SELAH — Prosser knows by now how to handle big situations in a tough road environment.
The Mustangs have played only one game at home in four weeks, and coach Corey Ingvalson made sure his team understood the importance of Friday’s night game at Selah, the defending CWAC champions. So just when the Vikings looked poised to complete a remarkable comeback and finally take the lead, Prosser’s defense held strong for a 28-23 win.
“You kind of, I guess, could assume that was going to come down to the final quarter, maybe even the final drive with these guys,” Ingvalson said. “For (the defense) to step up in that situation, we showed a lot of growth, hopefully, to respond and it shows from Week 1 to now how much we’ve already grown.”
The season opener saw Sunnyside score late to hand the Mustangs a heartbreaking loss, but they bounced back to edge West Valley and blow out Ephrata. It looked as if they might cruise to a third straight win early, as Selah lost three fumbles to boost Prosser’s offense.
Despite two interceptions, the three-man rushing attack of Kord Tuttle, Logan Candanoza and Tyler Durbin carried the Mustangs to a 21-0 lead. A determined offensive line largely overcame a size disadvantage against 6-foot-4 senior Skylar Rayburn and Selah, as all three backs rushed at least nine times for a combined 133 yards before halftime.
“It keeps everyone fresh because all of our running backs start on defense also,” said Kord Tuttle, who led the way with a game-high 106 yards on 23 carries. “So if it was any less, it would be hard to play both sides of the ball as hard as we can.”
That energy helped a swarming defense largely contain Selah’s do-it-all running back Jake Weber, although he broke free for a much-needed 35-yard screen pass on the Vikings’ opening drive of the second half. Prosser found another answer when Case Reinmuth picked off a pass near the end zone four plays later to keep the Mustangs in control.
An injury from Selah’s 24-13 win over Davis last week kept sophomore quarterback Heath Yochum on the sideline, limiting Selah’s offense by not allowing senior Cameron Ditter to play wide receiver. He often struggled to find time to throw but still made an electric play to energize a desperate offense, scrambling for a 23-yard touchdown on 4th and 16 in the third quarter.
The Mustangs responded early in the fourth quarter to go up 28-9 on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Will Weinmann to Will Thompson, who Ingvalson said has gotten plenty of opportunities thanks to defenses paying more attention to sophomore Haden Hicks after a sensational start to the season. Thompson used his explosive speed to beat his man down the sideline on multiple occasions, catching three passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
Prosser’s dominance at the line of scrimmage began to fade after halftime, and Selah did just enough while taking advantage of penalties to find the end zone on three straight drives. Jake Weber got around the corner on a seven-yard run and Ditter used a little more time in the pocket to throw for 167 of his 197 yards in the second half, including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Coleman.
“We made a lot of mistakes that we can correct, but ultimately you’ve got to give credit to Selah,” Ingvalson said. “They’re so physical. Rayburn’s a load. Those are hard guys to move.”
Still, the Mustangs broke through enough to gang tackle Weber for a loss on third and one just inside the 50 with barely a minute remaining. A hurried throw from Ditter fell incomplete on the next play, sending Prosser’s ecstatic defense back to the sideline to celebrate.
It’s no secret Selah (0-1 CWAC, 3-1 overall) posed the biggest obstacle between the Mustangs and a CWAC title. Although they still need to win three more games, starting with their CWAC home opener next week against Grandview, Tuttle called Friday’s victory “a big stepping stone.”
“We have some schools that we can’t sleep on later in the season and we just have to continue to get better,” Tuttle said. “Don’t get lazy the rest of the season.”
After losing for the first time in the last 14 regular season games, the Vikings will try to bounce back next Friday against visiting Toppenish.
Prosser 7 14 0 7 — 28
Selah 0 3 6 14 — 23
Pro — Will Weinmann 1 rush (Ryan Beightol kick)
Pro — Will Thompson 22 pass from Weinmann (Beightol kick)
Pro — Kord Tuttle 1 run (Beightol kick)
Sel — Andrew Hall 31 FG
Sel — Cameron Ditter 23 run (pass failed)
Pro — Thompson 46 pass from Weinmann (Beightol kick)
Sel — Jake Weber 7 run (Hall kick)
Sel — Kyler Coleman 8 passs from Ditter (Hall kick)
RUSHING — Prosser, Kord Tuttle 23-106, Logan Candenoza 18-49, Tyler Durbin 9-51, Will Weinmann 5-5. TEAM 2-(-2). Selah, Maleek Morfin 1-(-2), Weber 13-50, Ditter 9-36.
PASSING — Prosser, Weinman 9-16-2-135. Selah, Ditter 17-25-1-197, Gabe McMillan 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Prosser, Thompson 3-71, Haden Hicks 6-64. Selah, Kyler Coleman 6-75, Caleb Kuhn 5-34, Weber 3-34, Hall 2-22, Anthony Huitron 1-17, Morfin 1-15.