Okanogan certainly won’t spend extensive time analyzing the finer points of the Class 2B state football championship game Friday night.
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs don’t really need to — they won their second state title.
They jumped out to a big first-half lead, and held on for dear life in finally toppling No. 1 Napavine, 17-14, in the Tacoma Dome.
Okanogan’s previous state title came in 1999 when it shut out Kalama, 28-0, to win the 1A crown.
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This closer victory had its share of weird moments. Coach Erick Judd certainly acknowledged them after the game.
“Yes it was (a weird game). They pretty much stuffed us,” Judd said. “We scored two weird touchdowns, you know. It doesn’t matter how you scored them — they are on the (scoreboard).”
In the biggest game of the season, the best player on either side — Okanogan linebacker Jimmy Townsend — dominated the game with two forced fumbles, an interception, a sack and a game-high 10 tackles.
He also hauled in a double-tipped pass from Benny Cate on third-and-13 and went 61 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“(The football) just fell right in my arms,” Townsend said.
Okanogan (13-1) grabbed a 17-0 lead off another long pass play — albeit one with an odd finish. Jalen Moses caught a Cate pass on a slant pattern and broke away from the pack, only to be tripped up by teammate Mason Guerrette at the Tigers’ 7-yard line.
Moses fumbled the football, but Payton Staggs beat two Napavine players to the loose ball and recovered it in the end zone at the 6:34 mark of the second quarter.
After the score, Okanogan was held to 22 total yards on offense — and finished with 195 yards for the game.
It was plainly obvious the Tigers (12-1) — the 2008 state champions — were the better team, but they turned the ball over five times. PlacekKicker Jarod Hammond missed three short field goals of 31, 23 and 26 yards, and Napavine was flagged for an aiding-the-runner penalty inside the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line that led to one of those missed field goals in the first half.
“We just didn’t get the breaks,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “We made too many mistakes. You can’t make that many mistakes against a good team. They capitalized on them.”
Even with all of that, Napavine cut its deficit to 17-14 on Wyatt Stanley’s 27-yard touchdown strike to Mac Fagerness with 3:06 remaining.
Napavine got the ball back near midfield with 1:08 to go. But Stanley was sacked and stripped of the football, which Okanogan’s Joe Esquivel recovered.
“Napavine had a heck of a defense — the toughest one we faced so far,” Cate said. “But we found a way to get it done, and that is all that counts.”