The Prosser Mustangs knew what they had to do against the Ellensburg Bulldogs in their Class 2A state football quarterfinal matchup Saturday at Lions Field — stop, or at least contain, Ellensburg running back Gabe Caskey, who terrorized the Central Washington Athletic Conference this year with over 2,000 rushing yards.
The good news was they did that, holding Caskey to under 100 yards on 12 carries. The bad news was the Mustangs found out Garrett Hull was a playmaker, too.
The Bulldogs quarterback rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown, passed for another score and returned an interception for a touchdown as Ellensburg returned to the state semifinals for the second year in a row with a 34-20 win over Prosser.
“We felt like we were very, very prepared,” Mustangs coach Benji Sonnichsen said. “We started off really well. In the first half our offense was run to perfection. As the game went on, (Ellensburg) showed us some elements that made us get away from our game plan.”
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The game had some familiar echoes of a Week 7 matchup between the two teams, which resulted in a 21-14 Ellensburg win. In that game, Prosser took the lead twice, but it was the Bulldogs who had the final say.
The Mustangs had the first word Saturday as well, as Adrian Lochrie scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns to cap an 11-play, 59-yard drive that put Prosser up 7-0. After Caskey answered back with a 2-yard touchdown run on Ellensburg’s next drive, Lochrie answered him right back with a 2-yard TD plunge with 8:06 left in the second quarter.
The teams traded scores again before the end of the first half, and Prosser entered the locker room with the lead 20-13. But it was Ellensburg that turned up the gas in the second half, scoring the final 21 points of the game.
“We came out really strong in the first half. It looked like we wanted to get it done,” said Lochrie, who finished with 130 yards on 22 carries. “But we know they have a bunch of athletes, and they came out in the second half with a stronger mentality.”
Caskey didn’t have his usual breakout game, but he did score two touchdowns — the second on a 48-yard dash off left tackle to tie the game at 20 with 4:58 left in the third. It was Hull who then took over.
Hull, a three-sport star who also excels at basketball and baseball, made the play of the game on Prosser’s first drive of the fourth quarter. With the game deadlocked at 20, Hull intercepted a pass from Mustangs quarterback Tanner Bolt at the Prosser 18 and returned it easily for a score to give Ellensburg its first lead.
“The wide receiver went out on a wheel route, and I saw the running back peel off into the flat,” Hull said, playing a hunch on where the Mustangs were going. His judgement was rewarded with a 27-20 Bulldogs lead — their first of the game.
“The great thing about (Hull) is he’s such a great competitor. He loves those big moments,” Ellensburg coach Randy Affholter said.
Hull sealed the win with one final score, an 8-yard touchdown scamper to cap a 16-play, 84-yard drive that chewed almost eight minutes off the clock and put Ellensburg up by two touchdowns with just 1:39 left.
The Mustangs started from their 36 yard line, and Bolt led Prosser across midfield and close to the red zone but couldn’t crack the end zone.
“Looking back, I’m happy we got to do everything we got to do,” said Lochrie, a senior. “We didn’t win state, but we grew as a family and as a team.”
P—Adrian Lochrie 1 run (Javier Diaz kick)
E—Gabe Caskey 5 run (Cristian Barrientos kick)
P—Lochrie 2 run (kick failed)
E—Nick Broderius 9 pass from Garrett Hull (kick failed)
P—Lochrie 8 run (Diaz kick)
E—Caskey 48 run (Barrientos kick)
E—Hull 18 interception return (Barrientos kick)
E—Hull 8 run (Barrientos kick)
RUSHING — P, Lochrie 22-130, Cardell Jones 8-64, Tanner Bolt 3-16, Kason Blair 5-(minus 2), Thomas Niemeyer 6-35. E, Brayton Leach 12-65, Caskey 12-88, Hull 10-63, Benny Lee 1-40.
PASSING — P, Blair 2-5-1-19, Bolt 6-11-0-72, Jones 6-7-0-26. E, Hull 9-17-0-51.
RECEIVING — P, Jones 4-48, Lochrie 2-6, J.J. Martin 3-21, Diaz 3-25, Michael Kernan 1-8, Blair 1-9. E, Bryce Helgeson 2-4, Lee 3-14, Leach 1-(minus 2), Caskey 2-26, Broderius 1-9.
FIRST DOWNS—P 18, E 14. FUMBLES-LOST—P 2-1, E 2-0. PENALTIES—P 7-70, E 3-30.