CASHMERE - The Cashmere Bulldogs returned to home territory on Friday night to finish out their non-conference schedule in a clash against the Cheney Blackhawks.
And after the bugle call had sounded the opening stanza, it didn’t take long before a blitzkrieg of Bulldog bombs started dropping from the skies over Tigner Road.
After sophomore quarterback Sam Phillips launched a pair of touchdown passes to sophomore wide-out Mason Landdeck, covering 59 and 60 yards respectively, Cashmere found themselves on top by a 14-0 count after twelve minutes of play.
The Bulldogs may have won the battle through the air in the first quarter, but Cheney’s ground assault struck back in the second quarter, scoring on two short touchdown runs by senior fullback Mekhai Goodloe to draw back within two at 14-12 after a pair of missed point after attempts.
As the contest tightened on the scoreboard, so too did its level of intensity, and following a Cashmere fumble with only seconds remaining in the first half, the Blackhawks seized the opportunity to do some aerial damage of their own to the Bulldogs.
Junior quarterback Alex Long’s 70-yard missile to senior receiver Camden Verstrate as time expired on the first half gave Cheney its first lead of the game at 19-14 going into halftime.
As the troops on both sides of the ball marched back onto the battlefield for second half action the elements began to precipitate a few projectiles as well, but it was Cashmere’s locker room strategy for retaliation that drew first blood in the end zone.
With 5:44 left in the third quarter, the Phillips-to-Landdeck long distance connection answered the bell once again for the Bulldogs, who reclaimed the advantage at 20-19 and carried that narrow margin into the final frame.
As the minutes of conflict ticked down to their home stretch and the columns of the frustrated and the wounded began to pile up on the moonlit gridiron, the Bulldogs also continued to stack up points on the scoreboard by unleashing another weapon from their arsenal and taking aim at the goalposts.
Junior Javi Reyna’s field goals from 21 and 38 yards out staked Cashmere to a 26-19 lead with only 6:53 to go in regulation.
However, any thoughts the Bulldogs had that those bazooka shots might allowed them to hoist their flag in victory quickly became premature, as the Blackhawks mounted a successful infantry charge on their very next possession, capped off by Mekhai Goodloe’s third rushing touchdown on the night.
But, another misfire on special teams prevented Cheney from evening things up and Cashmere was left clinging to a one-point lead with less than five minutes to play.
Head coach Bryan Bremer’s call for the Bulldog cavalry to again step up after the Blackhawks’ touchdown fizzled out this time around.
Unfortunately for Bremer, his orders to hold the Cashmere fort on defense could also not be carried out, as Cheney drove 90 yards in nine plays on a near-flawlessly executed two-minute drill of pitch-and-catch with no timeouts, finished off by senior tight end Luke Martin’s 22-yard touchdown reception with only 33 seconds remaining, winning the war of this Friday night for the Blackhawks 31-26.
Cheney, who brought a large number of fanfare on their 170-mile trip to Cashmere, went home with an unblemished record of 4-0 on the season, while the hard-fought loss for the Bulldogs dropped them to an even 2-2 prior to opening league play next Friday in Omak against the 3-0 Pioneers.