Last-minute touchdown pushes Montesano past Hoquiam

Monte wins 20-14

You will know which side the storyteller is on by the way he or she will describe Friday night’s epic Montesano-Hoquiam football game at Olympic Stadium.

If the storyteller is from Montesano, the title will be — Defense Prevails.

If the storyteller is from Hoquiam, the title will be — Opportunities Lost.

Hoquiam missed its third field goal of the game, this one in a torrential downpour, with 1:42 left in the contest. Fourth-ranked Montesano got the ball back and marched 80 yards, capped by a game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass play from Trevor Ridgway to Nick Chapman with 12 seconds left, to win, 20-14, in this Evergreen 1A League contest.

“Just your normal Monte-Hoquiam game,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said after the final whistle. “We were very fortunate (to get the ball back). We had a play call, he checked out of it and threw the touchdown to Chappie. What a great play. (Hoquiam) is the best team we’ve faced all year. This was a tremendous test for us and it opened our eyes to how good we can be. They competed so far and it is tough to see either team lose this one.”

“Missed opportunities; we have to make the field goals and get the ball in,” Hoquiam head coach Rick Moore said. “We were not outplayed, to say the least. We have to make those final plays to finish. It is all about the finish. Tonight, (Montesano) is the better team and we played a helluva good football game. It didn’t fall into place.”

Montesano (2-0, 7-0) had the ball back at its 3-yard line with 5 minutes remaining. After two Carson Klinger and one Dakoyta Reninger run, the Bulldogs lost the football. On a botched snap, quarterback Ridgway got the ball to Klinger off the ground for a broken-play run. There, Klinger lost the ball in traffic and Hoquiam freshman defensive lineman Matt Brown recovered it on the Monte 38-yard line.

Hoquiam (2-1, 4-3) had the chance to secure the win. Two Artimus Johnson runs got Hoquiam to the 22-yard line, but a fumbled snap and an incomplete pass brought fourth down at the 26-yard line. Kicker Naz Mazariegos spotted his holder at the 33-yard line for a 43-yard field goal. Into the rain, the kick fell short and gave Montesano the ball at the 20-yard line with 1:42 remaining.

Big runs from Klinger, Ridgway and Nathan Olson moved Montesano into Hoquiam territory. A 13-yard direct snap to Klinger and a 9-yard pitch to Olson got the Bulldogs to the Hoquiam 28-yard line. After a timeout, Ridgway’s rollout on first down fell incomplete. His second-down rollout to the right, however, worked — Chapman got behind the Hoquiam secondary and beat Anthony Nash to the end zone.

Ridgway floated the ball over Nash and into Chapman’s arms for the touchdown, setting off a large Montesano celebration with 12 seconds left. The Bulldogs called timeout to avoid a delay penalty.

“I just wanted to give (Nick) a chance, to get the ball up there to catch it,” said Ridgway, who finished with 182 yards passing on 8-of-16 attempts, two touchdowns and two interceptions. “It was nice (to get the ball back). Our defense really played their hearts out. It was awesome. We played well as a team and played together to win.”

Once these teams put up their first points of the game on consecutive plays, the defenses made their marks.

Montesano struck first with a 30-yard touchdown pass play from Ridgway to Klinger for a 6-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Hoquiam’s Nash returned the kick 80 yards for a touchdown, outrunning the coverage to the right side of the field untouched. Mazariegos hit the PAT kick for a 7-6 lead.

Hoquiam’s defense smothered Montesano for three straight drives, including a long march by the Bulldogs that ended with Ridgway throwing an interception to Brown at the 10-yard line. While the defense stood tall for the Grizzlies, the offense was shuttered by the Bulldogs.

After the kickoff return, Hoquiam had two consecutive drives into the Montesano red zone. However, both ended on missed Mazariegos field goals on fourth down. On the Grizzlies’ final first-half drive, Johnson was stopped on fourth down to give up the ball with seconds remaining. Taylor Rupe, Hayden Klinger and Olson were leading the charge for the Bulldogs.

Even after that, Hoquiam’s first second-half drive ended at the Montesano 1-yard line when Johnson was stopped on fourth down for a pivotal goal-line stand. Rupe smothered Johnson on the play.

“The field position game, (Hoquiam) really won that in the second half,” Jensen added. “We couldn’t get out of it. We didn’t run many in the third quarter, but our defense — it was outstanding. They had goal-line stands to get the ball back so we can score. That’s incredible.”

“We have to cash in, finish,” Moore said. “If we don’t give them the ball, we score. We have to finish. That’s all there is to it.”

Montesano took a 14-7 halftime lead when the Bulldogs got a 44-yard pass play from Ridgway to Tyler Reninger to set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Klinger with 1:22 left in the first half. Hoquiam made Monte play the field position game, with the Bulldogs starting every drive in the second half from inside the 20-yard line — one punt, an interception (Ridgway by Payton Quintanilla), lost fumble and the game-winning touchdown.

Hoquiam finally converted inside the Monte red zone on its fourth trip in — a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Brown on fourth down — for a 14-14 tie with 1:59 left in the third.

In the running game, Johnson finished with 165 yards for Hoquiam, most of them coming in the second half and Klinger added 149 yards rushing and two total touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving).

Brown finished with a rushing touchdown, an interception, a fumble recovery, four pass defenses (batted down at the line of scrimmage) and six tackles for Hoquiam.

On Friday, Hoquiam hosts Hockinson and Montesano travels to Tenino.

Last-minute touchdown pushes Montesano past Hoquiam