It was either the best "worst game" you ever saw, or the worst "best game."
Either way, Thursday night's Mid-Columbia Conference football tilt between the Pasco Bulldogs and Kamiakin Braves will be a memorable chapter in the storied rivalry.
Johnny Jansen ran for 152 yards and two scores, Kylle Robertson threw for three touchdowns, and the Braves overcame three turnovers and a tenacious Pasco squad for a 35-30 win at Lampson Stadium.
The Bulldogs did some overcoming of their own -- 10 penalties for 106 yards, a coaching ejection, a couple of turnovers and their best player on the sideline with crutches and a stress fracture.
Combine all that with the fact that Pasco was winless coming in and taking on a perennial playoff power, and it had all the makings of a blowout.
Instead, the Bulldogs finished 4 yards short of a tying touchdown with a little more than 2 minutes to go.
"It's just so frustrating," said Pasco QB Sean McNiel, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for a career-high 252 yards and another score. "All the practice time, the film time, and we come out and play with our hearts in every game.
"I've been feeling like (the first win is) around the corner all season. We just have to get it."
With senior running back/linebacker Luis Murillo sidelined, it fell to sophomore back T. J. Faamausili to give the Bulldogs (0-7, 0-5 MCC) a boost. And that he did, with 63 yards on the ground and 108 in receptions. His 74-yard jaunt on a screen pass early in the third quarter set up McNiel's second TD plunge and helped stem a serious momentum swing for Kamiakin (5-2, 4-1).
The Braves scored on the final play of the first half -- a 40-yard hookup between Robertson and Javan Williams to end a drive covering 65 yards in 20 seconds.
Then, on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, a short pass turned into a big gainer with a personal foul on Pasco for helmet-to-helmet contact, and then two unsportsmanlike penalties on Bulldogs coach Dustin Lamb, who obviously was frustrated with having five penalties for 55 yards at the time versus one for 5 for Kamiakin.
Lamb was ejected and must sit out next week's game. The series of flags led to Jansen's 7-yard score and a 14-point edge for the Braves.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way.
"We got to work on getting more consistent offensively and more consistent defensively," said Robertson, noting that the ground game (196 yards on 32 carries) was critical.
"We got a lot of receivers banged up, and we thought it was a big thing to get the running game going with Jansen and (Liam) Ollila."
The Bulldogs outgained Kamiakin 452-339, taking advantage of a smart short passing game that kept them out of third-and-unmakeable. Receiver Roger Ingram Jr. was a big part of that, catching eight balls for 68 yards.
McNiel finished 19-for-39 and threw just one interception, that inside the 20 and picked by his counterpart, Robertson, who returned it 57 yards to set up Jansen's first TD.
"It feels good to get a pick back," said Robertson, who threw his 10th interception earlier in the game as well as his 14th, 15th and 16th TDs -- all league highs. "If I had read my blockers right, I would have scored."
Pasco 7 7 7 9 -- 30Kamiakin 7 14 7 7 -- 35
P--Sean McNiel 5 run (Ryan Gibson kick)
K--Javan Williams 19 pass from Kylle Robertson (Connor Shymanski kick)
K--Johnny Jansen 33 run (Shymanski kick)
P--Roger Ingram Jr. 26 pass from McNiel (Gibson kick)
K--Williams 40 pass from Robertson (Shymanski kick)
K--Jansen 7 run (Shymanski kick)
P--McNiel 1 run (Gibson kick)
K--Austin Gutierrez 20 pass from Robertson (Shymanski kick)
P--McNiel 1 run (Gibson kick)
P--Safety, quarterback tackled in end zone
RUSHING--P, T. J. Faamausili 20-63, McNiel 15-36, Angel Gutierrez 3-49, Ingram 1-2. K, Jansen 20-152, Robertson 8-24, Liam Ollila 4-20.
PASSING--P, McNiel 19-39-1--252, Brady Ritala 0-1-0--0. K, Robertson 9-16-1--143.
RECEIVING--P, Ingram 8-68, Faamausili 4-108, Spencer Calveard 4-47, Austen Clarke 2-21, Isiah Sprinkle 1-8. K, Austin Gutierrez 4-39, Williams 2-59, Brandon Larsen 2-33, Jim Fowler 1-12.
FIRST DOWNS--P 18, K 16. FUMBLES-LOST--P 3-1, K 3-2. PENALTIES-YARDS--P 10-106, K 2-7.
w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org