Even with less than half of last week’s scoring output, Taholah is still riding high in football.
An explosive rushing attack and solid play in the trenches lifted Taholah past Wishkah, 52-14, in a Coastal League game Saturday at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.
Coming off a 108-42 conquest of King’s Way Christian last week, the Chitwhins won their fifth straight and avenged an early season non-league loss to the Loggers.
Taholah (4-0 in league, 5-3 overall) relied heavily on its rushing attack. The Chitwhins ran for 319 yards. Junior running back Wade Purdy led the way, carrying 14 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
“We have a good, strong line” said Taholah head coach Donald Waugh. “We believe in our front line, so we ran a lot of power I (formation). We have a good fullback, and two good running backs, but we rely a lot on our line.”
The Chitwhins overcame five turnovers and 115 yards in penalties.
Wishkah (3-1, 6-2) opened the second quarter with an impressive eight-play, 91-yard drive. After rushing four times for 43 yards on the drive, junior quarterback Keigan Gardiner capped it off by running in for the score from 2 yards out. Gardiner followed that up by rushing for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 14.
Moments later, Purdy received a handoff to the left side from Keanu Curleybear. Realizing that he had nowhere to go, Purdy reversed directions in the backfield, dashed to the right, and gained 37 yards to Wishkah’s 22-yard line.
On the very next play, Justin Curleybear carried off the right tackle, and scampered in for the first of his three rushing touchdowns. Jon Jackson ran the two point conversion in, putting the Chitwhins up 22-14.
After forcing Wishkah to turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, Taholah utilized its passing attack to get back into scoring position.
Sophomore quarterback Keanu Curleybear completed a pass to Otto Tanner for an 11-yard gain. On the next play, Curleybear rolled out to the right, but threw back across the field to a wide-open Cleve Jackson, who caught the past and ran it to the 1-yard line. Jon Jackson pounded it in for a touchdown on the next play, padding Taholah’s lead, 28-14.
The Chitwhins closed out the first half with Justin Curleybear’s 4-yard touchdown run. That capped a three-play, 17-yard drive after Wishkah’s fake punt attempt backfired.
Gardiner accounted for all 16 of Wishkah’s points. In addition to his second-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion, he ran for a score from nine yards out to tie the game at six in the first quarter.
When these teams met earlier this season, it was a game full of yelling, scuffling, and personal fouls. Although there were six personal fouls this time around, and at least one member of the chain gang was removed from his position on the sideline, this growing rivalry game seemed to be played much cleaner on the field.
“I believe everything went good” said Wishkah head coach Brad Taylor. “There were hard hits, and it was a good, tough game. But it was a pretty clean game overall, much better than the last one.”
Justin Curleybear opened the scoring in the game, breaking off a 47-yard touchdown run on the Chitwhins’ second play from scrimmage. Curleybear carried 10 times for 109 yards.
The game’s lone passing touchdown occurred in the first quarter when Keanu Curleybear found a wide open Cleve Jackson in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
Waugh emphasized the importance of this match-up for Taholah.
“We watched a lot of film,” said the Taholah coach. “We’ve been keying on Wishkah for a long time. We knew going into this season that they were our biggest hurdle.”
The win left the Chitwhins tied with Mary M. Knight for the league lead, with the next two weeks determining playoff berths. Wishkah will host the Owls on Friday at Stewart Field. Following a bye next wee, the Chitwhins travel to Matlock to take on Knight on Nov. 3.
Wish 6 8 0 0 — 14
Tah 14 22 8 8 — 52
First Downs 15 10
Net Rushing 319 156
Net Passing 94 38
Total Net Yardage 413 194
Passing 5-7 4-17
Had Intercepted 1 2
Fumbles Lost 4 0
Yards Penalized 115 43