The Deer Park football team can party likes its 1977.
The Stags finally ended 34 years of frustration (15 games) by defeating the Clarkston Bantams 27-25 on Friday.
The win finished the Stags’ Great Northern League season with a 4-1 mark (7-1 overall) and assures them a home playoff game on Nov. 8, 11 or 12. The Bantams fell to 2-3,
“The kids worked hard tonight,” said Stag head coach Keith Stamps, “nothing came easy.”
The Stags, who took a 13-6 lead midway through the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by Jason Jorgensen, kept the Bantams at bay the rest of the game, thanks to a fourth down stand just before halftime and their ability to convert third down situations the second half.
The defensive stand late in the second quarter followed an 11-play Clarkston drive that put the ball on the Deer Park 7-yard line with less than a minute before intermission. The 12th play, a fourth down swing pass from Austin Hansen to Colby Ruark died when defensive back Colby Mattausch wrapped up the Clarkston tailback at the 4-yard line, inches from another first down.
Mattausch, who was 35 pounds lighter than Ruark, said he knew he had stopped the Bantam running back, but watched keenly as the referees brought out the first down chain to confirm his gut feeling.
The Stags found a little breathing room in on their first possession of the second half. The six-play drive, all on the ground, ended with a 30-yard touchdown run by Jorgensen, who finished with a game-high 172 yards rushing on 22 carries.
The Bantams answered with an eight-play drive that culminated with a 9-yard run by Ruark. Clarkston, however, had the extra point blocked by Canyon Nielson.
That little part of the game ended up playing a big part in the outcome. The Stags missed one extra point, while the Bantams missed three (two kicks and a quarterback sack) that eventually spelled the difference in the final score.
Deer Park took a 27-12 lead on a Colton Mead quarterback sneak with 9:57 to play. But once again, the Bantams rallied with a 35-yard touchdown catch by Zach Dwyer and a 3-yard run by Ruark with 2:35 left in the game.
The Bantams had one final chance only to see Mead connect with Dalton Hanson for 19 yards on a third-and-16 play with 1:30 remaining.
Stamps said he talked about the play — which sent Hanson and Zach Mohr down the middle of the field with Mead having his choice between the two — at halftime.
Hanson’s catch was the Stags’ fourth third down conversion (out of five tries) in the second half.
“The kids handled their composure well in the fourth quarter,” Stamps said.
Deer Park will travel to Riverside (5-3) at 7 p.m. on Friday before finishing their regular season at Medical Lake on Nov. 4.