PASCO -- The Kennewick football team struggled to get the offense completely dialed in during Friday's 27-26 home win over Pasco at Edgar Brown Stadium.
But Lions coach Bill Templeton knew exactly which numbers to call at crunch time.
Kennewick quarterback Drew Loftus tracked receiver Devven Ramos coming across the field and hit him in stride with a pass on the left hash, and Ramos did the rest, completing a 65-yard touchdown pass that clinched the victory.
"When you need a big play, you get it to your athletes," Templeton said. "Drew made a nice throw, and Devven made a nice catch-and-run."
Kennewick, which had already clinched the No. 3 seed in next week's CBBN-GSL crossover games, made a big statement early in the game, putting up a quick score when linebacker Victor Zuniga ripped the ball away from Pasco quarterback Zack Whitby and raced in for a 50-yard score on the game's second play from scrimmage.
"Just a freak play. That's going to happen," said Bulldogs coach Dustin Lamb.
But Pasco bounced right back with a 13-play scoring drive, punctuated by Whitby's 6-yard pass to Ethan Whitby on fourth-and-goal. In fact, every time the Lions would make a big play, the Bulldogs seemed to answer right back with one of their own.
"Everybody has been talking about rivalries all year," Lamb said. "This is the one I grew up with. You're talking about one of the oldest ones around."
When Loftus scored on a 1-yard plunge to give Kennewick a 14-6 lead, Pasco running back Luis Murillo raced up the middle virtually untouched for a 51-yard score to tie it at 14.
"I think our kids were feeling good about themselves last week after (a 35-14 win over Southridge), and not in a good way," Templeton said. "Pasco came out and smacked us in the mouth, but I like the way we bounced back."
With 5:13 left in the half, Zack Whitby found Brandon Search isolated against Loftus in coverage and launched a deep pass down the right sideline. In the ensuing battle between two of the CBBN's top athletes, Search came down with the ball and scampered away for a 51-yard score to make it 20-14 at the half.
"He just jumped a little before me," said Search, who finished with a game-high six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. "We've been going at it since our sophomore year. We look forward to going against each other."
Kennewick got started on the right foot to open the second half, as Grant Woods returned the opening kickoff 76 yards down the left sideline for a score, giving the Lions a 21-20 lead.
"Neither team really had a steady drive. It came down to a lot of big plays," said Loftus, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 275 yards and a score. But Whitby ended up with the bigger passing night, going 21-for-37 with 302 yards and three touchdowns.
"I've got nothing but praise for Pasco," Templeton said. "That Whitby kid is something. I'm not looking forward to facing him for the next three years."
Kennewick 27, Pasco 26
Kennewick 7 8 12 0 -- 27
Pasco 6 7 7 6 -- 26
K--Victor Zuniga 50 fumble return (Paul Martinez kick)
P--Ethan Whitby 6 pass from Zach Whitby (kick failed)
K--Drew Loftus 1 run (Martinez kick)
P--Luis Murillo 51 run (Z.Whitby run)
P--Brandon Search 51 pass from Z.Whitby (kick failed)
K--Grant Woods 76 kickoff return (Martinez kick)
P--Search 10 pass from Z.Whitby (kick failed)
K--Devvon Ramos 65 pass from Loftus (pass failed)
RUSHING--K, Loftus 22-62, Ramos 3-5, Bodie Simpson 2-12, Zack Albertin 11-45. P, Search 2-3, Z.Whitby 7-20, Murillo 8-90, Clifton Lozano 2-3.
PASSING--K, Loftus 15-26-1-275. P, Z.Whitby 21-37-3-302.
RECEIVING--K, Ramos 4-96, Simpson 3-33, Reggie Clinton 5-120, Cody Gadeberg 1-22. P, Search 6-140, Lonnie Hurley 2-33, Murillo 1-10, E.Whitby 4-51, Michael Stephens 2-21, Lozano 2-9, T.J. Avery 4-38.
FIRST DOWNS--K 17, P 16. FUMBLES-LOST--K 1-0, P 4-2. PENALTIES-YARDS--K 5-35, P 2-10.