound next week at Cascade.