It’s not often a sophomore place kicker gets carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders.
But when the kicker just made his first career field goal with no time remaining he better get carried off.
Chiawana’s Logan Ellsworth booted a 27-yarder to lead the Riverhawks past Kamiakin 24-21 on Friday in a Mid-Columbia Conference game at Lampson Stadium.
“There is no feeling like that — winning one for your team,” Ellsworth said. “The whole team was telling me I could do it. I just didn’t think about it. I just put it through.”
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Ellsworth, the second-string kicker, was thrust into action because of an injury to Isaac Mitz last week.
He made three extra points in the first half but had never attempted a field goal in varsity action.
When Chiawana (2-3 league, 3-3 overall) got the ball back with 3 minutes left at its own 22-yard line, Ellsworth wasn’t even thinking about a field goal, but his coaches were.
“A coach came up to me and told me to get my leg ready,” he said. “That this game was going to come down to me.”
And that it did.
Ellsworth lined up to kick the field goal with 3.6 seconds remaining and booted a line drive through, but the play was ruled dead as Kamiakin head coach Scott Biglin called timeout before the snap. After another timeout to further try and ice the sophomore, Ellsworth calmly stepped up and kicked the winner.
“I’d messed up earlier on defense, and I was determined to make up for that,” Ellsworth said of a missed tackle. “The second time I got a better connection on it.”
The touchdown was set up by an eight-play drive as Chiawana quarterback Joey Zamora hooked up with tight end TJ Avery on three plays for a total of 28 yards.
Running back Clifton Lozano did the rest, including a 16-yard gain on second-and-6 with 40 seconds left.
“The whole game I knew they’d be flowing, flowing, flowing, and so I just cut it back and knew it’d be there,” Lozano said of the big pickup.
The field goal overshadowed a furious rally by Kamiakin (3-1, 4-2), which erased a 21-0 deficit in the second half.
Linebacker Johnny Jansen, who missed nearly all of last week’s game, intercepted a Zamora pass and took it 40 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 6:34 remaining.
The two teams traded possessions, before the Riverhawks went on their final drive to pick up a much-needed conference victory and hand the Braves their first loss in league play since 2009.
“It means a lot,” Lozano said. “Everyone doubted us, going 0-3 (to start the season). We beat one of the best teams in the Tri-Cities and did what we had to do.”
Chiawana jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half on three passing touchdowns by Zamora.
He hit Dre Dorton on a 51-yard touchdown on the third play, completed a 6-yard touchdown to Christian Penny midway through the second quarter, and found Avery on a 19-yard pass with 20 seconds left in the first half.
In the second half, Chiawana’s offense slowed down, as the Riverhawks attempted to chew the clock away with Lozano on the ground.Kamiakin, meanwhile, took advantage of its possessions.
The Braves scored on the opening drive of the third quarter, when Kylle Robertson hit Brandon Larsen on a 16-yard play-action pass to make it 21-7.
Early in the fourth quarter, Robertson connected with Javan Williams for his first catch of the game. The Braves got a lucky break when Williams, who was fighting for extra yards, fumbled, but the ball rolled out of bounds at the 2.
Robertson scored on a keeper on the next play.
On the ensuing Chiawana possession, Zamora was trying to avoid a sack and threw under pressure, only to see Jansen take it to the house, eventually setting up the wild finish.
“I was on the sideline praying,” Lozano said of the final play. “I had faith in my kicker. He won it for us.”Lozano finished with 188 yards rushing on 31 carries. Zamora was 13-of-23 for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Avery had four catches for 47 yards.
Liam Ollilo carried 14 times for 83 yards for Kamiakin, while Robertson rushed 12 times for 71 yards and a touchdown, and was 5-for-15 for 112 yards and a touchdown.