Black Hills has had this habit of pulling rabbits out of hats this season.
And the Wolves had one more trick up their sleeves Saturday, sawing Columbia River’s postseason dreams in half.
Kade Weitzel scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left and Black Hills of Tumwater rallied for a 14-10 win over River in a 2A district playoff at Kiggins Bowl.
“We’ve been playing close games, coming back to win late all season,” Weitzel said. “We’re used to this, so we were confident we could do it again.”
Another comeback win appeared unlikely halfway through the fourth quarter with River holding a 10-0 lead and with a first down on the Black Hills 29.
But that’s when Weitzel picked off his second pass of the game, this time returning it 72 yards to the Chieftains’ 8-yard line with 6:10 left in the game. Three plays later, Taylor Simmons scored from 1 yard out on fourth down to make it River 10-7.
“That interception got everyone fired up,” Weitzel said. “We knew we were back in it.”
The Chieftains fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, but then the Wolves tried a lateral that was batted down by River’s Tristan Hoyer and eventually recovered by the Chieftains at the Black Hills 44.
But River was unable to get a first down and punted the ball back to the Wolves, who took over at their own 30 with 2:57 left.
Black Hills’ winning drive including pass receptions of 16 yards to Andrew Wilmoth, 25 yards to Jacob Briggs and finally as 21-yard pass to Weitzel to set up his 12-yard run around the left end.
“I just had to beat that last guy around the corner,” Weitzel said. “Once I did that, there was a lot of room.”
After gaining just 21 yards of offense and one first down in the first half, River got its offense going with some help from turnovers forced by the defense.
River drove 35 yards after Logan Wilson recovered a Black Hills fumble, with Julian Garcia running for a 2-yard touchdown on fourth down for a 7-0 lead.
River was then able to convert a Kanen Eaton interception into a 35-yard field goal by Hoyer and 10-0 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
It looked like that might be enough with the way the River defense was playing.
“Our defense played its heart out,” Columbia River coach Christian Swain said. “I’m really proud of how they performed. …
“But this is playoff football, and playoff football is usually decided by kicks and turnovers. In the end, we made too many.”
After Black Hills’ second touchdown, the Wolves tried a squib a kick that only went 8 yards and River had one last shot from the Wolves’ 44.
But that last shot ended when Wilmoth jarred the ball loose from a River receiver, and Jordan Clairidge intercepted the ball to seal the win.
Black Hills advances to the 2A state playoffs to face Selah. Columbia River’s season ended at 4-6.
BLACK HILLS 14, COLUMBIA RIVER 10
Black Hills 0 0 0 14–14
River 0 0 10 0–10
CR — Julian Garcia 2 run (Tristan Hoyer kick)
CR — Hoyer 35 FG
BH — Taylor Simmons 1 run (Davide Levi kick)
BH — Kade Weitzel 12 run (Levi kick)
RUSHING — Black Hills, Jordan Clairidge 3-21, Simmons 13-16, Zach Loveless 3-16, Weitzel 4-12, Ethan Loveless 8-8, Preston Lee 1-7. Columbia River, Garcia 17-45, Koben Jamison 11-34, Matthew Asplund 1-8, Isaac Bibb-O’Neil 3-(-6), Tristan Hoyer 1-(-3).
PASSING — Black Hills, Ethan Loveless 10-21-1-150. Columbia River, Asplund 7-20-2-50, Garcia 1-2-1-4.
RECEIVING — Black Hills, Jacob Briggs 4-54, Weitzel 4-55, Wyatt Rollman 1-25, Andrew Wilmoth 1-16. Columbia River, Jack Armstrong 2-17, Hoyer 2-17, Blake Bryan 2-8, Jamison 1-8, Anthony Jenkins 1-4.