In unfamiliar territory, down 28-21 in the fourth quarter against No. 15 Ephrata at Centralia Tiger Stadium, No. 2 W.F. West head coach Dan Hill rolled the dice.
After a botched snap set up fourth-and-2 on the goal line, the Bearcats ran a pitch out wide to Tucker Land, who walked into the end zone easily to bring the Bearcats within a point of a Tigers team looking for a first round upset.
Instead of tying the game, Hill trotted his offense out for a two-point conversion, and ran the exact same play.
And he got the exact same result.
The Bearcats went on to hold on, 29-28, to defeat the Tigers Friday night and advance to the 2A state quarterfinals next week. It’s W.F. West’s first victory in the state playoffs in 11 years.
“It was just putting total faith in our line, they put together a drive right,” Hill said. “For all the hard work that they’ve done — that they could get the job done for us and they did it the whole drive. They put it in for us on the fourth-and-2 and I trusted them to do it again on the two-point conversion. I’m glad I made the call because our boys got the job done.”
It was an up-and-down game for a Bearcats side that hasn’t been tested much this season since a Week 2 loss to No. 1 Lynden back in September. While W.F. West rolled to an early lead — after quarterback Gavin Fugate found Gage Brumfield for a score on its opening drive and then Land found the end zone on a short drive in the second quarter, — it wouldn’t last.
The Tigers ripped off 21 unanswered points to briefly take the lead, hurting the Bearcats on the outside on offense and stymying a W.F. West offense that had been humming through the first half.
“Ephrata, my hats off to them,” Hill said. “They are not a 15-seed. I didn’t think they were a 15-seed the entire time I watched tape this week. They have a team of dudes that can play ball and they want to come downhill at you and hit and boy they can. I’m happy for our boys after the adjustments we made.”
Hitting the Tigers on the outside with designed runs from Fugate and Land, the Bearcats got back into a rhythm once again led by its offensive line.
The Bearcats rushed for 135 yards, and Land had 107 of those with three touchdowns.
After W.F. West took the lead with a few minutes to go, the defense made two separate stands to seal the win, focusing on containing the outside, and Tiger speedster Joshua Green.
The win moves the Bearcats into a state quarterfinal date with No. 10 Sedro-Woolley next week, who upset Evergreen Conference runner-up Tumwater on the road, 30-22, Friday night.
“It’s huge, any time you’re in the playoffs it's a special thing,” Hill said. “I don’t care if you’re a 1-seed or a 16, to be able to keep playing and living on borrowed time, it’s a special thing. There’s nothing like playoff football, I’m so happy for my boys that they get to go another week and we get to do this again.”