It was a stunned group of Southridge football players who lined up on the sideline at Lampson Stadium on Friday night for the postgame handshake with Mt. Spokane.
They weren’t alone.
In a game of massive momentum swings and break-away big plays, the lead changed hands three times over the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds. Unfortunately for the Suns, it was the visiting Wildcats who had the last say.
Mike Schupp barreled in from the 1 in Mt. Spokane’s heavy-jumbo package with 4 seconds left on the clock, completing a remarkable finish and improbable comeback for the Wildcats in a 34-30 win over the Suns.
The loss ended the season for Southridge (5-5), while the Greater Spokane League team advances to the state playoffs and will face ...
Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt was too stunned to talk, and why not? Only a few minutes earlier, his Suns seemed to have victory in their hands after seeing it seemingly swiped away so many times.
Kadin Diaz scored from a yard out for the Suns with 1:38 to play, culminating a two-minute, 56-yard drive. Diaz turned in the big play earlier in the possession, a 41-yard rumble down the sideline on the drive’s second play. Quarterback Conner Grigg then hit Brenden Kelly on a 10-yard slant down to the 1, and Diaz scored on the next play.
With just 1:38 left on the clock and 80 yards to go for the run-oriented Wildcats (8-2), a comeback seemed long odds. But not to Mt. Spokane’s dynamic quarterback Stu Stiles, who gashed the Suns for 130 yards on the ground.
“I walked into the huddle and said, ‘Let’s win this,’ ” said Stiles, who delivered his most critical blows with his arm.
The first came with 40 seconds left and the ball just 15 yards farther down the field. Stiles sent a fluttering prayer down the left sideline that was hauled in by Dillon Madlener, who somehow slipped away from two defensive backs to come down with a 29-yard gain down to the Southridge 36. Stiles delivered another first-down throw and clocked the ball with 17.2 seconds left.
Stiles then found Madlener again down the left sideline, this time around the 5. Madlener lunged away from a tackler and landed at the 2, and an unnecessary roughness penalty put the ball on the 1 with 7.2 seconds left.
With a timeout in their pocket, Mt. Spokane took a shot at the end zone, bringing in Schupp, who had scored on runs of 1, 1, and 22 yards on his only other carries of the night.
He added another 1-yard score, and the air went right out of Lampson Stadium.
“Hats off to them,” Stiles said. “They played a great game, and they fought to the end.”
Southridge seemed to be chasing the Wildcats all night, after Mt. Spokane took the opening kickoff and blew through the Suns defense, the start of a 300-yard rushing night for the Spokane team.
Southridge answered that first score in one play — Grigg hitting Kelly on a deep throw out to midfield before the big-play receiver shook free of the corner, escaped the safety coming over and dashed away for a 72-yard score.
It was part of a 223-yard, three-touchdown night for Grigg against a Mt. Spokane team that has struggled against the pass. Kelly caught seven balls for 178 yards and two touchdowns, including a 27-yarder at the end of the third quarter for the Suns’ first lead, 23-20.
Southridge still was ahead and punting away the ball with just over 6 minutes left in the game when the Suns gave up a big break. Punter Masceo Ealy-Thomas started toward the right sideline for a rugby-style punt, then continued toward the line of scrimmage when it looked like their was enough daylight to convert the fourth-and-4. He made a diving try at the sticks, but came up just short, giving Mt. Spokane the ball at the Southridge 39 with 6:09 left.
The Wildcats scored on a fourth-down play, setting up the remarkable finish.
Brandon Zane caught Grigg’s other TD throw on an 18-yard toss. Diaz ran for 112 of his 118 yards in the second half, including a 16-yard run on his first carry in the third quarter to top 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight season.
Mt. Spokane 14 6 0 14 — 34
Southridge 7 9 7 7 — 30
MS—Roy Hyatt 8 run (Tyler Gyllenhammer kick), 8:40
S—Brenden Kelly 72 pass from Conner Grigg (Nate Newbry kick), 8:17
MS—Mike Schupp 1 run (Gyllenhammer kick), :28
MS—Schupp 1 run (kick blocked), 4:27
S—Brandon Zane 18 pass from Grigg (kick fail), :44
S—FG Newbry 38, :00
S—Kelly 27 pass from Grigg (Newbry kick), :11
MS—Schupp 22 run (Gyllenhammer kick), 3:43
S—Kadin Diaz 1 run (Newbry kick), 1:38
MS—Schupp 1 run (Gyllenhammer kick), :04
RUSHING—MS, Stu Stiles 20-130, Reed Siclair 12-68, Hyatt 16-68, Schupp 3-25, Dakota Hipes 1-3, Carlos Riojas 1-6. SR, Diaz 18-118, Grigg 6-21.
PASSING—MS, Stiles 11-18-1—155. SR, Grigg 14-25-2—223.
RECEIVING—MS, Dillon Madlener 4-90, Hyatt 4-35, Siclair 2-18, Bryce Zimmerer 1-12. SR, Kelly 7-178, Clay Gonzalez 2-21, Diaz 2-11, Masceo Ealy-Thomas 2-15, Zane 1-18.
FIRST DOWNS—MS 20, SR 12. FUMBLES-LOST—MS 2-2, SR 1-0. PENALTIES-YARDS—MS 2-10, SR 3-11.