Early missed opportunities and miscues put Charles Wright in a hole against Montesano early, proving to be the undoing in a 31-21 loss to the Bulldogs in the opening round of the state playoffs on Nov. 9 at Harry Lang Stadium.
Raheem Hughey and Collin Reynolds helped the Tarriers march inside the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line in nine plays on the game’s opening drive, but an incompletion on fourth down turned the ball over to Montesano. The Bulldogs then launched a nine-play drive of their own, capping it with a three-yard touchdown run by Tucker Ibabao to make it 7-0. The Tarriers once again drove into Montesano territory on the next drive, but Fritz Jacobson came up just short on a quarterback sneak to turn it over on downs again.
“We thought we were in some favorable situations,” said Charles Wright head coach Mike Finch. “Those are the downs we feel like we can really prevail. Hats off to their defense, they did step up and stopped us on three or four big fourth-down tries tonight.”
Montesano added a field goal on their next possession, and after a fumbled kickoff Ibabao was in the end zone again on a nine-yard run to make it 17-0 early in the second quarter. The Tarriers seemed to grab the momentum just before halftime, as Reynolds ripped off a 35-yard run and Jacobson scampered 14 more yards on a nine-play, 61-yard drive that was capped by Hughey’s one-yard touchdown with 57 seconds left. But the quick-working Bulldog offense responded, marching 62 yards in less than 40 seconds, as Ibabao again found the end zone from 17 yards out to make it 23-7 at the half. Another four-play drive to start the second half – covering 49 yards and capped by another 17-yard score from Ibabao – gave Montesano a commanding 31-7 lead early in the second half. Ibabao finished with 16 carries for 101 yards and the four scores.
But the Tarriers began to chip away, as Jacobson capped a 12-play drive with a 19-yard strike to Collin Hungate to cut it to 31-13 late in the third quarter.
“Our offensive line really stepped up and performed like we have all season,” said senior lineman/linebacker Drew Vipond. “We never for a minute thought we were going to lose the game.”
Hughey added his second touchdown from two yards out in the fourth to cut it to 31-21, and the Tarriers quickly got the ball back on a turnover on downs. But after driving to the Bulldogs’ 43-yard line, they were unable to convert on fourth down, and Montesano was able to run out the clock. Reynolds led the Tarriers with 17 carries for 88 yards, while Hughey added 13 carries for 53 yards and the two scores. Charles Wright finished the season 8-1, having won its first league title since 1989.
“This one loss does not reflect on them at all,” Finch said. “It’s an 8-1 season, they’re Nisqually League champions and they will be remembered that way.”
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