ELLENSBURG- The Ellensburg Bulldogs may have put on a firework show at halftime, the real show was on the field, as the Othello Huskies rode a wild finish to a victory.
The first quarter trudged by without either team scoring. Both defenses flexed their muscles as they held the opposing offense from moving the ball. Finally, about halfway through the second quarter, Othello’s Stevan Ochoa found the endzone for the first points of the game.
Ellensburg marched down the field before the end of the half, but a pair of defensive plays stopped them from scoring. Isaiah Perez made the first splash play, sacking Brady Helgeson for a loss of 10 yards, putting the Bulldogs out of field goal range. On the next play, it was Efrain Palomares with the big time deflection to prevent a touchdown.
The Huskies’ defensive efforts gave them the lead going into halftime, 7-0.
Othello attempted to catch the Bulldogs sleeping on the opening kickoff for the second half, with a squib kick. Ellensburg didn’t fall for the trickery, and recovered the fumble. The Bulldogs fought and scrapped their way down the field, including converting a fourth-and-inches situation.
But the Huskies’ pass rush remained fierce throughout the night. This time stopping Ellensburg with a big-time sack, was Bernabe Garza.
The Bulldogs defense refused to be outdone in their own house and forced Othello’s offense into several three-and-out situations. The Bulldogs found themselves knocking on the door of the endzone late in the third quarter but were stuffed by the Huskies defense on fourth down to keep the Bulldogs in the dog house.
In the fourth quarter, the fearless Bulldogs went for it on fourth down again, but defensive efforts in the secondary and by Palomares stopped Ellensburg from scoring.
The Huskies got their first first down of the half before disaster struck and the Bulldogs ripped the ball out of Issac Barrigan’s hands, forcing a fumble which they recovered.
The Bulldog’s Brenden Swanson cut and slashed his way through the Huskies’ defense before finally scoring Ellensburg’s first touchdown of the game. The game was all tied up, 7-7 with 2:21 left on the clock.
The Bulldog defense once again suffocated the Husky offense, forcing another three-and-out.
Garza punted the ball away with two minutes remaining, but the wind shanked the punt and caused Ellensburg’s Spencer Conoway to muff the punt. Othello’s Liddel Giles jumped on top of it and recovered the ball, giving the Huskies the ball inside of the redzone with less than two minutes left.
Three runs later, it was up to Garza to win the game with his leg. Garza’s drilled the ball between the uprights, giving Othello the 10-7 victory.
Now, Othello’s chances of going to the league championship are alive and well. If Ephrata and Ellensburg both win next week, then there will be a three-way tie and there will be a play-in to determine who gets to go to the league tournament. Whereas if the Huskies would have lost this game, their season would have been over.
The Huskies players knew going into this game that if they did their jobs and played their best that the dream of winning would become a reality.
“I was thinking about just block everything in my sight, don’t let anyone catch the ball, just do my job,” Palomares said.
“Ellensburg’s defense is really fast to the ball, once that ball is hiked they’re off with it,” Ochoa said. “They played a rough game but we pushed it harder.”
Othello is done with conference play, and will travel to Pullman next week to finish the regular season.