PASCO -- Some ugliness reared its head between the Chiawana and Walla Walla coaching staffs on Friday night at Edgar Brown Stadium.
But in the end, the Riverhawks' 56-24 CBBN 4A victory was a thing of beauty.
Jordan Downing ran for 238 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Joey Zamora had his best night so far, completing 9 of 14 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns to keep fifth-ranked Chiawana undefeated at 4-0 (2-0 in CBBN).
To get there, the Riverhawks had to fight off a talented Blue Devils squad with some star power of its own. But Walla Walla didn't have an answer for Downing.
"We've got some big guys up front, but it's also the receivers blocking upfield," said Downing, who also returned a third-quarter interception 22 yards for a touchdown.
But Zamora, a 6-foot-3 sophomore still growing into the position, looked more and more comfortable in the pocket as the night wore on. He connected for two touchdown passes with his cousin -- senior receiver Miquiyah Zamora -- and another to C.J. Edrington just before the end of the first half to make it 35-17.
One key moment for Zamora came after Walla Walla safety Gabe Porter jumped a hitch pattern along the left sideline, intercepting Zamora's pass and taking it 50 yards to the end zone to cut the lead to 28-17 with just 48 seconds left in the first half.
But after a 35-yard kickoff return from Edrington, Zamora looked less like a sophomore in his first year of varsity competition and more like a collected veteran, finishing a three-play scoring drive with a 28-yard fade to Edrington to push the lead back to 35-17.
"That stuff fires me up. It got me motivated to redeem myself," Zamora said. "One thing coach (Scott) Bond tells me is to manage the game. I don't have to be a playmaker -- we've got enough of those already. I have to make sure I keep us in the game."
The Riverhawks went up 49-17 after Terro Bell capped a 12-play drive with a 2-yard run. But the Blue Devils came fighting back with a 6-play scoring drive that ended with Blake Rowley hauling in a 5-yard TD pass from Dakota Turner.
Then with 1:55 left on the clock and Walla Walla trailing 49-24, the Blue Devils attempted an onside kick, which didn't sit well with Chiawana head coach Steve Graff.
"I don't care if you score, but if you're down by 25 points don't onside kick," Graff said. "Kick the ball to us and we'll run out the clock."
Graff decided to make a statement on the next drive, sending out his first team -- including Downing -- to punch in one final score. Joey Zamora found Edrington in the back of the end zone with a 28-yard pass with just 17 seconds left on the clock.
After the game, Graff and Blue Devils coach Eric Hisaw talked out the matter at midfield, spending several minutes expressing their side of the story.
Hisaw understood Graff's point of view, but facing the wrong end of an 0-4 record he felt it was important for his players to keep fighting.
"It was more of a miscommunication," said Hisaw, a first-year coach who had some limitations as far as substitutions were concerned as well. "But I know it looks bad on our part."
Chiawana 56, Walla Walla 24
Walla Walla 7 10 0 7 -- 24
Chiawana 14 21 7 14 -- 56
C--Jordan Downing 5 run (Isaac Mitz kick)
C--Miquiyah Zamora 42 pass from Joey Zamora (Mitz kick)
WW--Jonah Hoe 10 run (Dean Atkinson kick)
C--MZamora 27 pass from JZamora (Mitz kick)
WW--FG Atkinson 40
C--Downing 6 run (Mitz kick)
WW--Gabe Porter 50 interception return (Atkinson kick)
C--C.J. Edrington 28 pass from JZamora (Mitz kick)
C--Downing 22 interception return (Mitz kick)
C--Terro Bell 2 run (Mitz kick)
WW--Blake Rowley 4 pass from Dakota Turner (Atkinson kick)
C--Edrington 28 pass from JZamora (Mitz kick)
RUSHING--WW, Turner 3-14, Porter 5-23, Hoe 22-115, Moe Handcox 2-4. C, Downing 22-238, Bell 17-89, MZamora 1-6, JZamora 1-(minus 6).
PASSING--WW, Turner 10-17-1-161. C, JZamora 10-15-1-190, Mitz 1-1-0-11.
RECEIVING--WW, Hoe 3-25, Rob Ferenz 1-(minus 2), Rowley 3-61, Jake Grandstaff 1-7. C, MZamora 4-92, Edrington 6-98.
FIRST DOWNS--WW 11, C 24. FUMBLES-LOST--WW 1-0, C 1-0. PENALTIES-YARDS--WW 11-91, C 7-72.