Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you try to stop certain players.
Their best will always come out with the game on the line.
That was Ellensburg senior running back Gabe Caskey, who rushed for a game-high 247 yards on 21 carries in the Bulldogs’ biggest game of the year, a 21-14 Central Washington Athletic Conference win at Prosser.
“He was it tonight,” Mustang’s coach Benji Sonnichsen said. “He’s a special player.”
The matchup between the state’s No.-3 and -4 ranked Class 2A teams promised some big-time offensive players. But the biggest by far was Caskey, who scored all three of Ellensburg’s touchdowns in a game that will almost certainly decide the CWAC champion.
“This was amazing. To share this with my teammates is amazing,” said Caskey, who broke off runs of 77 and 88 yards on one of his biggest nights of the season. But he wasn’t about to take credit for it.
“Great blocking. That’s all there is to it,” he said. “Great blocking.”
Prosser was hoping to corral the 5-foot-11, 185-pound back and did a good job in the first half, holding Caskey to just 21 yards on his first nine carries. The Mustangs started strong, pulling out to a 7-0 lead on their first series after Isaiah Sanders slid off right tackle for a 33-yard gain to set up his 8-yard touchdown plunge with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs drove the length of the field on its first drive of the second quarter, but quarterback Kason Blair was intercepted in the end zone by Bryce Helgeson. That set up Caskey’s 77-yard touchdown run three plays later, which tied the score at 7.
Near the end of the second half, Bulldogs’ quarterback Garrett Hull drove his team into Prosser territory with less than a minute on the clock but committed a critical error when Isaiah Sanders jumped a screen pass and returned it to the Ellensburg 1-yard line with just 1 second on the clock.
Sanders then punched in his second score of the day to give the Mustangs a 14-7 lead.
It was then Prosser might have felt they had the Bulldogs right where they wanted them.
“At one point, yeah,” Sanders said after rushing for 70 yards on 14 carries despite playing hurt. “At the same time it was anyone’s game.”
Caskey took over in the second half, rushing for 145 yards and two scores while his defense pitched a shutout.
“It’s just a testament to both programs,” Sonnichsen said. “Ellensburg has done a great job developing their program. Hats off to them.”
Sonnichsen believes his team can bounce back from the loss, which drops them to 6-1 overall, and make a playoff run.
“We’re hoping to see them again,” Sonnichsen said.