Clutch moments, clutch plays, and for the Columbia River Rapids, a clutch victory.
The 2A Greater St. Helens League football game Thursday between the Rapids and Panthers could be described in many words, starting with player-described monsoon-like conditions at Kiggins Bowl virtually from start to finish.
But for the Rapids, a 16-13 victory is a result head coach Brett Smedley and his coaching staff have waited all season for. Not just the victory, but how it happened — complete effort from four (not three) phases, in fact: offense, defense, special teams, and the sideline.
“You guys finished the game,” the head coach told his players afterward. “We’ve been waiting and talking about it. It’s going to click, it’s going to click. And guess what — it just clicked.”
And clicked at the right time.
The Rapids — at 3-5 overall — control their own destiny toward a postseason bid for the second time in Smedley’s head-coaching tenure. A win over last-place Hudson’s Bay next week in each teams’ regular-season finale seals it.
The Rapids knew clear as day what was a stake Thursday, said junior quarterback Adam Watts. Perhaps more importantly, a loss meant River was eliminated from playoff contention.
“It was a really big game for us,” he said.
It didn’t come easy.
Both teams faced heavy rains all game, but big plays in key moments helped the Rapids take the lead for good in the second quarter. Watts scored both of River’s touchdowns on runs of 5 and 12 yards, and the defense forced three turnovers (interception by Aden Flores, two fumble recoveries by Adam Huerena) and also had a game-ending safety.
River milked the clock on its final possession leading 14-13, driving 47 yards on 6-plus minutes getting inside the 1. Watts had three first-down runs of his own.
Washougal (3-5) isn’t eliminated from playoff contention, but needs a victory over Hockinson and help from Bay in order to stay afloat.
Special teams = momentum shift: Watts’ second touchdown of the game gave River the momentum — and lead for good — but credit to the special teams and a recovery by Aden Flores for setting up the play. River blocked a Washougal 25-yard field goal attempt inside 5 minutes left in the second quarter, Flores scooped the ball up and ran all the way back before getting tackled at the Washougal 19-yard line.
“I’m going to give him some crap about that (getting tackled),” Watts said with a smile.”
Four plays later, Watts found the endzone on a 12-yard run on fourth and 2.
Bea-less second half: Washougal’s four second-half offensive drives Thursday ended in an interception, lost fumble, punt and a safety in the end zone to end the game. It played the final two quarters without starting quarterback Holden Bea, who injured his lower back on a roughing the quarterback penalty called on River with 1:20 to play in the half with River’s lead at 14-7. It happened on Washougal’s final first-half drive when Bea helped the Panthers march 60 yards at the time of the injury. After the penalty was enforced, Thomas Brown — one play later — scored from 15 yards out that made it a 14-13 game at halftime. Brown started the second half at quarterback.
COLUMBIA RIVER 16, WASHOUGAL 13
Washougal 7 6 0 0—13
Col. River 0 14 0 2—16
W — Holden Bea 18 run (kick good)
CR — Adam Watts 5 run (Gage Newman kick)
W — Thomas Brown 15 run (kick failed)
CR — Watts 12 run (Newman kick)
CR — Safety (quarterback sack in end zone)
RUSHING — Washougal: Holden Bea 8-47, Rantin Reynolds 5-22, Thomas Brown 11-66, Owen Edwards 1-15; Columbia River: Kaden MacDonald 11-43, Adam Watts 12-68, Aiden Miller 6-22, Aden Flores 3-9, Nicholas Ianello 4-20, Levi Hongel 7-44.
PASSING — Washougal: Holden Bea 5-9-0-62, Thomas Brown 1-4-1-8; Columbia River: Adam Watts 5-9-0-36.
RECEIVING — Washougal: Sam Evers 2-9, Thomas Brown 3-28, Matt Brown 1-4, Mather Minnis 1-(minus-1), Victor Flores 2-11, Adam Huerena 2-18, Satchel Baskette 1-7.