TACOMA — This team had one purpose.
This team was built for a state championship.
This was not a team happy just to get here, to the final game of the 2013 Washington high school football season.
So when it all came crashing down, when they had the ultimate prize ripped away from them on the last play, well, the Camas Papermakers were simply in a state of shock.
They quietly accepted the second-place trophy, then found friends, family, and of course, each other, looking for support.
There really was nothing else to do.
The Chiawana Riverhawks scored two touchdowns in the final minute to stun the Papermakers 27-26 in the Class 4A state high school football championship game Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome.
Quarterback Joey Zamora found Blake Bishop with a 4-yard pass as the clock hit zero, and the extra point by kicker Matt Winn gave the school from Pasco its first state championship.
“Just a scramble drill,” Zamora said. “We work on it every day in practice. Scramble until someone gets open. Blake did a great job of getting open.”
The game-winner came 55 seconds after Zamora found Dre Darton on a 57-yard touchdown pass. The Riverhawks (13-1) then recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“The ball just rolled to them at the right time for them,” Camas quarterback Reilly Hennessey said. “It went by so fast. We had this game won with a minute left in the game.”
While the Camas players and coaches praised Chiawana for winning the game at the end, they could not help but critique their own play throughout the night. Hennessey noted wrong reads and poor passes. There were several false start penalties. A muffed punt. Missed field goals and point-after kicks. Above all, four possessions in the red zone with no points for Camas (13-1).
“First off, they did a nice job. They made some nice plays. They made some big plays,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “The coach part of me is going to tell you we made too many errors and missed too many scoring opportunities. We had multiple opportunities to win this game. We were not able to finish it.”
Up 26-13 late in the third quarter, the Papermakers got to the Chiawana 1-yard line only to lose yards and have to settle for a field goal attempt. It was blocked. In the fourth quarter, the Papermakers lost the ball on downs at the Chiawana 5-yard line. And late in the game, the Papermakers missed on a fourth-and-short run, giving the Riverhawks the ball with 1:05 left in the game.
The rest is Chiawana history and Camas misery.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Bishop, who still had the ball in his hands, the one he caught to win the game.
“It sucks,” Hennessey said.
Zamora got the wind knocked out of him on his 57-yard touchdown pass with 55 seconds to play. He was fine by the time the Riverhawks recovered the onside kick.
“The guys know what to do,” Zamora said of that final drive. “It was amazing. I don’t really know how to explain it.”
Zamora found Bishop on a 24-yard pass to get in the red zone with 41 seconds left. A pass interference call got the ball to the 10-yard line. Zamora would later scramble for a first down at the 4-yard line, temporarily stopping the clock to move the chains. That gave the Riverhawks a shot at the end zone, and they converted.
The Chiawana defense was as good as hyped in the first half, holding the potent Camas offense to 38 yards in the first two quarters. Coming into the game, Camas’ lowest point total was 44 in Week 7. In Week 14, the offense had nothing in the first half. Michael Johnson’s 62-yard fumble return gave Camas a defensive touchdown in the first half.
“They did a great job of making us one-dimensional,” Hennessey said.
It did not help the Papermakers that their leading receiver, Zach Eagle, went down with an injured shoulder/collarbone in the first quarter. He would not return.
Chiawana got a touchdown run and touchdown catch from Clifton Lozano for a 13-6 halftime lead.
It was all Camas in the third quarter, though.
Hennessey threw touchdown passes to Nate Beasley and Slave Mikhalets, and Beasley broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run.
The rest of the game was dominated by defense, until the final 65 seconds of the game.
“It hurts that we didn’t finish it,” Zach Eagle said. “But I have no regrets. The guys played their hearts out. The whole season, we got better every game. It’s life. It’s not always the picture-perfect ending. But I’ve loved every second playing with these guys.”
“This is family,” said linebacker Michael DiGenova, who had three sacks in his final game. “I wouldn’t trade anyone on this team for anybody else. I have no regrets on the season. None.”
The Camas championship season ended one win, one play shy of reaching its full potential.
Instead, it is Chiawana’s title, with a finish for the ages.
CHIAWANA 27, CAMAS 26
Chiawana 7 6 0 14—27
Camas 0 6 20 0—26
Chi — Clifton Lozano 6 run (Matt Winn kick)
Cam — Michael Johnson 62 fumble return (kick failed)
Chi — Lozana 21 pass from Joey Zamora (kick failed)
Cam — Nate Beasley 74 pass from Reilly Hennessey (kick failed)
Cam — Slav Mikhalets 33 pass from Hennessey (Michael DiGenova pass from Hennessey)
Cam — Beasley 44 run (kick failed)
Chi — Dre Dorton 53 pass from Zamora (Winn kick)
Chi — Blake Bishop 4 pass from Zamora (Winn kick)
RUSHING — Chiawana: Lozano 28-162, Alex Webber 9-10, Zamora 6-(minus 14). Camas: Beasley 23-161, Cole Zarcone 2-4, Jason Vailea 2-5, Hennessey 5-(minus 14).
PASSING — Chiawana: Zamora 17-36-2-301. Camas: Hennessey 9-21-0-182.
RECEIVING — Chiawana: Dorton 4-91, Deion Singleton 4-59, Lozana 3-44, Isaiah Richie 2-52, Bishop 2-28, Christian Penny 1-12, Grady Graff 1-14. Camas: Beasley 1-74, Zach Eagle 1-29, Mikhalets 4-45, Jorden Payne 1-10, James Price 1-7, Michael DiGenova 1-17.