Touchet erases 24-point deficit to reach Class 1B championship

By Ben Reynolds, Special to the HeraldNovember 30, 2013 

It became overtly obvious no lead is safe against the Touchet Indians.

Touchet overcame a 24-point first-half deficit and rallied for a 62-36 victory over Rosalia in a 1B state semifinal game Saturday night at Edgar Brown Stadium.

The Indians (12-1) advanced to their first state championship game since 2002 where they will take on Neah Bay in the title game next weekend at the Tacoma Dome.

Neah Bay, which has played in the last two title games, beat Lummi (46-14) in the other 1B semifinal Friday night. Touchet last state championship came in 1999.

Touchet, which had beaten Rosalia 54-14 earlier this season, was on the ropes early and it appeared that the Spartans (8-3) might keep its unlikely playoff run alive into next week.

Rosalia, seeking its first title game appearance since 1985, jumped out to a 30-6 first half lead behind Craig Nelson, the Spartans all-everything player, and Clay Shelton. Combine that with five first-half turnovers for Touchet and the Spartans appeared to be running away with the upset. However, Touchet finally settled in, scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half to cut the margin to 30-20, and just kept rolling on into the second half.

Touchet scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter to take its first lead at 36-30. Rosalia tied the game at 36 on an 80-yard sprint down the right sideline by Nelson, but that would be about it for offense in the second half for the Spartans.

Touchet would score the game’s final 26 points, and their defense shut down Nelson and the Rosalia running game. Once Touchet took the lead, Rosalia went away from its running game that was so dominant in the first half and tried to make up ground quickly through the air. But that didn’t work. Touchet intercepted Ryan Maley three times in the second half, including one that was returned 83 yards for a touchdown by Ricardo Rincon.

The Indians comeback on offense was speared by quarterback Elias Martinez, who threw three second-half touchdowns, all covering more than 20 yards.

Touchet took the lead for good on Ricon’s 49-yard touchdown catch from Martinez with 5:52 left in the third quarter. It was Martinez’s fourth touchdown toss of the night.

The senior completed 8 of 12 passes for 203 yards and bounced back nicely after throwing two first-half interceptions.

Touchet did a good job standing in its own way in the first half, fumbling the ball four times and losing three of them to go with Martinez’s two interceptions. That helped Rosalia take a quick 18-0 first quarter lead.

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