A Royal bummer: Knights come from behind to beat Colville

In a game played alternately in rain and snow, Royal came from behind in the second half to post a wild 38-35 win over host Colville Saturday afternoon and advance to the quarterfinals of the State 1A football playoffs. Colville’s (5-5) unlikely run into the playoffs after an 0-4 start looked like it might continue after the Indians took an early 14-0 lead. But the Indians, who had won five straight coming in and a second straight Northeast A League championship, had no second half answers for quick-footed quarterback Alex Myrick and tailback Alex Ramirez (14 carries—110 yards), particularly in the second half. Myrick’s one-yard sneak with 3:22 left was enough to lift the Knights to the win and a quarterfinal date Friday or Saturday in Wenatchee against Chelan. The Knights (9-2), second out of the SCAC behind unbeaten Connell, had its hands full against Colville and its relentless running game. Quick 14-0 lead for Colville on Saturday Indeed, the Indians took a 14-0 first quarter lead on a reverse to tight end Alex Pond that covered 79 yards and a 32-yard sprint to the house by senior tailback Colton Davis. But the Indians never could get a handle—or enough stops—against Royal’s spread offense. The Knights scored 20-second quarter points and a cold, wet November playoff game was setting up for a wild finish. “That was very disappointing,” CHS head coach Randy Cornwell said of the battle between two very evenly matched high school football teams. “It was a winnable game. That was the kind of game we have been winning lately.” But a couple of costly fumbles and Colville’s inability to slow down Royal at all in the second half proved to be the difference-makers. Certainly, Colville played well enough to win in this one. Unofficially, workhorse running back Colton Davis, who put together one of the best single season rushing totals in CHS history, did his part. The deceptively fleet senior with the great on-field vision rushed for an unofficial 215 yards on 31 carries. If those numbers hold up, that’s about 50 yards short of John Roberts’ single season rushing record. Davis rushed for 1,688 yards this season. His season to remember includes a school record five games where he rushed for more than 200 yards. “Those are pretty impressive totals,” added Cornwell, who admitted to having no idea that Davis would amass those eye-popping numbers—or anything close, for that matter. “It’s even more impressive when you realize that everybody knows what we’re going to do (run the football).” Colville totaled around 350 yards on the ground. According to Royal statistics, the Knights’ Myrick rushed 16 times for 69 yards and was 8 of 15 through the air for 134 yards. The junior was picked off once. Ramirez rushed 14 times for 110 yards. RECAP Colville took the opening kickoff and got on the board quickly. After Davis gained five yards on first down, Pond, on a tight end reverse, got outside and down the Colville sideline for 79 yards and a touchdown. Magnus Johansen (31 of 32 PAT’s this season—the best mark since 2005) added the PAT and CHS led 7-0 at the 11:08 mark of the first quarter. After a Royal first down to their own 48-yard-line, the Tribe defense held and forced a punt. The partially shanked punt covered only 17-yards and Colville took over at its own 28. Colville scored seven plays later when Davis raced 32 yards for a touchdown. After Johansen’s PAT kick, Colville led 14-0. Indians backed up Colville’s defense forced another punt on Royal’s ensuing possession. The 59-yard Damian Delarosa punt rolled dead at the Colville one-yard-line. After a first down, Colville was forced to punt and Royal took over inside the Indians’ 30-yard-line. The Knights punched in their first touchdown of a wet, cold afternoon when the elusive, 5-7, 165-pound Myrick scored from 10-yards out on a keeper with 10:44 left in the second quarter. The PAT kick was no good and CHS led 15-6. Davis returned Royal’s ensuing kickoff 37 yards to the Knights’ 48 and the Indians were in business again. But senior Julio Valencia’s fumble was covered by Royal linebacker Justin Edwards and the visitors took over at their own 37-yard-line. Royal threatened, but a Josh Hamilton break-up of a Myrick third down pass near the end zone to receiver Brady Dixon forced a punt. After the last punt of the game for Royal, the Indians took over at its own 30-yard-line. Davis picked up five yards on first down before quarterback Scott Sheehan (3-4-0-43 yards) threw incomplete. Pond picked up four yards on third down and Colville elected to go for it on fourth and one. But sophomore running-back Zach Shoemaker was stuffed on the fourth down run and Royal took over on downs at the CHS 40. “That fourth and short was huge,” conceded Cornwell, who watched from the sidelines as Royal took advantage of great field position. Key play in the ensuing Royal drive was a Myrick to Dixon hook-up for 33 yards. But Colville’s defense stiffened, and with the help of a block in the back call on the Knights, the Indians were able to force a fourth and long inside the Colville 20. In another key play, a mediocre officiating crew gave Royal a more than generous spot on a fourth down run that kept the drive