The Scuffle

September 24, 2009 

The turning points in great football games earn simple monikers that solidify their legendary status. San Francisco fans have "The Catch" from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1982 NFC Championship Game, Bronco fans have "The Drive" by John Elway and Oregon Ducks fans are still fired up before each home game at Autzen Stadium with footage of "The Pick" by Kenny Wheaton.

Although the fourth quarter between Wenatchee and Pasco on Sept. 18 was full of exciting moments, the turning point for me was off the field.

I arrived at Edgar Brown Stadium near the end of the second quarter after shooting and scooting from Fran Rish Stadium, where Kamiakin had already gone up 14-0 in their 31-10 win over Hanford.

It was 7-0 when I got there and I started making frames in Edgar Brown's poor lighting. Although the field is pretty bright in the middle, the way the lights cycle throws off the white balance and exposure in unpredictable ways. This effect is invisible to the naked eye and can only be avoided in-camera by shooting at shutter speeds around 1/50th sec. or slower, which is way too slow to stop sports action.

You can see the effect in this series of shots, which I have not toned:

At halftime, Pasco coach Dustin Lamb let me grab some snaps inside the locker room, which really helped me round out the photo gallery with some non-action, especially since I wasn't able to go early and shoot some pre-game features:

The third quarter didn't provide much action. I knew this was going on the front of the sports section, so I wanted something good that also matched the outcome of the game and that was focused on Pasco. One of the few exciting plays happened right in front of me, but I was at a terrible angle:


The rest of the game was pretty ho-hum. It wasn't sloppy enough to be terrible, but it seemed like Wenatchee was just slamming their star Jacob Sealby up the gut time and time again, so when Wenatchee went up 21-7 with 7 minutes left, it was getting late and I'd had enough.

I had some OK shots and figured one of these would be my daily offering:


The problem with the third photo is that it looks like Wenatchee's Peter Culp is facemasking Pasco's DeVonte Cleveland, who was called for horse-collaring on the play. The call was obviously unpopular and I didn't want to rile up the Pasco faithful if that ended up costing them in a close game because it was actually a good call:

As I was leaving, however, I heard a ruckus behind me. When I turned, I saw two Pasco players shoving each other and yelling. I didn't get very good shots of the scuffle from my angle, but managed a couple snaps of the shoving and the aftermath:

Neither frame is compelling, but that's not the point. The situation had made me stay long enough that Pasco was starting their drive. And though their offense had been largely impotent up until that point, I figured I'd stay a couple more minutes to see if a miracle was in the cards. Pasco started up the field but faced a crucial fourth-and-one situation on their own 29-yard-line. Pasco tight end Jacob Price came up big again and converted, which was the shot we ended up running:

Pasco then ate up a big chunk of yardage with a pass to Marques Avery:

And Price punched in the touchdown:

With 2:41 left, Pasco attempted an onside kick, which looked like a textbook example when the ball bounced off a Wenatchee player's legs and Pasco’s Brandon Search recovered:

The crowd erupted with goosebump-inducing energy:

And after a strong run by Pasco's Austin Wilborn, Avery squeaked in a ballsy two-point conversion:


My "no f***ing way," was quickly repeated when Wenatchee's Sealby returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown:

I'm not from the area, so I have no sentimental attachment to our local teams. Their wins and losses usually only influence my photo choice, but when this game transformed from the early season bore-fest into a dramatic playoff-esque affair, the excitement was infectious. It was hard not to be rooting for Pasco, which was now down by 6 points with only a minute left.

Their offensive momentum continued but after a couple shots at the end zone,


including another in which pass interference was called against Wenatchee, Pasco was left with a fresh set of downs, but only 7 seconds to go 6 yards. Pasco quarterback Josh Morris kept it, but ran into wall instead of the end zone:

It was heartbreaking for the team and its fans, and it was doubly disappointing for me. Not only had a beautiful narrative been robbed of its unlikely happy ending, but I had once again chosen the wrong angle to shoot from. Because they had thrown to the right so much during the game, I positioned myself on the left side of the field in hopes of a dramatic game-winning catch, but that left me with a terrible angle on Morris' attempted run and an even worse angle on his post-game dejection:

which would have been so much stronger had I been 20 feet to the left to include the jubilant Wenatchee players in the background.

The scuffle may not have led me to make any spectacular photos, but it did prompt me to stay for one of the most exciting football games I'd ever seen. Perhaps that's not enough to make it "The Scuffle" for anybody else, but that's how I'm going to remember it.

Read more about the game at René Ferrán's blog, Out of Bounds.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
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