WALLA WALLA -- On paper, Walla Walla senior Jonah Hoe was the best running back in the Mid-Columbia Conference heading into Friday's showdown with Southridge at Borleske Stadium.
By the time it was done, Kadin Diaz, the Suns' running back put his stamp on the claim of toughest runner in the league, leading Southridge to a 20-14 victory.
Diaz, playing with a dislocated finger, carried 36 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-breaking 48-yard scamper down the right sideline in the third quarter to put the Suns up 21-7.
"I'm very proud. We got through a tough loss last week and tried to use that as a teachable moment," Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt said of the Suns' 42-13 loss to Hermiston. "Sometimes it's good to get knocked down. We practiced really, really hard this week."
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One of the key objectives was to keep Hoe, who ran for a school record 436 yards last week, from breaking any big plays. And the Southridge defense was more than up to the task, 'holding' the Blue Devils' dynamic runner to 110 yards on 22 carries.
"You have to concentrate on limiting him, because you're not going to stop him," Reiboldt said. "We tried to focus on the swarming mentality on defense."
The Suns defensive ends -- Kevin Del-Angel and Kellen Hietala -- crashed down hard from the outside to keep Hoe contained. Hoe didn't score any touchdowns, and his biggest run of the night was 13 yards.
"We were pretty excited knowing we were going to make some plays," Del-Angel said after recording six tackles, including two losses. "There was a lot of intensity and a lot of pride."
Diaz put Southridge on the board first in the first quarter, and quarterback Conner Grigg found Brendan Kelly wide open up the right hash for a 68-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter, opening up a 13-0 Suns' lead.
Kelly led all receivers with three catches for 95 yards.
But Walla Walla got back into it after Aaron Eggart intercepted Grigg early in the fourth quarter, returning it to the Southridge 6-yard line. Blue Devils quarterback Dakota Turner ran it in on the next play to cut the lead to 13-7.
Grigg kept a solid perspective after the play, however.
"You just have to forget about it," said Grigg, who completed 4-of-10 passes for 96 yards. "This win shows we can compete against good teams and win."
But it was all Diaz on the Suns' next drive. On his sixth carry of the drive from the Wa-Hi 48, Diaz blasted across the line of scrimmage, ran over a would-be tackler along the right sideline and outran a safety to the end zone to put his team up 21-7 with 8:26 left in the game.
Walla Walla tightened things up with 1:34 left, as Turner connected with Darnell Handcox for 25 yards in the right corner of the end zone, cutting the lead to 20-14. But the ensuing onside kick was smothered by Southridge, which ran out the clock for the win.
Southridge 20, Walla Walla 14
Southridge 7 0 6 7 -- 20
Walla Walla 0 0 0 14 -- 14
SR--Kadin Diaz 14 run (Conner Mertens kick)
SR--Brendan Kelly 68 pass from Conner Grigg (Mertens kick)
WW--Dakota Turner 6 run (Dean Atkinson kick)
SR--Diaz 48 run (Mertens kick)
WW--Darnell Handcox 25 pass from Turner (Atkinson kick)
RUSHING--SR, Diaz 36-186, Ealy-Thomas 1-4, Grigg 1-(minus 3). WW, Jonah Hoe 22-110, Stuart Gillin 1-14, Turner 12-28, Zach Gilvey 2-13.
PASSING--SR, Grigg 4-10-1-96. WW, Turner 7-18-0-80.
RECEIVING--SR, Kelly 3-95, Diaz 1-1. WW, Handcox 4-47, Gilvey 1-21, Paul Gilmore 1-14, Hoe 1-(minus 2).
FIRST DOWNS--SR 11, WW 18. FUMBLES-LOST--SR 0-0, WW 1-0. PENALTIES--SR 4-40, WW 5-47.