PROSSER — With a first and 10 and Prosser’s 11-yard line, trailing 34-29 with four minutes to play, W.F. West had the Mustangs on the ropes.
But the Bearcats were unable to punch it in on four-straight attempts, culminating in a sack that gave the Mustangs the ball back, who then gained a first down and ran down the clock to hand W.F. West a defeat in the opening round of the 2A state playoffs Saturday in Prosser.
It was W.F. West’s first state appearance in four years, and the Bearcats were coming off a 21-7 win over Mark Morris in the district crossovers last Friday to advance to the state tourney.
That set up a first-round state matchup between the No. 10 Bearcats and No. 7 Prosser. W.F. West has been without junior quarterback Gavin Fugate, who suffered an injury during the season finale against Black Hills. That thrust freshman wideout Gage Brumfield behind center the past two games.
On Saturday, it was a back-and-forth battle between the Mustangs’ high-powered passing attack and the Bearcats, who were also forced to go to the air with Prosser’s huge defensive line limiting W.F. West’s run game.
The two teams traded scores until Mustangs’ freshman halfback Erik Delgado ran in back-to-back touchdowns in the second quarter to put Prosser up 28-14 at the half.
By then Prosser QB Kaiden Rivera had been torching the Bearcats’ defense, going 15 of 21 for 251 yard and two scores. But Brumfield had also found success through the air for W.F. West, completing 9 of 12 passes for 94 yards and two scores — to Logan Moore and Evan Stajduhar.
The second half was a penalty fest with touchdowns called back for both sides and a slew of holding, pass interference and offsides penalties.
Brock Guyette opened the second-half scoring with a 1-yard TD plunge, then ran in the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 28-22. But Prosser responded with another passing score to go up 34-22.
Brumfield then hit Moore for a 28-yard touchdown strike to again cut the deficit to 34-29 with eight minutes to play. On Prosser’s next drive, a Mustangs’ penalty called back a 50-yard touchdown pass that would have sealed the victory, but instead forced a punt.
W.F. West got the ball back with just over five minutes to play and marched downfield with a big reception from Brumfield to Moore, followed by Brumfield’s QB keeper down to Prosser’s 11-yard line.
But the Bearcats’ couldn’t complete the comeback and came up short on four-straight shots at the end zone, ending with a 34-29 defeat.
W.F. West coach Dan Hill said he’s proud of the way his team battled, going from having 17 new starters in the season opener to just being yards away from winning a state playoff game after a four-hour drive.
“This team is incredible,” Hill said. “Their effort was awesome. Most impressed with our ability to keep grinding in the second half where we only allowed one touchdown. We moved the ball and made big plays. I’m really proud of our football team and how far we came this year.”
Hill said what he’ll remember most about this group of seniors is their resiliency, their personalities and their will to win ball games.
“Each one is a special kid and I love each one of them,” Hill said. “