The air over Snyder Field was filled with footballs last Friday night when the Chewelah Cougars hosted the Priest River Spartans. The two teams combined to throw the ball 64 times for 534 yards.
Chewelah’s Derek Smith completed 17 of 22 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 13 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Cougars to a 55-19 non-league victory over the formerly undefeated Spartans.
The win raised their season record to 3-1. The Cougars will return to their league schedule this Friday afternoon when they host the Kettle Falls Bulldogs in a 2:00 game. The kickoff time for this game was moved up because the bridge over the Columbia River will be closed that evening, so Bulldog fans who live on the west side of the river need to be able to return home prior to that time.
After a scoreless first quarter, Chewelah pretty much dominated the remainder of the game. The Cougars gained 528 total yards, scored eight touchdowns, and put 55 points on the scoreboard.
Priest River also had a good night with 344 net yards, but another stingy performance by the Chewelah defense only allowed the Spartans to get across the goal line three times.
Derek Smith finally got Chewelah into its rhythm late in the opening quarter with a 23-yard run. The Cougars then overcame a holding penalty as Smith completed passes to Mackinzie and Mason Miller for a combined 47 yards. A couple of off-tackle runs and an 11-yard catch by Cordell Bean had Chewelah inside the Priest River 10-yard line at the end of the quarter.
Chewelah scored on its third play of the second quarter. Smith ran the ball into the endzone from one yard out for a 6-0 Cougar lead with 10:42 left to play in the second quarter.
Chewelah scored on its next two possessions. A 25-yard pass from Smith to Dustin Crowell gave the Cougars a first down on the Spartan 33-yard line. Smith then connected with Bean on a 33-yard screen pass for Chewelah’s second touchdown of the quarter. Ty Curtis’s extra-point kick gave the Cougars a 13-0 lead with 9:19 remaining in the first half.
That was enough time for Chewelah to put one more touchdown on the scoreboard. A 19-yard run by Smith took the ball into Priest River territory. From there, Smith threw a 34-yard pass to Crowell and then threw to Mackinzie Miller for the third Cougar touchdown of the quarter. Unable to get off the extra-point kick, Curtis threw to Caleb Wiebe for the two-point conversion and a 21-0 Cougar lead with 3:20 left to play in the second quarter.
Priest River got on the scoreboard for the first time as the first half came to a close. After an 11-yard sack by Josh Hanley, the Spartan quarterback took off on a 53-yard run for a first down on Chewelah’s two-yard line. Three plays later, they scored on a short run into the endzone. Their extra-point kick with no time left in the second quarter narrowed the score to 21-7 at the intermission.
Every possession of the third quarter ended up in the endzone. Chewelah scored twice and so did Priest River.
Chewelah received the second half kickoff and immediately marched 61 yards for a touchdown. Two catches by Crowell gained 46 of those yards. Smith took the ball across the goal line and Curtis added the extra-point kick for a 28-7 Cougar lead with 9:40 to play in the third quarter.
Three good defensive plays by Chewelah could not stop Priest River from scoring on its first possession of the second half. Trey Barnett and Stephen Zerr teamed up to sack the Spartan quarterback for a five-yard loss. On the next play, Barnett then batted down a Priest River pass. Two plays later, Tommy Norman stuffed a pass for a seven-yard loss.
Nevertheless, Priest River persisted. The Spartans completed five passes and used two pass interference penalties flagged against Chewelah to keep their drive alive. They scored with 4:44 remaining in the third period, narrowing the Cougar lead to 28-13.
A 37-yard kickoff return by Mackinzie Miller gave Chewelah good field position at the Priest River 48-yard line to begin its next scoring drive. Four complete passes by Smith, three to Bean and one to Crowell, leap-frogged the ball down the field in a hurry. Smith then scored on a quarterback draw play from nine yards out for a 34-13 Cougar lead.
A 64-yard pass completion for a touchdown by Priest River brought the third period to an end. The pass closed the Cougar led to 34-19.
Here is where the trading of touchdowns came to an abrupt halt. Three more touchdowns were scored in the fourth quarter, but they were all scored by Chewelah.
Mackinzie Miller’s 26-yard run set up the sixth Cougar touchdown of the game. Five plays later, Bean took the ball across the goal line, and Chewelah began to pull away with a 40-19 lead.
When Priest River turned the ball over on downs for the fourth time in the game with 7:52 left to play, Chewelah took advantage of another scoring opportunity. Smith threw a 28-yard pass to Wiebe for a Cougar touchdown. Smith added the extra-point run widen the lead to 48-19.
Smith also made some good plays for the Chewelah defense. His pass interception and return gave the Cougars their final scoring prospect. On their first play from the 26-yard line, Bean bulled his way across the goal line. With Curtis’s extra-point kick, the Chewelah lead expanded to 55-19, and that is the way the game ended.
A pass interception by Curtis and punt by Bean that rolled to the Priest River two-yard line kept the Spartans from scoring in the final six minutes of the game.
So, in the end, Chewelah won the battle for air superiority over Snyder Field. Smith completed 17 of 22 passes for 309 yards and three Cougar touchdowns.
Smith completed passes to five receivers. Bean had eight catches for 117 yards. Crowell had four grabs for 111 yards. Mackinzie Miller caught three passes for 22 yards. Mason Miller had one catch for 31 yards. Wiebe’s catch covered 28 yards.
Priest River threw the ball 43 times, but completed less than half of them, for 225 yards. Chewelah held the Spartans to 119 yards on the ground. They ended the game with a total of 344 yards, but with only three touchdowns.
Smith also led Chewelah ball carriers with 13 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns. Bean had nine carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
With Ben Johnstone on the sideline with a knee injury that will keep him off the field for at least another three weeks, Dustin Crowell topped the Cougar defensive effort with eight tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Barnett had six. Smith, Curtis, Owens, and Wiebe each had five.
Remember that this coming Friday’s league game here at home against Kettle Falls will be played in the afternoon. Kickoff time is set for 2:00. High school students will be released from class early to attend the game with a signed note from a parent.
Northeast A League
Medical Lake 2 – 0
Freeman 1 – 0
Chewelah 1 – 0
Lakeside 1 – 1
Riverside 1 – 1
Newport 0 – 2
Kettle Falls 0 – 2
Last week’s games
Chewelah 55, Priest River 19
Freeman 42, Newport 7
Medical Lake 42, Riverside 6
Lakeside 42, Kettle Falls 13
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff