It must have seemed improbable, even impossible, to the Kamiakin Braves sideline.
Here they were, outstripping the Hanford football team in nearly every category Thursday night, yet constantly chasing the Falcons on the scoreboard thanks to a couple big plays early.
But the Braves made a few big plays of their own in the second half, swinging back momentum and holding on for a 33-27 win over the a tough Hanford squad on a muggy, sticky night at Lampson Stadium.
Umid Ramizov broke off a 48-yard run and Casey Brandon scored on a 45-yard slant-and-run as the Braves scored three unanswered touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.
Combined with a 1-yard TD plunge by quarterback Kylle Robertson, it spelled a close Mid-Columbia Conference win for the Braves and heartbreak for the Falcons.
Hanford, coming off a 43-7 loss to Chiawana last week, took the early lead when Kendrick Skinner blocked Connor Shymanski’s 23-yard field-goal try on Kamiakin’s opening drive, and teammate Ben Kelly scooped up the ball and ran 85 yards down the Kamiakin sideline for a shocking 7-0 lead.
Kamiakin answered back with another long drive. And as Ramizov scored from a yard out at the end of the first quarter, the Braves had outgained the Falcons 154-0 but still were in a dog fight.
Hanford pulled ahead again when Tyler Cowen, who last week scored on a 99-yard pass play, struck on a 63-yarder from quarterback Aaron Enderlin, making a nifty dipsy-do move at the 15 to split a pair of defenders who had caught up.
Kamiakin struck back as Robertson found Hunter Shauers on the same slant play, the second time hitting his receiver in stride for a 35-yard score.
The Braves were sniffing up another touchdown and the lead at the end of the half when “Big Play” Cowen came through again with an interception in the back of the end zone.
Hanford scored on the opening drive of the third quarter, again Cowen coming up with a 33-yard touchdown reception.
Down 21-13 despite thoroughly outgaining the Falcons, the Braves took a little air out of the ball and started feeding the ball to Ramizov up the middle. Behind the solid blocking of center Sam Mulliner and guards Hayden Burris and Tristan Lindstrom, seems started opening up and Ramizov churned off runs of 48, 11 and 16 yards.
The physical play against a tough but thin Hanford defense — with the humid night bringing no end of cramping players — turned the tied.
Ramizov finished with 92 yards in the second half and 120 for the game. Robertson threw for 344 yards on 20-for-36 passing, with Brandon, Shauers and Cam Rathbun combining for 15 catches and 320 yards.
Enderlin was 14-for-27 for 202 yards and one interception, and Cowen caught six balls for 137.
Hanford 7 7 7 6 — 27
Kamiakin 7 6 6 14 — 33
H—Ben Kelly 85 return of blocked kick (Dymien Marks kick)
K—Umidf Ramizov 1 run (Connor Shymanski kick)
H—Tyler Cowen 63 pass from Aaron Enderlin (Marks kick)
K—Hunter Shauers 35 pass from Kylle Robertson (kick blocked)
H—Cowen 33 pass from Enderlin (Marks kick)
K—Ramizov 48 run (pass fail)
K—Robertson 1 run (Shymanski kick)
K—Casey Brandon 45 pass from Robertson (Shymanski kick)
H—Malik Slack 34 run (kick blocked)
RUSHING—H, Slack 14-61, Enderlin 3-13, Elwood Davis 4-1. K, Ramizov 21-120, Robertson 9-53, Justin Larsen 1-3.
PASSING—H, Enderlin 14-27-1—202. K, Robertson 20-36-1—344.
RECEIVING—H, Cowen 6-137, Kelly 3-41, Jordan Reyes 5-44. K, Shauers 5-102, Brandon 5-104, Cam Rathbun 5-114, Austin Gutierrez 1-(minus 3), Jace Navejas 3-27, Ramizov 1-0.