It wasn’t a good weekend to be a defending state high school football champion.
In two days, three 2012 state winners went down. The latest was Montesano, which made a valiant effort as an underdog Saturday night playing top-ranked Cascade Christian.
But Cougars quarterback Jaelin Goldsmith made the plays in the clutch — with his feet. His 33-yard touchdown scamper with 25 seconds to go lifted the Cougars to a 28-21 win over Montesano in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Cascade Christian (10-0) will play at King’s in next week’s 1A quarterfinals in north Seattle.
It was a frantic final two minutes in which three touchdowns were scored — the first coming on Riley Ramos’ 16-yard run that gave the Cougars a 21-13 lead with 1:58 remaining.
Reigning champs don’t go down easy, and Montesano went 65 yards in 57 seconds on its next drive. The big play was Tristan Darst’s 46-yard catch-and-run along the left sideline that set up Noah Ewing’s 15-yard scoring strike to Kody Usher to cut the deficit to 21-19.
And when Ewing hit running back Anthony Louthan on the two-point conversion with 1:01 to go, the score was tied.
“My coaches were pretty confident (this week), and I said, ‘Man, I have the worst feeling I’ve had all year long coming into this week because I know (Bulldogs coach) Terry (Jensen) ... and I know they were going to be ready,’ ” Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. “The best lesson is the one you survive.”
Survive they did — barely.
The situation looked as if it would include overtime when the Cougars took the field at their 35-yard line with 51.6 seconds left. After a first-half injury sidelined kicker Andrei Dyson, a field goal was not really an option.
But Goldsmith ripped off a 24-yard run to start the series. He then completed a short pass to Mason Tobeck at the Bulldogs’ 33, and the Cougars were in business with 34.2 seconds to go.
Before the decisive play, one of Goldsmith’s blockers mentioned that the Montesano defense could be had on a cutback run — and that is what Goldsmith did as he started off running to the right.
“It happened earlier in the game, and I kind of went down,” Goldsmith said. “But (this time) I went out and cut back across the field and kind of split (two defensive backs) in two, and then just took it the rest of the way.”
Ewing’s final prayer was swatted down by Cascade Christian’s Josh Seaton, and the Cougars survived to capture their sixth consecutive victory over Montesano since 2008, with half of them coming in the state tournament.
Louthan had a pair of long touchdown runs for Montesano, but he missed two short field goals in the second half — a 28-yarder that hit the crossbar late in the third quarter and a 20-yarder that went left with 4:27 remaining.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Jensen said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t finalize them.”
What it did was finalize another fantastic finish to one of the best non-league, small-school rivalries in the state.
Goldsmith, who rushed for 87 yards, completed 11 of 16 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs (6-5) outgained Cascade Christian, 458-437.
“It has always been a great game, Cascade-Montesano,” Goldsmith said. “This was just another one for the books.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com