Chris Leiba intercepted a potential tying touchdown in the final minute to secure River Ridge’s 20-13 comeback victory over Black Hills on Thursday night at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.
River Ridge (4-1 overall) stretched its winning streak to four games with the victory in the 2A Evergreen Conference opener for both teams.
Black Hills (3-2, 0-1) reached the River Ridge 27-yard line in the final minute of the game before the 5-foot-7 Leiba made an interception in the end zone on a pass intended for 6-footer Shayne Robinson.
It was an exclamation mark on the River Ridge defense’s effort in the second half, when it held the Wolves to 103 yards of offense.
“Our defense has been keeping us in games all year,” Hawks coach Steve Schultz said. “Our defense has been doing a great job, and we relied on them at the end.”
Leiba had a 24-yard touchdown run to put River Ridge ahead midway through the third quarter.
The lead increased to seven when Wesley Coats caught a 37-yard touchdown pass with 10:21 remaining in the game.
Coats’ TD catch came on a gutsy play call by Schultz after he called a timeout with his team facing a third-and-15 play from the 37. In River Ridge’s 28-14 non-league win over Hockinson last week, Coats had 126 yards on seven catches.
“We had to get it to our athlete (Coats),” Schultz said. “I knew that if we emptied out (the backfield), they had to cover up, and that would reduce the pressure. We had to get it to him somehow.”
Black Hills led 13-7 at halftime, thanks to touchdown runs of 37 and 10 yards by Conrad Nygren. He finished with 81 yards on nine carries.
River Ridge totaled just 106 yards of offense in the first half, with 69 yards coming on one play – Brad Wallace’s 69-yard first-quarter touchdown that tied the game 7-7.
Wallace finished with a game-high 157 yards on 18 carries.
Graham-Kapowsin 38, at Rogers 17: Teague James rushed for 150 yards and scored four touchdowns as the Eagles improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the SPSL South. Rogers fell to 3-2 overall and in the league.
At Auburn 28, Kentlake 24: Harold Lee scored three touchdowns to lead the Trojans to victory. Auburn improved to 4-1 overall and in the SPSL North. Kentlake fell to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.Staff writer Meg Wochnick contributed to this report.