KENDRICK — When Kendrick needed it most, freshman quarterback Ty Koepp floated a pass to Jagger Hewett streaking across the back of the end zone on a crossing route for a 5-yard touchdown.
The fourth-down score halted surging Clearwater Valley’s momentum late in Friday’s nonleague game. Two drives later, with the Rams with the ball, Maison Anderson’s big sack on third-and-long all but sealed a 36-24 win for the Tigers.
“That was big — look at the final scoreboard, that was huge,” Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said of his team’s final scoring drive. “Fourth-and-5 from the 5, so we called (a time out), drew up our best play and it came out good.”
Koepp finished 12-of-17 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns for Kendrick (2-1). The poised youngster also rushed for a team-high 49 yards and another score.
But the Rams (1-2) didn’t make it easy in the second half.
With Kendrick leading 30-0 early in the third, Clearwater Valley recovered three straight onside kicks that led to 18 consecutive points. The Rams recovered a total of four onside kicks in the second half and scored 24 of the game’s final 30 points
“We’re a young team, we’re going to keep working hard,” Clearwater Valley coach Allen Hutchens said. “I’m proud of these guys. They fought hard.”
The Rams’ improbable comeback attempt came largely thanks to the leg, and legs, of kicker/running back Jesse Knox. The senior’s perfectly punched kickoffs almost always gave his team a shot at jumping on the onside kick, and the Tigers struggled to grab the ball in wet, slippery conditions.
“The field’s wet, the ball’s wet, we got some good bounces, but hey, this is a young team, we’re going to keep battling hard,” Hutchens said.
Knox also piled up a team-high 59 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a night when the Tigers held the Rams to only 78 yards on the ground.
Clearwater Valley also found some success with some long passes in the second half, including a 73-yarder from quarterback Anthony Fabbi to Connor Jackson for the final score of the game.
But Kendrick’s big first half proved too much to overcome.
Four different Tigers scored Kendrick’s first four touchdowns, and defensive back Hewett tackled Knox for a safety in the second quarter en route the 30-point lead.
In that stretch, Kendrick’s Rylan Hogan and Anderson piled up tackles, many for loss, and helped keep the Rams’ offense off the field.
Kendrick led 16-0 with about a minute left to play when the officials called an early halftime and 30-minute break because of lightning. The teams finished the second quarter and went straight into the third after the extended break.
“That first half we played pretty clean — the offense played pretty clean and we held them scoreless in the first half,” Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said. “We didn’t play well in the second half … Great first half, not a great second half.”
Clearwater Valley 0 0 6 18 — 24
Kendrick 6 16 8 6—36
Kendrick — Matt Fletcher 9 run (pass failed), 7:06.
Kendrick — Wyatt Fitzmorris 12 pass from Ty Koepp (Koepp run), 11:53.
Kendrick — Jagger Hewett safety, 6:05.
Kendrick — Talon Alexander 15 from Koepp (pass failed), 0:55.
Kendrick — Koepp 3 run (Alexander pass), 5:28.
Clearwater Valley — Jesse Knox 8 run (pass failed), 2:02.
Clearwater Valley — Knox 4 run (run failed), 9:47.
Clearwater Valley — Knox 47 run (pass failed), 9:31.
Kendrick — Jagger Hewett 5 pass from Koepp (run failed), 2:11.
Clearwater Valley — Connor Jackson 73 pass from Anthony Fabbi (run failed), 1:39
RUSHING — Clearwater Valley: Knox 11-59, Aiden Martinez 10-14, Anthony Carter 5-16, Jackson 1-(-1), team 1-(-2), Fabbi 12-(-8). Kendrick: Koepp 12-49, Fletcher 8-37, Fitzmorris 10-27, team 1-0.
PASSING — Clearwater Valley: Fabbi 6-13-1—164, Martinez 0-1-0—0. Kendrick: Koepp 12-17-0—213.
RECEIVING — Clearwater Valley: Ridge Shown 2-76, Jackson 1-73, Martinez 1-14, Knox 2-1. Kendrick: Alexander 5-105, Hewett 3-61, Fletcher 3-45, Fitzmorris 1-12.
Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter @StephanSports.