The Glacier Peak defense Friday forced four turnovers in the second half and two turnovers on downs to preserve a 20-17 win over the Meadowdale Mavericks, giving the Grizzlies the 3A Wesco South title.
With such a great defensive effort, the Glacier Peak offense just had to make the most of its opportunities. A fumble recovery on the Mavs 36-yard line led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Matthew Darling, making it 10-7 Grizzlies in the third quarter, and then a 5-yard punt late in the third gave the Grizzlies the ball at the 42 yard line, which led to another Darling touchdown and a 17-7 lead The teams traded field goals in the fourth to make it 20-10 with little time left, but a Charlie White 72-yard touchdown catch with 58 seconds brought the Mavericks to within three. Unfortunately, Brett Schafer’s onside kick went out of bounds and Glacier Peak was able to knee the clock out.
The first half was mainly a defensive battle. Glacier Peak scored first when Spencer Pettit knocked the ball through the uprights on a 33-yard field goal attempt, giving the Grizzlies a 3-0 lead with 7:00 to play in the quarter.
The Mavs started with the ball on their 20, and on 3rd and 3, Malik Braxton got the handoff and ran 8 yards for a first down. The next play, Jeremiah Evans found White for an 11-yard gain, and a Meadowdale first down on its own 46 yard line. The Grizzly defense forced 4th and 1, and head coach Mike Don opted to go for the first down. Braxton got the handoff, but the offensive line broke down and Braxton was dropped by Glacier Peak’s Trey Chambers for a five-yard loss. The Grizzlies took over on the MHS 48 yard line with 3:04 to play. The Mavs quickly forced 3rd and 11 on the Grizzly offense, and on that play, Grizzly quarterbacck Branson Corwin’s receivers were all marked and he started to roll out to the left. Two Meadowdale defenders rushed him, but he got around them and found Jake Berg for a 16 yard gain. On 2nd and 8 from the MHS 31 yard line, Andrew McCoy got the handoff on the option and picked up 21 yards, but the play was called back for holding and the quarter would end afterward. The score was 3-0 Glacier Peak at the end of the first.
The Grizzlies started the second with a 3rd and 5 situation, and a failed field goal attempt. The Mavs picked up on their own 20 and their first play was Evans faking a handoff and running 26 yards down the sidelines for a first down. On the next series, the Mavs failed to pick up a first down and so Taylor Linton came out to punt. The ball was downed at the GPHS 3 yard line with 7:30 to play in the half. On 3rd and 10 from the 3, Corwin found Chambers right at the first down marker for a 10 yard gain that moved the chains. Then on 3rd and 1, Pinca got the handoff and picked up two yards. The drive stalled on the next series, and so the punting unit came out.
Even though they were on their own 28 yard line and it was 4th and 8, the Grizzlies called a fake punt. Brandon Jensen got the direct snap and tried to run for the first down. He was hit at the 30 yard line and stripped, giving Marzel Simmons an opportunity to jump on the loose ball and take it 30 yards to the end zone, giving the Mavs their first points of the game. After Schafer added the extra point, Meadowdale led 7-3 with 4:42 left in the half, an advantage they would take into halftime.
In the second half, the Mavs got the ball at their 20. The first play from scrimmage was a hand-off to Braxton, and he took it down the sidelines for an 80-yard touchdown run. However, the play was called back due to a false start penalty. The Mavs still had the ball, and on 3rd and 1, Evans faked the hand-off to Braxton and picked up 16 yards. Then on 2nd and 5 from the Grizzlies 49 yard line, Braxton got the carry and picked up 27 yards and a first down. That set up 1st and 10 on the GPHS 22; 3rd and 7 on that series had Evans going to Kim for a 7 yard catch and another first down.
Finally, the Mavs offense had 1st and goal for the first time all game, but they quickly squandered it. An offensive line breakdown on 2nd and 10 led to 3rd and 18 and then 4th and 18. Schafer came out to attempt a 35 yard kick, but missed it wide right, and the Mavs came away with no points. The Grizzlies took over on their own 20 with 7:35 to play in the quarter.
