The big plays are amazing, breathtaking even.
From a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone to a 99-yard kickoff return to get things rockin’ after halftime, the Chiawana Riverhawks do spectacular things with seemingly routine ease.
But at the end of the day, if you own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, it doesn’t leave the other team much real estate for success.
The Riverhawks chunked off about 10 yards a run while holding Moses Lake to less than 3, rolling over the Chiefs for a 52-13 victory Saturday afternoon in a Class 4A first-round state playoff game at Edgar Brown Stadium.
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Clifton Lozano ran for 234 yards on 22 carries, scoring on runs of 52 and 9 yards. Dre Dorton scored on a 34-yard pass play, Deion Singleton on that spectacular catch in the back of the end zone. Isaiah Richie went 99 yards on the opening kickoff of the second half, and Nate Murillo returned a fumble 67 yards for the final score.
“We pride ourselves in how we can score and how we stop people from scoring,” said defensive tackle Austin Arndt.
It was a big-play barrage that left the visiting Chiefs (7-4) wide eyed and moved the Riverhawks (10-1) into the state quarterfinals.
Chiawana will stay on this side of the mountains next week, making a trip to Wenatchee to play in the Apple Bowl against the Panthers (9-2), a 33-31 winner over Gig Harbor on Saturday.
The game is set for 1 p.m. next Saturday and is a rematch of Chiawana’s 48-7 win in Wenatchee six weeks ago.
“They’re going to want revenge after that (earlier) game,” Riverhawks center Chandler Newell said. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park.”
It wasn’t a walk in the park against Moses Lake either, at least not to start with. The Chiefs had success early with their read-option spread offense, though none of it came on the ground. Instead, quarterback Easton Castro kept hitting his rangy receivers, Nick Sutherland and Brett Moser, on short passes in the flats, and their 7- to 12-yard gains sustained some drives.
Moses Lake even got on the board first when a Chiawana defensive back gambled and lost trying to pick off a pass over the middle, leaving the Chiefs’ Tyson Karstetter to run uncontested for a 55-yard score with 4:17 left in the first.
But that was went the Riverhawks turned on the jets.
On Chiawana’s first snap after the Moses Lake touchdown, Lozano had a clear path to the sideline and made a nice cutback 20 yards from the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown.
“When I see him run by me, it’s like, ‘Sweet. Keep going, Snoop,’ ” Newell said. “We pride ourselves on our running game. Zone and counter, that’s what we do.”
One-play scoring drives, that’s something else they do.
Lozano’s was the first, and after Alex Weber recovered a fumble in Moses Lake territory on the Chiefs’ next possession, the Riverhawks went one-and-done again. Dorton broke free over the middle on a pass from Joey Zamora, ran through a couple tackles to get to the outside and find the end zone.
Only 73 seconds had come off the clock since Moses Lake’s score, and Chiawana suddenly was in full control.
Singleton ended the first half with a 4-yard TD grab worth of SportsCenter, Richie opened the second half with his 99-yarder. Boom, 28-10.
Lozano scores again, Matt Winn kicks a 25-yard field goal. Bam, 38-13 after three quarters. Josh Wilson broke off a 34-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and Murillo went 67 yards to close it all out.
It was dizzying. Riverhawks coach Steve Graff just wishes it were a little more consistent.
“You can’t get complacent in these games,” he said, pointing to three 15-yard penalties on the defense and a few too many 5-yard chippies.
“That’s what it takes to be one of the top echelon teams,” he added. “You have to (be great) the whole game.”
Moses Lake 7 3 3 0 — 13
Chiawana 14 7 17 14 — 52
ML—Tyson Karstetter 55 pass from Easton Castro (Rehn Reiley kick), 4:17
C—Clifton Lozano 52 run (Matt Winn kick), 4:03
C—Dre Dorton 34 pass from Joey Zamora (Winn kick), 3:04
ML—FG Reiley 26, 4:38
C—Deion Singleton 1 pass from Zamora (Winn kick), 0:00
C—Isaiah Richie 99 kickoff return (Winn kick), 11:47
C—Lozano 9 run (Winn kick), 8:37
ML—FG Reiley 26, 4:35
C—FG Winn 25, :15
C—Josh Wilson 34 run (Winn kick), 11:00
C—Nate Murillo 67 fumble return (Winn kick), 5:44
RUSHING—ML, Castro 16-14, Jordan Lacelle 13-25, Nathan Ball 7-25, Nick Sutherland 1-34. C, Lozano 22-234, Wilson 1-34, Andrew Vargas 3-18, Alex Weber 2-10, Zamora 1-(minus 11).
PASSING—ML, Castro 18-25-0—180, Brett Moser 0-1-0—0. C, Zamora 8-15-0—77.
RECEIVING—ML, Sutherland 9-62, Moser 5-37, Karstetter 2-60, Kevin Cosper 2-21. C, Singleton 4-24, Dorton 3-47, Richie 1-6.
FIRST DOWNS—ML 16, C 14. FUMBLES-LOST—ML 4-2, C 0-0. PENALTIES-YARDS—ML 10-52, C 11-100.