It took one half of football Friday night before the Chiawana Riverhawks settled down to roll past Richland, winning their Mid-Columbia Conference season opener 38-7.
Sophomore quarterback JP Zamora completed passes to six different Chiawana receivers, including a TD pass to four of them. And the Riverhawks defensive unit got in on the fun, holding the Bombers to just 119 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers.
“Our coaches really talked to us at halftime,” said Zamora.
We’re sure they did.
Chiawana went into the Fran Rish Stadium locker room at intermission holding a 12-7 lead. That was despite rolling up 91 yards in penalties and the offensive unit looking out of sync.
Richland had jumped up early, as Bombers QB Harrison Westover found speedy Ben Fewel on a slant pattern for a 47-yard touchdown play and a 7-0 Richland lead.
Zamora eventually responded with two scoring strikes – a 36-yarder to Kobe Singleton and a 6-yard loft to Dion Lee.
Richland coach Mike Neidhold said he felt good at halftime only being down one score.
“I told our guys the game hadn’t decided itself yet,” Neidhold said.
At the other end of the grandstand, Chiawana coach Steve Graff told his guys to shake it off.
“We said, ‘OK, that’s over with,’” said Graff. “You hope they don’t look like it’s the first game of the season. But it happens. They came out in the second half, settled down and went to work.”
Zamora opened the third quarter with a 30-yard scoring strike to Kobe Young, and 103 seconds later the defensive unit struck.
Westover took the snap in the shotgun formation and immediately had to run to his left when Chiawana sophomore defensive lineman Isaiah Anderson – a state champion wrestler this past February – broke through the line of scrimmage and made a beeline for the quarterback.
Anderson just about had the takedown when he slapped the ball loose from Westover’s hands. Defensive lineman Bridger Feldmann scooped up the loose ball and rambled into the end zone from 8 yards away.
In a span of 1 minute, 43 seconds, Chiawana had gone from leading 12-7 to 24-7, and it was never close again.
“Our defense gets after it,” said Graff. “We send five guys every time.”
The Riverhawks added two fourth quarter scores – a 17-yard pass from Zamora to Gabe Schilz, and a 21-yard run from backup Sam Buggs in the waning minutes.
Zamora looked impressive in the second half, and he finished with 193 yards passing.
“The coaches told us at halftime to stick to what we do best,” said Zamora, who appreciates the talented receivers he has to throw to. “It’s crazy. Every single one of those guys are D-1 recruits. I just set up, looking for the mismatches.
”While Graff enjoyed the victory, it becomes bittersweet because it’s against his best friend.
“I feel bad, because it’s fun to play against those guys,” he said. “But Mike told me after the game ‘Now we know what we have to do to get better.’ They’ll get it fixed.”
“We need to get better,” he said. “It’s just one game. They’re aware of what the task is. They’re aware of what it means to play here. They’re gonna be fine.”
NOTES: Unofficially, Schilz had 97 yards rushing. … Fewel had a monster game for the Bombers, catching 10 passes for 110 yards and the TD. … Riley Cissne made a strong debut at LB for Chiawana, credited with 4 tackles (2 for loss), a QB sack, a pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. … Sophomore Gerardo Alonso added 7 tackles for the Riverhawks, while junior DB Aiden Mason had two interceptions. … LB Sam Stanfield led Richland with 3 tackles (2 for loss), and a QB sack. … Chiawana plays host to Kennewick (a 17-13 winner over Hanford on Friday) next Friday at Edgar Brown Stadium. … Richland visits Hermiston next Friday. Hermiston lost 27-20 to Pasco on Friday night.
RIVERHAWKS 38, BOMBERS 7
Chiawana 6 6 12 14 -- 38
Richland 7 0 0 0 -- 7
SCORING PLAYS: Rich – Ben Fewel 47 pass from Harrison Westover (Joseph Weissenfels kick)Chia – Kobe Singleton 36 pass from JP Zamora (pass failed)Chia – Dion Lee 6 pass from Zamora (run failed)Chia – Kobe Young 30 pass from Zamora (pass failed)Chia – Bridger Feldmann 8 fumble return (pass failed)Chia – Gabe Schilz 17 pass from Zamora (Gerardo Alonso kick)Chia – Sam Buggs 21 run (Alonso kick)
RUSHING – Chia, Schilz 24-97, Buggs 2-23, Zamora 4-minus 10, Total 30-111. Rich, Marshaun Davis-Copeland 7-29, Kainoa Steward 7-3, Sam Stanfield 1-0, Team 1-minus 16, Westover 2-minus 30, Total 18-minus 14.
PASSING – Chia, Zamora 14-27-1-202. Rich, Westover 19-40-2-134, Cameron Kitchens 1-1-0-minus 1.
RECEIVING – Chia, Singleton 2-43, Young 2-37, Cameron Breier 4-57, Schilz 3-31, Lee 2-19, Feldmann 1-15. Rich, Fewel 10-110, Peter Sinclair 1-9, Ben Kostorowski 3-9, Soren Baney 1-3, Kayden Roxburgh 2-2, Davis-Copeland 3-0.
FIRST DOWNS – Chia 12, Rich 10.
PENALTIES-YARDS – Chia 13-128, Rich 6-30.
FUMBLES-LOST – Chia 1-0, Rich 3-3.
Pasco 27, Hermiston 20: Armani Reyes connected on an 11-yard TD pass with Tucker Philmlee with 4:29 to play to give Pasco a win over visiting Hermiston.
Reyes finished the game with 210 yards passing, including a 56-yard TD pass to Des Licon. Licon led Pasco receivers with seven catches for 134 yards. Running back Sergio Avina added 62 yards rushing.
Garrett Walchli led Hermiston with five catches for 92 yards, including a game-opening 6-yard TD catch from Chase Elliott.
In other games, Myles Mayovsky scored on a 3-yard TD run in the second half, and host Kennewick kept Hanford out of the end zone from there on, beating the Falcons 17-13. In another game, Greg Lupfer won in his coaching debut for Walla Walla, which beat visiting Southridge 36-17.
▪ Sunnyside 35, Prosser 13: Sophomore QB Logan Rodriguez passed for 200 yards as visiting Sunnyside beat Prosser in a non-league game. Prosser QB Haden Hicks left the game with a shoulder injury. He returned to the sidelines later with his right arm in a sling. Case Reinmuth led the Mustangs offensively with four catches for 102 yards.
▪ Othello 3, Connell 0: Pat Azevedo’s 25-yard field goal as time expired gave host Othello a non-league win. Isaac Barragan led the Huskies with 151 yards rushing on 27 carries, while Isaiah Perez added 59 yards rushing on 12 carries. Connell had 30 offensive plays for just 74 yards.
▪ College Place 60, Highland 0: Brian Jerald tossed five TD passes, four of them to Tanner Schreindl (who caught eight passes for 102 yards) en routes to a non league win. Joel Jameson added 3 catches for 121 yards.
▪ Tri-Cities Prep 79, Liberty Christian 6: Dante Maiuri passed for 240 yards and five touchdowns to lead visiting Tri-Cities Prep to an EWAC victory over Liberty Christian. The Jaguars used a 42-point second quarter to put the game away. Maiuri found Landon Amato nine times for 130 yards. Amato also had three interceptions. Davian Iniguez added 96 yards rushing for Prep. Brad Flowers was a bright spot for Liberty Christian, catching six passes for 102 yards.
Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor of the Herald.