KENNEWICK -- Coming off a pair of lackluster performances in the running game, the Southridge Suns had one thing on their mind Friday night with the Pasco Bulldogs paying a visit to Lampson Stadium.
Well, two actually.
The first was get the win, putting a festive cap on Homecoming and doing their part to lock up a playoff berth. The second was get Chris Haueter and the ground game back on track with the postseason just over the horizon.
Check and check.
Haueter ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns -- the first a 70-yard flash in the second quarter -- and the Suns racked up 225 yards on the ground in a 41-0 CBBN 3A win over the Bulldogs.
"We wanted to get Chris going and show everyone what Southridge football is all about," said senior lineman Sam Barnes. "We want to be more dynamic in everything we do."
The Suns (5-2, 4-1) kept pace with Kennewick for second place in league, with next week's showdown between the city rivals looming. Southridge's win, combined with the Lions' 34-6 win over West Valley, clinched playoff berths for both teams behind first-place Kamiakin.
Southridge didn't make any bones about its offense, using fullback Tanner Gottschalk more than ever in a two-back set.
"I was really happy about that. It's what I started with. I love two-back -- it feels safe," said Haueter, who has led the league in rushing from Week 1 but saw the rest of the field close in with back-to-back 43-yard games. His season total sits unofficially at 875 yards.
"We want to be a physical team," said Suns coach Tony Reiboldt, "and we want to have the run to set up the pass."
Even with the increased focus on running, the Suns didn't forget about the pass. Matt Mendenhall was a sterling 14-for-18 for 153 yards and two touchdowns. His 52-yard connection with Adam Sanders early in the third quarter that was Suns' fifth offensive score of 50 yards or more in the last three weeks.
Mendenhall found Paul Hamada on a 7-yard route for the game's first score, and Southridge got its second TD on a halfback option pass from Haueter to Clay Gonzalez, covering 27 yards.
Chandler Mertens added field goals of 24 and 31 yards and was golden on five extra points. The first field goal was set up by a nifty 52-yard punt return by Hamada.
Though the scoreboard didn't do them any favors, the Bulldogs (0-7, 0-5) didn't walk away empty-handed.
They moved the ball pretty well, getting 266 yards of offense, but coming up short on key plays.
"Consistency," said two-way senior lineman Anthony McKittrick. "We'll drive the ball 70 yards down the field, take two penalties and it's first-and-30."
There also was the play of some promising underclassmen, among them sophomore running back Clifton Lozano Jr., whose 95 yards on 26 carries gives him 301 yards in the last three games after seeing almost no time in the first four weeks.
Also, junior receiver Miguel Torres caught six balls for 90 yards, ran for 18 more and showed no fear picking up tough yards. He was a nice option for junior QB Sean McNiel, who was 16-for-24 for 147 yards, his one pick a late throw speared by Addison Spivey. Ethan Cantu also caught six balls for 43 yards for the Bulldogs, who suited just 25 players and played about 14.
"We want to make sure of the future carrying on Bulldog tradition," McKittrick said. "We're small, but we're big in heart."
Southridge 41, Pasco 0
Pasco 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Southridge 14 17 10 0 -- 41
S--Paul Hamada 7 pass from Matt Mendenhall (Chandler Mertens kick)
S--Clay Gonzalez 27 pass from Chris Haueter (Mertens kick)
S--FG Mertens 24
S--Haueter 70 run (Mertens kick)
S--Adam Sanders 52 pass from Mendenhall (Mertens kick)
S--FG Mertens 31
S--Haueter 9 run (Mertens kick)
RUSHING--P, Clifton Lozano 26-95, Miguel Torres 2-18, Sean McNiel 3-11, Team 1-(minus 5). S, Haueter 18-181, Mendenhall 3-32, Kory Miller 3-10, Robb Ellsworth 1-9, Kadin Diaz 3-(minus 7).
PASSING--P, McNiel 16-24-1-147. S, Mendenhall 14-18-0-153, Haueter 1-1-0-27.
RECEIVING--P, Torres 6-90, Ethan Cantu 6-43, Lozano 3-8, Karson King 1-6. S, Josh Richards 4-47, Hamada 3-25, Sanders 2-66, Gonzalez 2-36, Haueter 2-(minus 3), Brenden Kelly 1-8, Tanner Gottschalk 1-1.
FIRST DOWNS--P 13, S 16. FUMBLES-LOST--P 2-2, S 0-0. PENALTIES-YARDS--P 6-55, S 3-15.