YAKIMA, Wash. -- When Eisenhower defensive back Melqui Lombera looked up at the scoreboard heading into the final period of Friday’s crosstown clash with Davis, he saw exactly what he hoped to — his crew putting up a shutout.
But as a senior he knows how crazy these games can get and how many weird bounces there can be, and sure enough, a few plays later and the Cadets were battling to hold the lead and withstand one of the classic rivalry rallies at Zaepfel Stadium.
Lombera’s teammates managed to pull it off, thanks in no small part to his two interceptions, but surviving a fierce finish for a 27-14 victory — Ike’s third in a row — was a good way to keep their education going.
“We wanted to win big, sure, but this was a good learning experience,” Lombera said. “We had a zero going in the second half and then let a couple touchdowns get by us. Davis played tough and (Nikhil) Lizotte made some plays. But we stuck together and didn’t panic. It got pretty tense at the end but we got the win.”
Davis, which has been gashed by Ike’s running game in recent years, came out determined to stop that trend and did, holding the Cadets to negative yards in the first half. But making Eisenhower one dimensional comes with big risks with the emergence of sophomore quarterback Chris Sawyer, who threw for a season-high 308 yards and four touchdowns — two to league-leading receiver Ridge Harmon.
But a 20-0 lead through three quarters did not hold up, partially because Ike turned the ball over three times deep in Davis territory, and the Pirates staged a thrilling bid for the upset in the fourth quarter.
Lizotte, Davis’ junior quarterback who menaced Ike for a game-high 101 rushing yards, connected with Kristian Sanders for an 11-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter. After the team’s traded interceptions, Lizotte and Sanders hooked up again on a 27-yard touchdown that trimmed the margin to 20-14 with six minutes still remaining.
With starting tailback Lucio Penaloza nursing an injury, Luis Leon helped the Cadets drain some time off the clock with four running plays on the next possession, including dashes of 19 and 37 yards. Between those runs, however, Sawyer hit brother Tyler Bernal-Sawyer on a short pass in the flat that Lizotte came dangerously close to intercepting.
Surviving that close call, the Cadets drove in for the clincher as Sawyer found Harmon and his trustworthy hands over the middle for a 6-yard score — his 17th touchdown pass in five games — that pushed the lead to 27-14 with 3:42 left.
Harmon finished with 13 receptions — one off his school record set last year — for 160 yards, and Bernal-Sawyer hauled in eight passes for 103 yards.
In addition to his 101 rushing yards, Lizotte completed 14 of 26 passes for 124 yards. On the play prior to Lombera’s interception in the fourth quarter, Lizotte appeared to finally cash in on the deep threat he was repeatedly trying for with a 72-yard touchdown to Eric Briscoe but it was nullified by a holding penalty.
All the offense and defense — his fourth-quarter pick and near-pick — made for a long yet impressive evening for the Davis junior.
“We’re not like a Moses Lake team with 80 guys that can sub in and out,” he lamented. “We do a lot of conditioning in practice, but we can’t afford for some of our players not to play both ways. Most quarterbacks in this league don’t play defense. It stinks depth-wise but it’s something we have to deal with.”
Sawyer finished his night completing 24 of 34 passes, helping the Cadets (3-1, 4-1) climb into a tie for first in the CBBN with Wenatchee and Moses Lake.
Next week the second half of conference play begins with Eisenhower traveling to Wenatchee and Davis hosting Eastmont. Ike and Davis will meet again in the regular-season finale on Nov. 8.
“We’re trying to get better each week, and this week we learned how to stick together at the end,” Lombera said. “It’s a big win to keep our momentum going.”
Eisenhower 0 7 13 7 — 27
Davis 0 0 0 14 — 14
Ike — Tyler Bernal-Sawyer 27 pass from Chris Sawyer (Greysen Gilman kick)
Ike — Ridge Harmon 17 pass from C. Sawyer (Gilman kick)
Ike — Darius Pati 21 pass from C. Sawyer (kick failed)
Davis — Kristian Sanders 11 pass from Nikhil Lizotte (Jesse Nickens kick)
Davis — Sanders 27 pass from Lizotte (Nickens kick)
Ike — Harmon 6 pass from C. Sawyer (Gilman kick)
RUSHING — Eisenhower, Luis Leon 10-72, Lucio Penaloza 14-57, Harmon 1-21, C. Sawyer 7-minus-24. Davis, Lizotte 16-101, Jackson Lewis 10-38, Santana Saiz 4-7, Jose Negrete 2-minus-1, Team 3-minus-13.
PASSING — Eisenhower, C. Sawyer 24-34-1-308. Davis, Lizotte 14-26-2-124.
RECEIVING — Eisenhower, Harmon 13-160, Bernal-Sawyer 8-103, Bryce Sargent 2-24, Pati 1-21. Davis, Sanders 5-68, Eric Briscoe 4-27, Max Jones 2-16, Ketner Kupp 1-12, Tyezaeh Walker 1-2, Lewis 1-minus-1.