The Chiawana High defense came into Friday’s crossover against Gonzaga Prep with a giant chip on its shoulder.
A year after watching the Bullpups run up an astounding 602 yards on the ground in a Class 4A state play-in rout, the Riverhawks vowed history would not repeat itself.
And boy were they right.
Chiawana dominated Gonzaga Prep in every aspect, rolling to a 42-14 victory at Edgar Brown Stadium and locking up a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs.
“Not only do we have more experience this year,” Chiawana senior Alex Weber said. “But we came in with a chip on our shoulder. My sophomore year we also lost in the crossover, and we decided to get rid of that two-year curse.
“This is probably the happiest moment of my life. I’m looking forward to going to the (Tacoma) Dome.”
Chiawana will host Moses Lake in the first round of the playoffs at a time and date to be determined.
On Friday, the Riverhawks outmuscled the Bullpups from the opening whistle.
The defense played strong assignment football to shut down the Gonzaga Prep read option offense, holding the Bullpups to just 56 yards and four first downs on the ground.
Chiawana led 23-0 at halftime, holding Gonzaga Prep to negative-4 yards and two first downs, opening up a commanding lead they would not relinquish.
“After last year, we were a little nervous,” Weber said referencing the 600-plus yards in last year’s crossover. “But it starts with the defensive line. They sprung us forward and did the job.”
While the defense was stopping everything thrown its way, the Chiawana offense was doing what it’s done all season — roll over anyone in its way.
Senior running back Clifton Lozano rushed 39 times for 294 yards and three touchdowns, while Austin Urlacher racked up 124 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown before leaving with a leg injury in the third quarter.
Quarterback Joey Zamora threw for 108 yards and two touchdowns, and the Riverhawks even converted two fake punts in the first half — both on runs by Dre Dorton — as they could do nothing wrong against the overmatched team from Spokane.
Zamora went to work early, completing touchdown passes to Isaiah Richie on a 35-yard pass, and then to Cortez Ruiz on a 24-yard play-action pass.
Urlacher then scored from 7-yards out to take a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Gonzaga Prep had no answer. The Bullpups are not built to pass their way back into games and it showed, as they completed just six passes and four of those came late in the game.
Chiawana continued to pour it on, scoring on a 2-yard run by Lozano on its first possession of the half.
After the Bullpups finally got on the board, it was all Lozano.
He carried the ball all eight times on the ensuing drive, capping it off with a 1-yard touchdown run. On the Riverhawks’ final four drives he carried the ball 24 of their final 26 plays, finishing with a career-high in yards.
The victory, combined with Richland High’s win over Ferris, did more than assert the Mid-Columbia Conference’s dominance over the Greater Spokane League, it also gave the Riverhawks a much clearer path to reaching the Tacoma Dome.
They will face Moses Lake, the second-place out of a weak CBBN and then play either a No. 2 team from the west side or Wenatchee in the quarterfinals.