The Deer Park Stags could not run and eventually could not hide from the East Valley Knights in Thursday’s Great Northern League regular season finale for both teams.
The Stags, who only had one run over more than 9 yards in the game (a 35-yard run by Dalton Hanson in the fourth quarter), could not catch the Knights 35-24.
The loss eliminated the Stags (3-3 in the GNL, 6-4 overall)) from state playoff consideration. East Valley (4-2, 7-3) was eliminated later in the evening after Colville upset league-leading Pullman.
“It’s difficult, especially for the seniors, when it doesn’t end well,” said Stamps, who hugged many of his players when they entered the locker room after the game.
Stamps later met with team and staff behind closed doors for almost 15 minutes.
Despite the lack of a running game (only 22 yards rushing in the first half), the Stags trailed only 21-17 at halftime.
The Knights, whose running game also came and went in spurts, stretched their lead to 28-17 the first time they got the ball in the second half. Their 55-yard, six-play drive was capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Watkins to J.T. Phelan.
Watkins, who connected with Ben Warzon on an 8-yard scoring toss in the fourth quarter, finished 8 for 17 passing for 117 yards.
EV tailback Isaac Jordan contributed a game high 119 yards rushing on 22 carries.
The Stags also had a passing weapon of their own in sophomore Nic Clough. The sophomore, making his fifth varsity sport, teamed up with Travis Pierce late in the third quarter to trim the East Valley lead to 28-24.
Clough finished 17 of 28 passing for a career high 271 yards.
Hanson, who was held to 45 yards rushing on 11 carries, was a bigger weapon in the passing game with seven receptions for 145 yards.
After Warzon’s touchdown gave the Knights an 11-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the game, the Stags had three chances to cut into the deficit but could get no closer to the end zone than the East Valley 44-yard line.
“The kids played tough,” Stamps said. “We gave up a couple of big plays in the first half that really hurt us.”
The first big play came on the game’s first play when receiver J.T Phelan, in a bit of trickery, faked a reverse and found Gage Burland with a 59-yard scoring strike on the first play of the game. Deer Park, however, responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by Logan Maxwell and a 7-yard interception return for another score by C.J. Rodriguez before the first quarter ended.
“We hung around and kept making plays,” Stamps said.
The Knights countered with two touchdowns of their own before halftime, including a 67-yard run by Cole Hofstee that gave East Valley a 21-14 with 3:20 left in the first half.
Deer Park’s Charlie Robbins hit a 24-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter, but the Stags could not get closer in the final two quarters.