PASCO -- In a game featuring the top two running backs in CBBN 4A, it was the Chiawana defense that carried the night.
The Riverhawks grinded out a 17-7 victory against Richland on Friday at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
"We take pride in our defense," Chiawana linebacker Nick Vincent said. "Defense wins championships. We feel we are capable of stopping teams and shutting them down."
Except for one play Friday, Vincent and his teammates did just that.
Bombers running back Jake McKinney scored on a 58-yard run on his team's fourth play, and it looked early on like the anticipated offensive fireworks would live up to expectations.
But it was not to be for Richland.
After the Bombers gained 73 yards in the first quarter, Chiawana held them to 93 yards and two first downs the rest of the way.
"(On McKinney's run) we just broke containment and he just got around me," Vincent said. "Most of the problem was adjusting to the game speed. Their offensive line is really fast, and it took us a little bit.
"We were going to try and play our base defense, but they were pounding on us. So we loaded the box and stopped them."
While the Chiawana defense was slowing McKinney -- who rushed for 142 yards on 15 carries -- the Richland defensive front was doing the same to Jordan Downing.
With Downing struggling to break anything big, quarterback Lucas Graff took advantage.
Graff threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to CJ Edrington and finished 16-for-24 for 184 yards.
"They were expecting us to run all day, and we were able to take advantage with the play-action pass," Graff said. "We took a methodical approach because their defense is great. We had to ground and pound and drive down the field. The key was the offensive line gave us great protection."
Following McKinney's opening score, the Riverhawks went on a 11-play drive, covering 78 yards and taking 5 minutes and 49 seconds off the clock. Graff's touchdown pass capped the drive to tie the game 7-7.
"Richland has good defense up front," Chiawana head coach Steve Graff said. "We couldn't keep them blocked well up front and they put eight in the box, so we played some pitch and catch."
After the Chiawana defense forced a three-and-out, the Riverhawks went back to work.
Downing scored on a 1-yard plunge to cap an eight-play, 52-yard drive.
"Downing is a beast," Lucas Graff said. "He is hard to bring down and he runs hard. We trust him with the game."
Downing's ability to run hard was ever present in the second half, as he became the human clock mover. The senior finished with 144 yards on 35 carries with the score.
"We controlled the line at times," Richland coach Mike Neidhold said, "but we knew this was going to be a 48-minute game and that's what happened."
Richland struggled in the second half, as the Bombers were forced to play catch up. They had trouble passing the ball and couldn't get McKinney going.
"(Chiawana) is two-dimensional," Neidhold said. "Luc was able to take some pressure off of Downing and we couldn't reciprocate on offense. We have to figure how to get that going. It puts too much pressure on our front six."
With the victory, Chiawana remains undefeated and continues to pass all strong tests in its path.
"I'm happiest that we battled against a good football team," coach Graff said.
While Chiawana went home happy, Richland has some work to do after suffering its first loss of the season.
"As I told the guys in the locker room," Neidhold said, "this wasn't the game of the millennium like it was billed to be. It was just one game and their is lots of season left."
* Craig Craker: 509-582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chiawana 17, Richland 7
Richland 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Chiawana 7 7 0 3 -- 17
Rich--Jake McKinney 58 run (Kevin Garza kick).
Chi--CJ Edrington 3 pass from Lucas Graff (Pilate Lopaya kick).
Chi--Jordan Downing run (Lopaya kick).
Chi--FG Lopaya 34.
RUSHING--R, Jake McKinney 15-142, Colter Quick 4-17, B.K. Robinson 4-4; C, Jordan Downing 35-144, Graff 5-(-15).
PASSING--R, Quick 1-6-1--3; C, Graff 16-24-0--184.
RECEIVING--R, Grant Gallinger 1-3; C, Miquiyah Zamora 5-71, Brett Adamson 4-54, Geramy Duckworth 3-31, CJ Edrington 3-31, Hunter Davidson 1-0.
FIRST DOWNS--R, 4; C, 17. FUMBLES-LOST--R, 1-1; C, 1-0 PENALTIES-YARDS--R, 7-65; C, 6-61.