MOSCOW After preserving an 18-15 victory over Grangeville when TJ Wiltse’s 40-yard crack at a last-second kick to tie deflected off a teammate, the host Bears threw a very public party for themselves last Friday night, Aug. 26.
That didn’t sit well with the Bulldogs, who could have upended the bigger school with a couple of breaks.
“We were all disappointed in the final score,” GHS head coach Jeff Lindsley said.
The Bulldogs took the game down to the last second with by far the thinnest playbook Grangeville fans have seen in recent years.
“Last year, we went up there with 15 plays...this year, we went with four or five, and we don’t have any of our passing game, yet,” Lindsley said, noting that the Bulldogs executed the small number of looks with greater effectiveness than GHS had during a 40-21 loss to the Bears during Zero Week 2015.
Early in the game – long before the nature of the end game became clear – the Bulldogs elected not to try a much shorter field goal. GHS also missed a defensive opportunity when a Moscow fumble turned into the winning points during the third quarter.
The Bulldogs started strong.
Having stuffed Moscow three-and-out on the first series of the 2016 football season, Grangeville seized a 7-0 lead with a 16-yard touchdown run by Luke Stokes punctuated by Wiltse’s extra point. Grangeville’s defense forced and recovered a Moscow fumble with 5:05 left in the first quarter, and the Bulldogs snapped off a series of runs – including a 26-yard burst by Stokes – to reach fourth-and-goal at the four.
Instead of lining up to kick, GHS tried to run it in. Moscow kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone and took over on downs, then marched 95 yards to score. The Bears’ extra point try imploded in the backfield, leaving Grangeville leading 7-6 with 10:40 left in the second quarter.
Moscow reclaimed possession after a Grangeville fumble, and after the teams traded possessions, Moscow punched in a score with 1:03 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs executed their up-tempo offense effectively, and regained the lead on a six-yard run by Booker Bush with five seconds left. The point-after sailed wide, but GHS led 13-12 at halftime.
Moscow scored the game-winner on a broken play. After a mix-up over signals in the secondary, the Bears capitalized on a red zone opportunity. When the GHS defense lost its concentration for a split-second, Moscow’s runner barreled up the middle and fumbled; what could have been a turnover turned into the go-ahead touchdown when a Bear grabbed it and plowed into the end zone.
Moscow, trying to increase the lead to seven, went for two and failed.
The end game scenarios became clear two minutes into the fourth quarter, when Grangeville forced Moscow to punt from inside their own five. The snap went through the end zone for a safety, lifting Grangeville within 18-15.
Late in the game, Grangeville ran another two-minute drill effectively, as the Bulldogs bashed their way to the Moscow 23.
The Bears’ rush didn’t break through, but after the helmet of a GHS lineman knocked down the kick, the Bears returned it partway up the home sideline and celebrated their opening week non-league win over the defending 2A champions right there on the field.
Stokes carried 14 times for 132 rushing yards. Jon Chamorro (17 for 86), Bush (13 for 57) and Noah Kaschmitter (7 for 37) also produced as the primary carriers in a 300-plus rushing yards team effort.
Defensively, Stokes totaled 10 tackles including a sack, with Justin Fogleman (7), Kaschmitter (6), Parker Walters (6), Frankie Zumwalt (6) and Bush (6) each in on many plays. Kaschmitter recorded one sack and might have had more if not for extra efforts Moscow made in trying to block him.
Lindsley highlighted Bush’s first game as a Bulldogs quarterback, praising the sophomore and pointing out that “your quarterback doesn’t normally have to play defense, too.”
Coming – Grangeville (0-1) will host two Thursday night games this September.
Grangeville’s next game will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 against the Lewiston JV and GHS will take on the Clarkston varsity at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.