On 2nd and 2, Pinca got the handoff on the option and ran 10 yards to the Grizzlies 38 yard line. Then on 3rd and 7 from there, Corwin overthrew his receiver while being pressured, and the Grizzlies were forced to punt. The Mavs got the ball back on their own 28 yard line with 6:00 to play. After a false start penalty made it 1st and 15, Evans faked the handoff to Braxton and picked up 10 yards on the left side. However, he fumbled just before hitting the ground and the Grizzlies recovered on the Mavs’ 38 yard line. On 3rd and 10, Wong got the reverse and ran 8 yards, but holding was called. Coach Don wanted the Grizzlies out of field goal range and took the penalty, setting up 3rd and 25. However, the Grizzlies converted 3rd and huge again when Wong was found wide open in the middle of the field for a 35 yard gain and a first down. Then on 2nd and 2 from the MHS 9 yard line, Darling picked up 5 yards and made it 1st and goal on the 4. He got the next hand-off as well, and ran it in untouched to make it 10-7 Glacier Peak after Pettit added the extra point with 2:00 to play in the quarter.
The Mavs began their next drive on their own 26 yard line, and on 3rd and 3, Rory Spillum got the handoff and 7 yards to move the ball to the 40 yard line. Then on 3rd and 11, Evans rolled out, trying to find a receiver, and crossed the line of scrimmage before throwing a pass to Josiah Evans, and the play was called back. The ensuing punt went only five yards, as Linton shanked it, and the Grizzlies started in great field position again — this time on the MHS 42 yard line with 1:36 to play. On 2nd and 7, Corwin ran it himself on the triple option and picked up 14 yards. Then on 2nd and 4 at the MHS 19, Corwin found Leon Elliot for 14 yards as well. That set up 1st and goal from the five yard line for the Grizzlies, but time in the quarter ran out before they got another play off. The Grizzlies led 10-7 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, after no gain on 1st and goal, Darling got the handoff on 2nd and goal and ran it in for his second rushing touchdown of the game. Pettit’s extra point made it 17-7 Grizzlies, and the Mavs had to respond fast. The kickoff was returned to the MHS 35 yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, Braxton got the handoff and picked up 43 yards to bring the ball to the GPHS 22 yard line. Then on 2nd and 7, Evans found Trevor White for a 14 yard completion. That set up 1st and goal on the Grizzly 5 yard line. Braxton got the hand-off and tried to run left, but was hit well behind the line of scrimmage and fumbled out of bounds for a 7 yard loss. A 7 yard pass to Josiah Evans brought the ball back to the 5 yard line, but the Mavs could not punch the ball in. Schafer came out to kick a 22 yard field goal, and he easily hit it to make it 17-10 Grizzlies with 9:04 left to play.
The Grizzlies’ next drive went for a three and out, due to a holding penalty wiping out a 40 yard gain on a reverse to Wong, and the punt went just 19 yards, so the Mavs took back over with 6:15 left on the Grizzlies 42 yard line. Another offensive line breakdown led to an 8 yard loss on a Braxton run, so the situation became 3rd and 18. Evans stepped back to pass and saw the untouched blitzing corner just before he threw the ball down the sidelines to his brother. The pass never made it to him, as Wong picked it off at the Grizzlies 29 yard line with 6:10 to play.
The Maverick defense did its job and forced a quick three and out, getting the ball back with 4:44 to play on their own 40 yard line. The first play of the next drive was a quick slant, but the route was jumped by Hines and easily picked off. That gave the Grizzlies the ball right back on the MHS 43 yard line. Once again, the Mavs forced a three and out, and the punt afterwards went into the end zone for a touchback.
Meadowdale had another shot to tie with 3:00 left in the game, and they turned to their quarterback. But Evans was unable to complete his passes, and the Grizzlies got the ball back again with 2:33 to play in the game, this time on the Meadowdale 20 yard line. Once more, the Maverick defense forced a three and out. However, due to the field position, the Grizzlies were able to attempt a 43 yard field goal. Pettit barely got the kick to clear the outstretched arms of the Maverick defenders, but the ball easily made it over and through the goalposts to give the Grizzlies a 20-10 lead with 1:41 to play.
The Mavs had no timeouts left, and needed points fast. They started with the ball on their own 32 yard line, and the first play was a 13 yard pass to Spillum for a first down. But then, after a spike, a personal foul was called on the Mavericks, making it 2nd and 27. This time, when Evans went back to pass, he managed to get rid of the ball fast enough to White. There were no defenders in front of him as White went 72 yards to the house for a Maverick touchdown. Schafer added the extra point to make it 20-17 with 58 seconds left; but the following onside kick sailed over everyone’s head and out of bounds. Glacier Peak kneed the ball down twice to close out the game and earn a 20-17 victory.
With the win, the Grizzlies improved to 7-1 (4-0 in conference), and have clinched the Wesco South No. 1 seed for crossover. The Mavs fell to 5-3 (3-1 in conference) and finish second in Wesco South.
— By Quint Turner