The rematch of last year’s 2A state championship football game was an instant classic.
West Side and Firth both scored touchdowns during a wild final 10 seconds of regulation before the two-time defending 2A champion Pirates made one more play in overtime and pulled out a 26-20 victory on Friday night in Dayton.
It appeared the Pirates, winners of 22 straight games, would suffer their first loss since 2019, but Cage Brokens fooled the Firth defense on a 33-yard scoring run on a fourth-and-10 play with less than five ticks left on the clock. The senior was also able to convert on the ensuing 2-point conversion run to give the hosts a 20-14 advantage.
“The last play (in regulation) that we scored ... (Firth) was in a deep four, cover four prevent, and so we ran a counter that we like to run,” WS head coach Tyson Moser said. “And it really wasn’t designed to happen this way, but Cage Brokens knows he has the right to — it’s a double handoff — and he has the right to keep it if he feels like it’s open. And so he kept it and went 33 yards to score, so that’s just a senior being a senior and making a senior play.”
All the Pirates had to do to extend their program-record winning streak was pooch the kickoff, which is what they tried to do. However, the kick went further than intended and right down the middle of the field, and the Cougars gamely capitalized with a 80-or-so-yard kickoff return to the house.
Both teams struggle kicking PATs, so Firth elected to attempt a 2-point conversion pass for the win, but it was batted away by Easton Henderson.
West Side got the ball first in overtime and Brokens wasted no time with a 10-yard scoring run on the first play. The Pirates then proceeded to hold the Cougars to three yards on four plays to slam the door.
Neither team scored in the second half until the very end. West Side was able to take advantage of a pair of extremely costly 15-yard penalties by Fifth on its lone touchdown drive of the half.
“It was just crazy,” Moser said. “It felt like, at least from the second quarter on, it just felt like we could not do anything. And then that (fourth-down play) with 11 seconds left, we finally got something to work with three seconds left. And then they returned the kick, and the kids could have been deflated and gave up, but they stopped the 2-point conversion and we ended up winning. But it was just a crazy game. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, honestly.”
Both teams found paydirt twice in the opening half, but the Cougars were able to convert on one two-point conversion to the Pirates’ none, and take a 14-12 lead into the locker room.
West Side’s first foray into the end zone was courtesy of a 35-yard pass from veteran quarterback Blaize Brown to Parker Henderson. Later in the first half, the Pirates got a 25-yard scoring scamper from Cristian Plancarte.
Although the Pirates struggled offensively, they did not turn the ball over. Conversely, West Side’s defense got a pair of fumble recoveries from Aaron McDaniel.
RUSSETS 15, INDIANS 6
Shelley (1-0) traveled to Franklin County and scored twice in the fourth quarter to pull away from Preston. The Russets took advantage of an errant snap over the head of Preston punter Brecker Knapp and got a safety, and then found paydirt on a short run to ice the game.
The Indians (1-1) scored their lone TD on a well-executed 13-yard fade pattern from Knapp to Tyler Lindhardt late in the second quarter. Preston missed the PAT and trailed 7-6 at the half in its home opener.
Preston drove pretty deep into Shelley territory on a couple of other occasions, but the Russets were up to the challenge.
The Indians also performed well defensively, just like they did in last week’s 7-6 victory over Lakeland, and got 11 tackles from Trevor Gregory. Emery Thorson rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries for the hosts.
PIRATES 26, COUGARS 20 (OT)
Friday at Dayton
Firth 6 8 0 6 0 — 20
West Side 6 6 0 8 6 — 26
WS — Parker Henderson 35 pass from Blaize Brown (kick failed).
WS — Cristian Plancarte 25 run (pass failed).
WS — Cage Brokens 33 run (Brokens run), :3.
WS — Brokens 10 run (run failed).
RUSSETS 15, INDIANS 6
Friday at Preston
Shelley 0 7 0 9 — 15
Preston 0 6 0 0 — 6
P — Tyler Lindhardt 13 pass from Brecker Knapp (kick failed), 2:03.