Game Recap November 1, 2017
The season finale match-up between the Richland Bombers and the Hanford Falcons seemed, for a few fleeting minutes, like it would be a contest this year, but a few key plays and some tough defense brought the Bomber swagger back and turned the contest into a 50-0 blowout. Those 50 points are the most scored in the 13 game series, beating last year's 49, and the largest margin of victory as well. The Bombers also changed things up a little this game by actually scoring in the second half, something that has been rare this season. The shutout was a fitting end to a third straight sweep of the conference schedule, highlighted by touchdown bombs, merciless defense, and the occasional wild play.
The game could be summed up by each team's first offensive series. The Bombers took the opening kickoff, knocked some heads with the running game, gained yards after catches, and scored on a 37 yard pass. The Falcons fumbled a high snap on their first play, tried to regain lost ground for the next two plays, and then punted. That summary would be incomplete though, because after two easy touchdowns, the Falcon defense made a valiant attempt at shutting down the high-scoring Richland offense. The score stayed at 14-0 until nearly halftime, an unusual position for this team to be in. With a few seconds left Cade Jensen tossed a long ball to Sammy Cervantes down the right sideline, Cervantes pulled up at the goal line to reel the pass in, and the glimmer of a blowout was back. It could have been worse for Hanford. The following kickoff was bobbled by the receiver and recovered by Josh Mendoza on the Hanford 40 but the refs called a do-over due to an inadvertent whistle. 21-0 at the half would have to be good enough.
Revenge was had on the second half kickoff when Caleb Chapman recovered the returner's fumble at the Falcon 25. Jensen took it in on a deceptive keeper a few plays later to go up 28-0. Someone must have said something about someone's mother around this time, because Hanford's next offensive series was nothing but a highlight reel opportunity for the Bomber D. As six men charged into the backfield, the Falcon QB barely escaped the grasp of two linebackers but met his inevitable fate as he spun around and became the featured meat in a D end sandwich, thanks to Braden Powell and Cubby Stanfield, all for a 10 yard loss. If second down and 20 yards to go seemed daunting, third and 35 was worse, and that's what the QB had to work with after being mauled by Jax Lee, Aric Davison, and a blitzing Mendoza.
What do you do when you can't pass against a defense? Try running. That didn't work so well either. Davison and Stanfield made a pile on top of the running back at the line of scrimmage, forcing another punt. After suffering a turnover on downs, the Bomber D got the ball back via brotherly cooperation. The ball carrier was held up coming around the left side by Kobe Chapman and Mendoza, allowing Caleb Chapman to rip the ball away, recovered by Tyler Fishback near the sideline. Seven plays later Jensen rolled out to his right and threw a pass to the back corner of the endzone for Cervantes. Despite some limited success at keeping the Bombers at bay, the Falcon defense suddenly found themselves 35 points behind with little hope of help from their offensive counterparts. For the optimists, Hanford's next three-and-out ended with a nice punt, but any optimism was for naught as Adam Weissenfels took the punt at Richland's 40 yard line and wound his way back to Hanford's 10. He got his reward when Jensen saw him open on the left and zipped him a short TD pass.
The Falcons looked to make some headway and maintain some pride to start the fourth quarter by running for a first down, but their luck ran out when Nathan Mitchell read the QB and stepped in front of a long pass for Richland's first interception of the game. That one was good, but the second one was better. Having fought their way down field against the defensive subs, the starting D re-entered to preserve the shutout. Under pressure from a single linebacker blitz, the Hanford QB threw a short pass to a receiver cutting toward the middle. Unfortunately for him, Weissenfels was covering. Outrunning the receiver to the ball and undercutting him at the 3 yard line, Weissenfels rounded the corner and went up field between a couple good blocks and ran the entire field surrounded by his teammates, with only one Falcon maintaining sincere pursuit. The walk into the endzone looked pleasant. But Weissenfels wasn't done. The point after dropped out of the holder's hands, so Weissenfels, not content with an imperfect game, picked it up and sprinted left. An inhuman effort and a stiff arm cleared him just enough room to dive and touch the ball to the front pylon. To his credit, he waited for the signal from the official before taking a brief but well-deserved rest right there on the sideline.
There were plenty of highlights and notable moments in this game, Richland's first two touchdowns among them. Ryan Piper and Cody Sanderson both made big plays out of what could have been short catches, showing determination and toughness by fighting off tacklers and turning small gaps into big gains. The defense, of course, played its part by holding the MCC's rushing and overall yardage leader Jared Devine to 46 yards on the ground, denying him a 1,000 yard rushing season, and also held an offense averaging over 350 yards per game to 130. Jensen threw for 342 yards and five touchdowns. The Bombers kept mostly to the air, giving their two running backs only 24 carries combined, but Parker McCary and Jared Whitby ran tough and kept the Hanford defense honest, running for big gains when the Falcons slacked. Maybe the most underappreciated aspect of this win was the special teams play. Aside from Weissenfels' big effort on punt returns, consistent kick coverage kept Hanford pinned back in their own territory. Astute observers would have seen Caleb Chapman in on every available kickoff tackle and in the face of the receiver on every fair catch. His persistent pursuit and constant ripping at the ball pays provides an edge that will be valuable if Richland ever plays a close game.
When the regular season ends, the playoffs begin. First up is the winner of the three-way tie-breaker in the GSL, the Mead Panthers. Help us cheer the Bombers on at Edgar Brown Stadium this Friday at 7:00.
- Atomic TV Livestream: Hanford Falcons v. Richland Bombers
October 27, 20171234Final
- 1st Quarter
Touchdown: Ryan Piper 37 yard pass from Cade Jensen (Adam Weissenfels kick) (9:09)
Richland 7, Hanford 0
Touchdown: Cody Sanderson 37 yard pass from Jensen (Weissenfels kick) (6:42)
Richland 14, Hanford 0
- 2nd Quarter
Touchdown: Sammy Cervantes 36 yard pass from Jensen (Weissenfels kick) (0:23)
Richland 21, Hanford 0
- 3rd Quarter
Touchdown: Jensen 1 yard run (Weissenfels kick) (10:11)
Richland 28, Hanford 0
Touchdown: Cervantes 17 yard pass from Jensen (Weissenfels kick) (2:18)
Richland 35, Hanford 0
Touchdown: Weissenfels 5 yard pass from Jensen (Weissenfels kick) (0:18)
Richland 42, Hanford 0
- 4th Quarter
Touchdown: Weissenfels 96 yard interception return (Weissenfels run) (1:37)
Richland 50, Hanford 0