Some were designed pass plays. Others were pass plays turned run plays.
Whatever decision Mitchell Lesmeister made Friday night, it seemed to be the right one. The Walla Walla senior quarterback gave the Hanford Falcons fits all night with his legs, while mixing in a few passes as he led the Blue Devils to a 50-48 victory at Fran Rish Stadium.
Lesmeister rushed 29 times for 296 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw for 179 yards and two more scores.
“We want to come out and play fast,” he said. “We want to build off this and continue to put points on the board.”
When asked about his performance, Hanford coach Brett Jay shook his head.
“He’s tough,” Jay said.
Hanford, which came into its Mid-Columbia Conference opener with a 2-0 record, benefited from fast starts in both victories. However, on Friday, the Falcons were playing catch-up all night.
Walla Walla (2-1) jumped out to a 26-7 advantage early in the second quarter behind Lesmeister and never trailed.
Hanford showed its resolve and got back within striking distance late before having its final drive end near mid-field with just over 1 minute remaining in the game.
“Our guys showed they could step up and play better in the moment,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “We stepped up and made plays when we had to.”
A chance to win
After trailing by 19 points early in the second quarter, Hanford kept inching closer and closer. The Falcons closed to within 44-34 at the end of the third quarter. Hanford cut the deficit to three after a 50-yard catch-and-run by Joseph Gauthier made it 44-41 with 9:09 remaining.
But again, it was Lesmeister who had the answer, capping Walla Walla’s next drive with a 35-yard touchdown run to push the lead back to 50-41.
Gauthier got Hanford back to within two after another 67-yard reception to make it 50-48 with 6:46 left.
Hanford had a final chance to come all the way back, but an interception by Bryant Romero on a Garrett Horner fourth-down pass ended the comeback effort.
“We battled and I am so proud of my guys,” Jay said. “We are so close. We just have to go back and keep working.”
While most other games that started with a 7 p.m. kickoff where winding down, the fireworks were just getting started for the Blue Devils and Falcons.
Leading 38-21, Hanford got a 4-yard touchdown run from Tayvonne Miller to cut the margin to 38-28.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Edwin Romero bolted untouched right through the middle of the Falcons kick coverage for an 89-yard touchdown to push the lead to 44-28.
On the Falcons next play from scrimmage, Miller broke loose for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Miller rushed 25 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns.
“We had our chances to put our foot on it a couple times, and we couldn’t put them away,” Hisaw said. “That’s a credit to Brett and the fight in his kids.”
Horner had another big game, completing 23 of 40 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Hanford’s Brady White led all receivers with nine catches for 130 yards.
W — Miguel Baza 45 pass from Mitchell Lesmeister (pass fail)
W — Bryant Romero 48 pass from Lesmeister (Bryar Jensen kick)
H — Tayvonne Miller 41 run (Woody Page kick)
W — Brennan Barberich 1 run (Jensen kick)
W — Carter Davis 29 pass from Lesmeister (kick fail)
H — Thomas Kitchens 14 pass from Garrett Horner (Page kick)
H — Miller 15 run (Page kick)
W — Lesmeister 33 run (pass fail)
W — Lesmeister 1 run (kick fail)
H — Miller 4 run (Page kick)
W — Edwin Romero 89 kick return (pass fail)
H — Miller 52 run (run fail)
H — Joseph Gauthier 50 pass from Horner (Page kick)
W — Lesmeister 35 run (pass fail)
H — Gauthier 67 pass from Horner (Page kick)
RUSHING — WW, Mitch Lesmeister 29-285, Brennan Barberich 17-66, Sam Hoe 4-7; H, Tayvonne Miller 25-174, Garrett Horner 6-(minus-37), Drezdyn O’Daol 2-16, Joe Gauthier 1-8.
PASSING — WW, Lesmeister 8-24-1-179; H, Garrett Horner 23-40-1-290.
RECEIVING — WW, Isaiah Moss 2-40, Bryant Romero 1-46, Sam Hoe 1-2, Miguel Baza 1-45, Carter Davis 3-46; H, Miller 3-(minus-3), Thomas Kitchens 4-27, Brady White 9-125, Dmetri Kennedy-Woody 3-8, Joe Gauthier 4-133.