LAPWAI — With a steady, pouring rain and temperatures in the 30s, the field at Lapwai High School resembled a frosty, muddy slip-and-slide by the time the clock hit zeroes in a Whitepine League Division I football battle between the Wildcats and Potlatch Loggers.
But Lapwai, seemingly unfazed by the grueling conditions, got stronger as the game went on. The Wildcats pulled away in the second half to dispatch the Loggers 40-22, clinging to hopes of earning a berth in the Class 1A Division I playoffs.
Junior quarterback Titus Yearout rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the first half and passed for a pair of scores in the second half, and Lapwai poured on 24 points after halftime to put the game away.
“Ugly muddy football game, but the kids did enough to win,” Lapwai coach Josh Leighton said.
By the end of the game, Potlatch’s green and white jerseys were mostly brown, and Lapwai’s Columbia blues looked more of a dirty gray shade. The teams combined for six fumbles in the sloppy conditions.
In the first half, Potlatch (1-6, 1-4) struck first on a 10-yard run by quarterback Tyson Tucker. But it took only three plays for the Wildcats (2-3, 2-3) to strike back on a 53-yard scramble by Yearout.
Both teams scored again in the second quarter and Lapwai went into the locker room with a 16-14 advantage.
But the third quarter was all Wildcats.
Yearout found Terrell Ellenwood-Jones wide open for a 41-yard score — the first of two scores in the quarter for the sophomore receiver — and Mason Brown returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.
Leighton said the turnovers and Yearout’s passing ability were key in the second half.
“A couple turnovers turned into points for us,” Leighton said. “To be able to throw the ball a little bit on a sloppy field is something we were able to do, and I thought that made a difference in the game.”
Potlatch received a boost from workhorse running back Tyler Howard, who rumbled for 103 yards and two touchdowns, including a 14-yarder in the fourth quarter to help the Loggers avoid a second-half shutout. Playing until the final whistle, the junior linebacker also snagged a big sack on Lapwai’s last drive of the game.
Yearout finished with 248 yards of total offense and 14.5 tackles to lead the Wildcats. Yearout twice found open receivers on fourth down to keep drives alive in the second half.
“He’s an athlete. He comes to play every night,” Leighton said of his captain. “He did a good job leading this team.”
Despite only garnering two wins on the season, it was announced after the game Lapwai earned a state berth based on RPI rankings.
“Basically this game put us in the playoffs,” Leighton said. “The fact that we’re still hanging around and able to play another week of football is pretty awesome for these guys. It was a crazy season we had with COVID, and this game, and Genesee lost (its final) two games, and all that’s going on in the world.
“So it’s pretty cool. The kids played well.”
Potlatch 8 6 0 8—22
Lapwai 8 8 18 6—40
Potlatch — Tyson Tucker 10 run (Izack McNeal pass), 5:30.
Lapwai — Titus Yearout 53 run (Kross Taylor pass), 4:00.
Lapwai — Yearout 1 run (Yearout run), 4:19.
Potlatch — Tyler Howard 15 pass from Tucker (run failed), 0:12.
Lapwai — Terrell Ellenwood-Jones 41 pass from Yearout (pass failed), 9:46.
Lapwai — Mason Brown 65 interception return (run failed), 5:52.
Lapwai — Ellenwood Jones 4 run (run failed), 4:00.
Lapwai — Brown 23 pass from Yearout (pass failed), 10:27.
Potlatch — Howard 14 run (Avery Palmer pass), 3:00.
RUSHING — Potlatch: Tyler Howard 25-103, Tyson Tucker 20-77, Avery Palmer 4-21, Izack McNeal 5-10. Lapwai: Titus Yearout 19-110, Terrell Ellenwood-Jones 7-30, Mason Brown 6-18.
PASSING — Potlatch: Tucker 2-6-1—26. Lapwai: Yearout 8-13-0—138.
RECEIVING — Potlatch: Dominic Brown 1-14, McNeal 1-13. Lapwai: Kross Taylor 4-53, Ellenwood-Jones 2-46, Mason Brown 2-39.
Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter @StephanSports.