The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

Broncos lose heartbreaker on Senior Night


Last updated 11/7/2019 at 12:59pm

Journal photos by Brandon Cline

Defensive lineman Doug Morris celebrates after tackling an Asotin running back in the backfield during the Broncos' 14-13 loss to the Panthers on Nov. 2. Morris led LRS defensively in the game, finishing with 4.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

With just about two minutes left in last Friday's Senior Night game, the Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos held a 13-7 lead over the visiting Asotin Panthers, thanks to a stifling defense that prevented big plays and forced four turnovers in the game.

And then, with just 1:50 left to play, Asotin scored on a 48-yard touchdown to take a 14-13 lead. It would be the game's final score.

The loss can only be described as heartbreaking for the Broncos (0-4 in league play and 2-7 overall), which had its best defensive performance of the season against a Panther team (3-1 in league play and 6-2 on the season) that entered the matchup averaging 27.3 points per game on the season. LRS held Asotin to 252 total yards of offense, recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes-including a pick-six by junior defensive lineman Doug Morris on the third play of the game that provided an unmistakable jolt of energy throughout the Bronco sideline.

"It was nice to have a big play like that, caused by pressure in the backfield to force the bad pass," said LRS head coach Greg Whitmore. "To get seven points early, it just changed the whole complexion of the game. It deflates them and inflates us and that was the springboard for the rest of the game."

Asotin would answer with a touchdown on its next drive, scoring on a 40-yard run to tie the game up at 7-7. But that would be the only time the Panthers would find the end zone until the game's final minutes.

The game went into the half tied 7-7, with neither team getting much going offensively. That changed in the opening moments of the third quarter, when junior quarterback Drew Kelly connected with senior running back Spencer Gering on a 63-yard touchdown pass to give LRS a 13-7 lead. The ball was just out of the reach of an Asotin defender near midfield and hauled in by Gering, who ran the rest of the way for the score.

The score would remain 13-7 until the closing minutes of the game, when the Asotin offense finally broke through the LRS defense. On 4th & 3 with the ball near midfield, Asotin completed a pass for a first down, which would then be taken 48 yards for a touchdown after the Panthers receiver evaded several defenders after the initial reception.

The Broncos almost gave the ball back to Asotin on the following kickoff, but managed to fall on the ball at their own six yard line. Four consecutive pass attempts fell incomplete on a night where temperatures were in the 30s, Asotin regained possession and kneeled twice in victory formation to deny five LRS seniors a win on Senior Night.

Kelly finished the game 14-26 for 154 passing yards and one touchdown, with the touchdown and 140 of his receiving yards going to Gering. Gering finished the game with 10 catches, for the most catches and receiving yards by an LRS receiver in a game this season. On the ground, senior Austin Thompson led the Broncos with 57 rushing yards on 15 attempts.

On defense, the Broncos were led by Morris, who finished the game with 4.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and the interception that was returned for a touchdown. Gering had the team's other interception. Freshman punter Cooper Miller had arguably his best game of the season, punting four times for an average of 37.5 yards, often reversing field position and forcing the Asotin offense to start drives deep on their own side of the field.

"This was a heck of a game," said Whitmore. "I was proud as punch of our kids on Senior Night, their last home game, they played their rear-ends off and played hard enough to deserve to win the game."

While the Broncos finished the regular season 0-4 in league play, they will be suiting up for playoff crossover football this week against the Colfax Bulldogs in Colfax. Except the Bulldogs are in LRS' own division.

LRS football and LRS cheerleaders were honored with their parents and guardians prior to the Nov. 2 game between the Broncos and the Asotin Panthers. From left, the students: Grace Greenwalt, Abbigail Morgan, Taylor Stromberger, Tamera Wolf, Cole Cameron, Garrett Frederick, Spencer Miller, Spencer Gering and Austin Thompson.

As Whitmore explains, prior to the beginning of the season the nine coaches in the Northeast 2B Conference-with five teams in the South Division and four teams in the North Division-decided that they would evaluate at the end of the season and decide whether the No. 4 team in the North Division or the No. 5 team in the South Division was the better team. Whichever team that the coaches decided was the better team would be awarded the North Division's No. 4 seed in the crossover round of the playoffs.

Whitmore announced in an email last Wednesday that the conference's coaches decided that the Broncos were a better team than the No. 4 team in the North Division-the Kettle Falls Bulldogs. With LRS being awarded as the No. 4 seed in the North, they are now facing off against the No. 1 seed in the South in the playoffs, which is Colfax.

LRS and Colfax, obviously, have already played this season. The game was played in Ritzville, with the Bulldogs beating the Broncos 39-13 after taking a 33-0 lead into the half.

Kickoff for tomorrow's game in Colfax is scheduled for 6 p.m., rather than the usual 7 p.m. kickoff time.


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