KENNEWICK -- An apt description of Southridge's 16-6 loss to Eastmont on Thursday night would be ...
Six times the Suns had the ball on the other guys' side of the 50 -- and twice more at midfield -- and all they had to show for it were a pair of Chandler Mertens field goals.
They were good-looking kicks to be sure -- particularly the 35 yarder that probably would have been good from 50 -- but they weren't the shiny, happy endings for which Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt hoped.
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"Obviously we have to work on our red-zone offense," he said after his team fell to 1-3, 1-1 in the CBBN 3A.
Still, the Suns had a shot to tie or win it thanks to a pair of big, three-and-out stands by the defense in the final nine minutes of the game.
But on Southridge's final realistic chance -- Matt Mendenhall's fourth-and-1 pass to Dallin Palmer was high and tight -- and picked off by Eastmont's Ryan Pierce, who dashed 62 yards the other way to salt the game.
"Our defense played their butts off because those guys have some offensive weapons," said Eastmont coach Doug McGill, celebrating the school's first football win over Southridge.
The weapons were abundant for Southridge. Mendenhall threw for 182 yards and was 15-for-29, taking into account some desperation throws at the end that led to a second interception in the waning moments.
Palmer topped 100 yards of offense, running for 51 and catching three balls for 55 more. Forty of that came on one catch as he put on a burst of speed to catch up with a deep ball from Mendenhall.
Josh Richards came up big with seven catches for 81 yards, including four for 64 yards as the Suns moved into position for Mertens' second field goal.
But when they needed yards most -- fourth-and-3 at the 19, third-and-5 at the 17, fourth-and-1 at the 36 -- they came away empty. And that was just in the first half.
Even Mike McAdie's 57-yard kick return to start the second half, which set Southridge up at the 18, resulted in three points after the Suns failed on three consecutive runs inside the 3.
"We just have to try to get better and get the offense going," offensive lineman and linebacker Caleb Osborne said. "We were getting into the red zone every time, we just couldn't finish."
The Southridge defense didn't have any trouble finishing off Eastmont's league-leading rushing attack. The Wildcats (2-2, 2-0) came in averaging more than 200 yards a game on the ground but needed 37 carries to reach 160, with Osborne and fellow backer Chance White clogging up the running lanes.
Eastmont quarterback Lucas McGill did most of the heavy lifting, running for 93 yards, mostly up the gut, as top runners Pierce and Michael Perez were in the Suns' sights all night.
"We knew they wanted to run between the tackles, which is why we had to load the box," Reiboldt said. "They are real big up front."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; email@example.com.
Eastmont 16, Southridge 6
Eastmont 6 3 0 7 -- 16
Southridge 0 0 3 3 -- 6
E--Ryan Pierce 8 run (kick fail)
E--FG Mario Valdivia 20
SR--FG Chandler Mertens 18
SR--FG Mertens 35
E--Pierce 62 interception return (Valdivia kick)
RUSHING--E, Lucas McGill 16-93, Pierce 7-31, Michael Perez 11-25, Sam Gwinn 3-11. S, Dallin Palmer 16-51, Chris Haueter 10-53, Matt Mendenhall 1-7, Chance White 1-0.
PASSING--E, McGill 5-13-0-67. S, Mendenhall 15-29-2-182.
RECEIVING--E, Darren Spaeth 4-37, Reed Jaspers 1-30. S, Josh Richards 7-81, AJ Henderson 4-36, Palmer 3-55, Mikey Sanchez 1-10.
FIRST DOWNS--Eastmont 10, Southridge 13. FUMBLES-LOST--Eastmont 3-1, Southridge 0-0. PENALTIES-YARDS--Eastmont 6-50, Southridge 3-26.