alive. Delarosa capped the eight-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown with 4:40 left in the second period. The two-point PAT attempt was no good and Colville led 14-12. Davis scores Colville and Davis answered. Davis ripped off 39 yards to the Royal 15-yard-line before the senior scored from 11-yards out. The Johansen PAT was good and Colville led 21-12 with only 1:12 left until halftime. But Royal answered with a quick touchdown of its own before halftime. Myrick went to work over the top, hitting Johnny Villenueva for 13 yards to the CHS 25 after Myrick had scrambled up the middle for 14 yards. Myrick picked up 10 more on a keeper before the junior signal-caller found Christian Geurrero on a 15-yard slant pattern for the score. A two-point PAT pass from Myrick to Daniel Vermeer cut the Colville lead to 21-20 with only 25 seconds left until halftime. The drive covered 62 yards and five plays. Royal, who really wasn’t slowed offensively in the second half, took its first lead of the game at the 10:09 mark of the third quarter when Guerrero hauled in a 24-yard pass from Myrick. The two-point PAT pass was incomplete and Royal led 26-21. Colville went nowhere on its ensuing series and Royal went to work again. Dixon hauled in an 18-yard reception over the middle from Myrick. But Myrick was intercepted by Carpenter at the 5:28 mark of the third quarter and Colville had dodged a bullet. The Indians, at midfield, dug deep into their play book with an old “Hook and Ladder” pass to Pond, who pitched to Davis. The pass and run play covered 30 yards and set the Indians up with a first down at the RHS 20. Then, on third and one, Valencia broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and scored from 11 yards out with 3:52 left in the third period. The PAT by Johansen was good and Colville led again, 28-26. But Royal, starting at their own 31-yard-line on the ensuing possession, came right back, mixing a heavy dose of Myrick’s legs and arm. Guerrero capped the 69-yard, nine-play drive with a three-yard scoring run at the 9:36 mark of the fourth quarter. The two-point PAT pass was incomplete and Royal led, 32-28. But Colville responded on its ensuing possession. Sheehan hooked up with tight end Omar Khater for 26 yards to the CHS 38. Davis picked up 14 more and on a sweep to the left side, raced down the sideline to the Royal one-yard-line. Davis scored from one yard out and Colville led 35-32 with only 6:55 left in the game. But in a game dominated by the offenses, Royal wasn’t through. Starting at its own 30-yard-line, Ramirez ripped off 26 yards to the Colville 44-yard-line and a first down. Guerrero added 19 more and Royal was in business at the CHS 25. Royal, running almost exclusively between the tackles, capped the drive on Myrick’s one-yard run with 3:22 left. The PAT pass was incomplete and the Knights led 38-35. Fumble kills final scoring drive Colville, starting at its 20-yard-line after the touchback, still had time—and all of its allotted timeouts. “I felt really good about that last drive,” Cornwell said. “We had time.” Colville got 11 yards from Davis on first down. But after a first down to the CHS 45-yard-line, the center snap was botched and Royal recovered with 1:37 left. Colville forced a fourth and 9, but Royal, like they had been doing for most of the second half, converted and ultimately killed the clock. Colville was out of time—and timeouts. Royal dominated offensive statistics in the second half. The Knights ran off 39 plays to Colville’s 19 (only seven in the third quarter). It was a bittersweet end to a season that Colville staff and players will remember for a long time. The rebuilding Indians weren’t supposed to be a factor in the NEA race this fall, but after losing three of those first four games to larger schools, some of that inexperience matured, the league’s best offensive line became dominant, and Davis started running wild. “This was a really tight group,” Cornwell said. “They liked each other and they hung in and worked hard…they went through a lot and were really bonded.” The Indians, who likely will have to move back up to Class 2A next fall after reclassification (and then head back down two years later), will return the right side of a very good offensive line next fall. Gone will be NEA Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Davis, and Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Alex Pond. The rangy, 6-5, 215-pound middle linebacker led the defense with 17 tackles in his last game for Colville. Cornwell was impressed with Royal. “That’s a quick, sturdy bunch,” Cornwell said. “Their quarterback (Myrick) is very good…he’s perfect for what they do (spread offense). “Royal has had a good football program for a long time. Ditto for Colville. Royal 0 20 6 12-- 38 CHS 14 7 7 7— 35 CHS—Pond 79 yd. run (Johansen kick) CHS—Davis 31 yd. run (Johansen kick) RHS—Myrick 10 yd. run (kick failed) RHS—Delarosa 11 yd. run (pass failed) CHS—Davis 11 yd. run (Johansen kick) RHS—Guerrero 15 yd. pass from Myrick (Vermeer pass from Myrick) RHS—Guerrero 24 yd. pass from Myrick (pass incomplete) CHS—Valencia 11 yd. run (Johansen kick) RHS—Guerrero 3 yd. run (pass failed) CHS—Davis 1 yd. run (Johansen kick) RHS—Myrick 1 yd. run (pass failed)