Sep. 15—PULLMAN — It's not rare that blowout games are considered less entertaining than others (aside from the players, coaches and fans of the team on the winning end). But the Pullman Greyhounds' 35-7 2A Greater Spokane League win over the North Central Wolfpack of Spokane was a game with an equally memorable beginning, middle and end.
Pullman senior Champ Powaukee had an elite showing and the game was called due to unusual circumstances and throughout it all, the Greyhounds (2-1, 1-0) were honoring and celebrating a teammate and friend going through the fight of his life.
Here are some of the highlights.
Have a night, Powaukee and Stewart
Pullman began the game on offense and had a sustained drive all the way down to the North Central red zone. Sophomore quarterback Connor Stewart, filling in for an injured Caleb Northcroft, connected with Powaukee on a 10-yard grab. The touchdown put the Greyhounds up and was the precursor to a huge night for the fourth-year wideout/defensive back.
Powaukee, who had three more touchdown grabs of 90, 34 and 72 yards, had more than 200 yards receiving for the day on his touchdown grabs alone. He continued his elite play on the other side of the ball and snagged a crucial third-quarter interception after the Wolfpack (0-3, 0-1) drove into Pullman's side of the field.
Stewart, who saw his first start of the season after coming in during the second half of the Greyhounds' Sept. 8 game against Moscow, had five total passing touchdowns on the day including his four to Powaukee. His fifth was a 77-yard connection to junior receiver Gavin Brown that was the final score of the game.
"It really means a lot for our team," Powaukee said about the offense's performance. "We've been wanting to start off this good — start off 2-1, get momentum going, start off good and play better."
North Central's only score of the game came near the end of the first half. Pullman attempted to punt deep within its own territory and the snap was sent over the punter's head and was recovered in the end zone by the Wolfpack's Zach Schlettert with 52 seconds left in the half.
As dominant as the offense was on Thursday, the Greyhounds' defense has been just as solid the past two weeks. After Pullman allowed 42 points to the Lakeland Hawks of Rathdrum, Idaho in Week 1, the unit turned it around and allowed an average of 8.5 points per game in its last two outings against Moscow and North Central. Arguably the biggest defensive highlight of the night came at the end of the third quarter into the beginning of the fourth. The Wolfpack drove into the red zone and had several opportunities in down-and-goal situations after three Pullman penalties gave North Central a first-and-goal and two repeat downs.
The Greyhounds' defense forced a turnover on downs on fourth-and-goal to keep the Wolfpack at seven points.
"It's definitely something we strive for — being a complete football team," Pullman coach David Cofer said. "This week was a really good week to work on some of those things. It was a short week, kind of a weird setup that we had and I thought our kids responded to that really well."
Stewart's connection to Brown put Pullman up 35-7 with nine minutes, 24 seconds left in the game. After the touchdown, referees met with coaches and athletic personnel on the field to have a discussion.
While the officials and coaches were having their discussion, the PA announcer reiterated the WIAA policy on respectful behavior for the players, coaches and fans at athletic events. Just a moment after, the game was called due to what was announced as "unsportsmanlike conduct."
Cofer elaborated on what was discussed between the coaches and referees during the meeting.
He said the unsportsmanlike conduct was due to allegations of "discriminatory language" used throughout the game. Both teams were issued a warning regarding the allegations of the language. The allegations persisted and the game was called.
Neither team was told who allegedly used the language or who levied the allegations to begin with and officials informed the coaches that they did not personally hear the language being used.
"(That call) is a new one for me," Cofer said. "We'll have to figure it out. But I hate that it takes away from such a good game."
Honoring a friend
The Greyhounds wore decals with the number 22 on their helmets. The decals were to honor senior Terran Page, who was diagnosed with a blood disorder called Aplastic Anemia. There are only a few hundred cases reported annually in the United States. In a Pullman press release, it was stated that Page is expected to have a bone marrow transplant. He is receiving treatments in Spokane and no longer attending Pullman High School as a result of his battle with the illness.
"It means so much to us personally (to get this win for him)," Powaukee said. "That's been our teammate — that's been my teammate for two years. First time meeting him was freshman year, and I didn't know anybody. It means a lot to me, because that's my best friend."
Cofer also described how important Page is to the team.
"It's heartbreaking that a kid has to go through that," Cofer said. "Going into his senior year, he trained so hard (for this season). Football is really his passion. All we can do is move forward and he has a really good attitude about things. I've been in contact throughout this whole process with him and I think he's handled it really well.
"...It's huge adversity, but he's a fighter. And he's got a great spirit about him. And we're just trying to do the best we can to be there for him."
North Central 0 7 0 0—7
Pullman 7 14 7 7—35
Pullman — Champ Powaukee 10 pass from Connor Stewart (kick good)
Pullman — Powaukee 90 pass from Stewart (kick good)
Pullman — Powaukee 34 pass from Stewart (kick good)
North Central — Zach Schlettert fumble recovery (kick good)
Pullman — Powaukee 72 pass from Stewart (kick good)
Pullman — Gavin Brown 77 pass from Stewart (kick good)
Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.