The Montesano Bulldogs were one quarter away from advancing in the 1A State Football Tournament, but it was the Riverside Rams that put points on the board in the fourth quarter as Monte’s season came to an end with a loss on Friday in Chattaroy.
The Bulldogs held a 20-17 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Rams scored 10 unanswered points over the final 12 minutes of the game to had Montesano a 27-20 defeat in the first round of the state tournament.
Tenth-seeded Montesano (6-4 overall) got off to an ominous start when quarterback Jayden McElravy’s pass was intercepted by Rams defensive back Tyler Lenz and returned 12 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the second quarter when running back Isaiah Pierce hit receiver Caydon Lovell on a halfback pass play for a 5-yard touchdown.
Mateo Sanchez’s extra point gave Monte a 7-6 lead.
No. 7 Riverside (10-1) responded with quarterback Silas Ng rolled to his right and hit receiver Jake Gaffaney downfield for a 36-yard touchdown pass.
With Monte down 14-7, McElravy brought the Bulldogs to within a point — after a failed PAT — with a 1-yard touchdown sneak.
The Rams closed out the half on a Gaffaney 26-yard field goal for a 17-13 lead.
Monte took the lead in the third quarter when Pierce — who had another big night rushing with 202 yards — scored on a 4-yard run.
Sanchez booted the point-after for a 20-17 Montesano lead.
Monte then caught a bad break as linebacker Jared Whisenhunt stripped the ball and returned it for what appeared to be a touchdown, putting Monte up by two scores late in the third quarter. But a referee’s inadvertent whistle nullified the play.
The Rams did all the scoring in the fourth quarter, getting a 52-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch from Ng to receiver Coldin Ackerman to take a 24-20 lead then capped off the victory with a 33-yard field goal from Gaffaney.
“It wasn’t our best performance of the season and that is my fault and responsibility,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said of the loss. “We turned the ball over three times and struggled in the passing game, and we gave up too many explosive plays on defense.”
Led by Pierce’s third straight 200-yard game, Monte outrushed Riverside 279-175.
But the Bulldogs completed just two passes on the night, with McElravy going 1-for-8 for five yards and two interceptions.
Ng completed 7-of-15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns to lead Riverside.
At the conclusion of yet another season that saw the Bulldogs reach the state tournament, Jensen reflected on a Montesano team that has dealt with more adversity over the past two seasons than any prior Bulldogs team.
“Very proud of this team,” he said. “They overcame a lot of adversity to make it to the state playoffs. Our hats off to the seniors for leaving the program better than when they started four years ago. They played their hearts out tonight.”