ABERDEEN — Through a rainy first half, the Bulldogs stunned the Knights in 1A quarterfinal football action Nov. 17 at Stewart Field. With a scoreless first quarter, Montesano was able to strike first and last to take the game, 17-7, and advance to play at the Tacoma Dome in Washington State playoffs.
On a path very similar to last year, the Bulldogs will venture on to semifinal play Nov. 24, at the Tacoma Dome, after defeating the King’s Knights for a second year in a row. This year, they will face Mount Baker. The semifinal game is scheduled for 10 a.m.
“Hats off to coach Brian Hollatz. He had a great game plan. The kids executed really, really well. That is a great football team we just beat. I am so proud of our kids,” said Montesano coach Terry Jensen. Almost at a loss of words due to his overwhelming joy at the win, Jensen cited his coaching staff and key plays by senior Richard Smith, as pivotal to the outcome.
“Richard Smith came in to replace (Ben) Ohashi, made a great catch and a key interception,” said Jensen.
Ohashi was injured at the start of the fourth quarter. He was cleared to return, but was kept out of the remainder of the game as a precaution.
A tight first half played with both teams working primarily out of shotgun offenses saw punters get a workout. After three series each, the teams had to punt out of their situations in attempts to set the other team back. Alternating offensive series, neither team could make significant yardage against the other.
Bulldog quarterback Matthew Jensen put the first points on the board for Montesano on a keeper from scrimmage with just over four minutes left in the second quarter. Anthony Louthan made good on the extra point, setting the Bulldogs up, 7-0, by the half.
King’s tried a short drilling kick to start off the second half, but the ball was fielded well by Bulldog Tristan Darst. However, after only three plays, Montesano was forced to punt for the fourth time in the game.
The Knights tried to convert on a fourth-and-short, utilizing their passing game as the rain had subsided for the second half. The Bulldog defense stopped the play, and Montesano took over on downs.
After another Montesano punt, the Knights couldn’t convert in three downs and tried again on fourth and short. Ohashi broke up the pass and the Bulldogs again took control.
A Bulldog fumble gave possession back to King’s, but on their first play Bulldog linebacker Kenny Roy made an interception, giving the Bulldogs possession through the end of the third quarter.
With Montesano threatening from the King’s 15-yard line at the top of the final quarter, an aerial attack was foiled, sending Ohashi to the bench. Smith came to replace the injured Bulldog as the team set up for a field goal. Set at an angle on the side hash mark, Louthan made true the field goal to give the Bulldogs a 10-point advantage with an almost-full quarter left to play.
After the Knights’ receiver dropped his knee on the kick-off reception, the King’s offense started to spark. A 61-yard pass and run from King’s quarterback Billy Green to wide receiver Alex Brouwer brought the Knights deep into Bulldog territory. Green was able to break through the Montesano defense for a 7-yard sneak and bring the Knights onto the scoreboard. All this in just the first 30 seconds of the quarter.
But almost as quickly, the Bulldogs launched another attack and saw Tucker Ibabao race for a 37-yard breakaway touchdown in what would be the final score of the game with just under 10 minutes to play.
King’s senior Caleb Taylor was making a beeline for the goal on the following kick-off, but last man standing, Jensen, was able to make the tackle and stop the score.
The Montesano defense tightened up as the King’s offense quickened its pace in the final minutes of play. Both teams utilized their timeouts to make the most out of their situations, heightening the anticipation in the final moments.
The Knights, trying to drop in pass after pass, found Bulldog Smith ready to take one away. He intercepted a Green attempt but King’s was able to get one more chance after Montesano could not turn the Smith interception into an additional scoring opportunity and had to punt.
The last series scramble by the Knight’s looked to be a classic two-minute drill. In their attempts to draw Montesano offsides, they were caught in their own game and only went deeper in the hole. Facing a fourth-and-long, King’s went for the play but had to turn the ball back over to Montesano with only 30 seconds left in the game.
As with the end of the first half — and the end of last year’s matchup — Jensen took a knee and ran the clock out as Montesano toppled the King’s Knights, 17-7.
The win takes the Bulldogs back to the Tacoma Dome for the second year in a row. This year it looks to be Mount Baker they will have to get through to advance to the final.