Zack Whitby could have imploded after his second interception of the day, an underthrown curl route midway through the fourth quarter that could have given the Richland Bombers their first lead of the day.
Instead, the junior quarterback kept his cool, coming back to throw one of the biggest touchdown passes of his young career in the Bombers' 21-14 win over Chiawana on Friday at Fran Rish Stadium.
"We had to have a little conversation on the sideline -- actually, it was more of a monologue -- about staying flat," Richland coach Mike Neidhold said after his team's second consecutive comeback victory. "To Zack's credit, he made a couple of big throws."
The biggest turned out to be a
43-yard scoring pass to Deric Samples on first down from just inside the 50 with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
"We thought the guy open would be No. 11 (Sheldon Liikala), but the safety got caught in the middle of the field and Deric was there," Neidhold said.
Whitby uncorked a long throw to Samples, who was open by a good 10 yards, and the 5-foot-11 senior receiver casually hauled it in and cruised in for the score to break a 14-all tie with 1:02 left.
"We were hoping for a first down," Whitby said.
The Riverhawks, who fell to 0-3, showed some signs of a healthy offense on their first drive, completing a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Clifton Lozano. The junior running back, a transfer from Pasco who recently won the starting role over Terro Bell, finished with 139 yards on 35 carries.
The Bombers (2-1) evened the score with 4:05 left in the second quarter, as Whitby lofted a ball to the deep corner for 6-7 wideout Nathan Streufert, who outleaped the defense for the ball and a 6-yard score to even things up at 7.
Chiawana went ahead just before the half, as Joey Zamora connected with tight end Grady Graff on a slant, and he took it to the house to make it 14-7.
"Chiawana is much better than 0-3. They're a very physical football team," Neidhold said.
But it was the Bombers' running game that seemed to wear down the Riverhawks down in the second half. Cameron Simpson and Josh Phillips combined for 148 rushing yards on 30 attempts, and Simpson scored the touchdown that tied the game at 14 with 9:02 left in the game.
Chiawana's junior-led squad showed some signs of youth, committing a few costly penalties and a coverage error that led to the game-winning TD.
"We juniors have never been a part of a losing team," 'Hawks linebacker Alex Weber said. "Coming into this year, we had a lot of responsibility, and we didn't have anybody to fall back on.
"It's not easy to step up and be a leader."
Chiawana 7 7 0 0 -- 14
Richland 0 7 7 7 -- 21
C--Clifton Lozano 3 run (Isaac Mitz kick)
R--Nathan Streufert 6 pass from Zack Whitby (Kevin Garza kick)
C--Grady Graff 23 pass from Joey Zamora (Mitz kick)
R--Cameron Simpson 1 run (Garza kick)
R--Deric Samples 43 pass from Whitby (Garza kick)
RUSHING--C, Lozano 35-139, Weber 1-5. R, Josh Phillips 13-58, Simpson 17-90, Whitby 4-6, Baird 1-2, Derek Redden 1-4.
PASSING--C, Zamora 9-16-0-131. R, Whitby 12-21-2-138.
RECEIVING--C, T.J. Avery 4-57, Christian Penny 1-19, Graff 2-41, Dre Dorton 1-5, Terro Bell 1-9. R, Redden 1-0, Deric Samples 3-53, Sheldon Liikala 2-8, Simpson 2-13, Streufert 1-6, Keith Kneblik 1-12, Gibson McGeorge 1-26, Phillips 1-20.
FIRST DOWNS--C 16, R 18. FUMBLES-LOST--C 1-1, R 1-0. PENALTIES--C 7-41, R 4-30.