Cascade Christian’s running back Tyquan Coleman found the end zone four times as the Class 1A No. 6-ranked Cougars used a blocked extra point to hold off No. 9 Meridian late to win at Sunset Chev Stadium on Saturday.
After Zach Bartolome powered through the Trojans defense for a 17-yard score that gave the Cougars a late seven-point lead in the fourth, Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett connected with Andrew Logan on a 35-yard crossing route for a score that put the Trojans within an extra point, 34-33, with two minutes to play.
In stepped Cascade Christian defensive lineman Nathan Suiter.
“I was out there for other kicks, so I read the call and made it past the guy at the end,” Suiter said.
With the game on the line, Suiter broke through Meridian’s protection and blocked Cascade Christian’s kick, preserving the victory for the Cougars.
“Boy, I tell you — you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that one,” said Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis, who never had a blocked extra point to win a game before Suiter’s effort.
“That was on us not having the guys ready for that play,” said Meridian coach Bob Ames. “We weren’t set up like we should have been, and guys made some mistakes tonight that ended up costing us.”
One of those players was Cascade Christian’s (3-0) third-string tailback Coleman, who took on a larger role in the offense after the Cougars lost starter Madden Tobeck (ankle) two weeks ago, and backup Evan Patrick (collarbone) last week.
“It was because of my offensive line, and the skill-position players blocking for me tonight,” Coleman said.
Coleman finished with 134 yards on 13 carriers with touchdown runs of 2, 44, 12 and 17 yards in the win.
“Zach Bartolome made a great block that let me get to the sideline, and I was able to outrun them for the score,” said Coleman of his 44-yard sprint to the end zone.
Cascade Christian had a forgettable start to the game, as the Cougars couldn’t fix the mental mistakes that led to an early Meridian lead.
After Meridian (1-2) forced a fourth-and-15 from the 15-yard line, the Cougars used a fake punt as Austin Carder found a first down after picking up 18 yards on the run, but a holding call killed the play and forced a replay of the down.
Meridian broke through Cascade Christian’s offensive line on the next play, blocking the punt attempt and recovering to set up a first-and-goal from the 1. Three plays later, Trojans quarterback Simon Burkett (8 for 17, 112 passing yards) used a sneak to score from the 1-yard line, 7-0.
Cascade Christian’s offense began clicking after giving up the score to Meridian, as freshman quarterback Parker Johnson completed his four passes, connecting with Austin Carder on a screen for 27 yards that set the Cougars up with a first down at the 2.
Tyquan Coleman scored on a quick run, but Meridian maintained the lead, 7-6, after the Cougars missed their extra point.
Cascade Christian forced a turnover on down on Meridian’s next series, and Coleman responded by rifling off a 44-yard score, his second touchdown in as many touches, pushes the Cougars lead to 12-7.
Cascade Christian moved into the red-zone for their third consecutive series after Carder drew a pass interference call on the Meridian defense, setting up the Cougars a first down on the 10.
Two plays later, Coleman kept his balance on a hit to tumble into the end zone for his third score of the half, this time a 12-yard run, to push the Cougars lead to 18-7.
Meridian found some rhythm to close out the half, as Tony Schleimer scored on a 2-yard run to cap off a seven-play, 60-yard drive by the Trojans to cut the lead to 18-14 after the extra point by Nick Sebastian.
After trading blows in the second half, Cascade Christian were able to outscore and then hang on to win.
“There were too many guys to highlight tonight, as so many players stepped up,” Davis said.
Cascade Christian opens up Nisqually League play when they take on Chimicum (1-1) next Friday at Memorial Stadium in Port Townsend. Meridian will host Lynden Christian (0-2) as the Trojans open their NWC league season.