KENNEWICK — Either of the plays could have decided the game, and neither was executed as originally planned.
But when all was said and done Saturday, the Prosser Mustangs were able to not only evaluate the aforementioned action but celebrate it in truly triumphant fashion. After all, how often can a team avenge an earlier season defeat, and knock off the state’s unbeaten and top-ranked team in the process as Prosser did with its 15-14 conquest of Othello?
“On the fake punt,” Mustangs quarterback Ryan Fassler said as fans and teammates in Lampson Stadium savored their team’s second straight berth in Class 2A state semifinals, “Bubba (Frank) was supposed to throw it, and the guy he was supposed to throw it to was wide open. But Bubba’s got a flair for the dramatic, I guess, so he broke 10 tackles and got the first down anyway.”
Speaking of a flair for the dramatic, Fassler, too, had made a key move after Frank’s timely improvisation had sustained what proved to be the game-winning drive.
Those and other performances loomed large for the fourth-ranked Mustangs (11-1), who after their ninth straight victory since a 30-14 setback at Othello on Sept. 14 will meet Tumwater (11-1) next Saturday. The location will probably once again be Lampson, with the likely start time between 1 and 4 p.m.
“What a great high school football game,” said Prosser coach Benji Sonnichsen. “I said before that this was the best Othello team I’ve seen, and I still feel that way. We had to have some special things done by some special kids to win today, and we got them.”
Starting with Frank, the tireless senior punter-running back-linebacker, who on fourth and three from his own 36 yard line, dropped back to kick. The Mustangs trailed 14-8, and 1:12 remained in the third quarter.
Frank took the snap from center and faded to his right, looking for a receiver. Then he tucked the ball away and ran left, seemingly into multiple swarms of defenders. His effort to reach the first down marker seemed doomed on several occasions, but somehow the 5-foot-11, 201-pounder got there, diving out of bounds at the 40.
Six plays later, Fassler found Danny Raap in the back of the end zone with an 11-yard touchdown pass, and with 11:08 to play Trino Flores’ PAT gave Prosser its first lead.
The Mustangs had trailed 14-0 in the first half, but got a touchdown late in the second quarter on Frank’s 7-yard run to cap a six-play, 61-yard drive keyed by a 36-yard Fassler-to-Sterling Clark hookup.
Then Prosser got a monumental break when Huskies quarterback David Garza, who had been productive both throwing and running, sustained a knee injury with 13.7 seconds left before halftime. Garza did not return, with senior wideout Trevor Walker replacing him.
“That was huge, just as it would be for us if we lost our quarterback,” Frank said. “They couldn’t throw the deep ball after that, or at least they didn’t. Maybe they chose not to.”
Regardless, after producing 212 offensive yards in the first half, Othello managed just 135 in the second.
Fassler, meanwhile, was 17 for 22 passing for 138 yards and called a key fourth-quarter audible that helped the Mustangs run out the clock.
On third and three from his own 12 with 4:17 to play, the senior noticed Raap was one-on-one with a defender on a play designed for him to throw the ball to the opposite side of the field.
“When we played them the first time, on fourth and goal from the 3, the same thing happened,” Fassler said. “I had a chance to flip the play that time, and I didn’t.”
This time he did, and completed an easy throw to Raap for a 6-yard gain.
Frank and an adrenaline-fueled offensive line took over from there, driving to the Othello 10 where, after Frank had pushed his rushing total to 102 yards, Fassler took a knee to run out the clock.
“Bubba’s a beast,” Fassler said. “There’s no other way to describe him. That’s why we ran that play for the two-point conversion.”
Oh yes, that.
After the Mustangs’ first score, Othello was twice flagged for being offside while lining up for the conversion kick. So with the ball moved closer to goal line, Sonnichsen opted to have Fassler flip a shovel pass to Frank, who bulled his way over.
“That close,” Fassler, “we knew we could get enough push up front with Bubba carrying the ball. Good luck stopping him on a play like that.”
Or even on a botched fake punt.
Othello 0 14 0 0 — 14
Prosser 0 8 0 7 — 15
Oth — Trevor Walker 9 pass from David Garza (Miguel Gonzalez kick)
Oth — Josiah Petersen 1 run (Gonzalez kick)
Pros — Bubba Frank 7 run (Frank pass from Ryan Fassler)
Pros — Danny Raap 11 pass from Fassler (Trino Flores kick)
RUSHING — Othello, Tanner Wagner 12-41, Petersen 11-58, Garza 8-30, Walker 1-(minus 1). Prosser, Raap 4-8, Frank 22-102, Isaiah Sanders 2-14, Elijah Hoefer 1-8.
PASSING — Othello, Garza 7-13-1-120, Walker 1-3-0-6. Prosser, Fassler 17-22-0-138.
RECEIVING — Othello, Derek Cantu 2-12, Juston Lind 2-45. Walker 3-63, Petersen 1-6. Prosser, Flores 2-19, Sterling Clark 6-70, Raap 5-26, Harley Hall 2-12, Frank 1-11.