Rain created the perfect recipe for the Panthers to run the football right at the Beavers and force some big turnovers.
“I’ve lived here all my life and played football since the first grade and that was the rainiest game I’ve ever played in,” said quarterback Ryan Stevens. “But it was probably the most fun game I’ve ever played in.”
Washougal scored 16 points in the second quarter and shut out Woodland in the second, third and fourth quarters to secure a 26-8 victory Friday, at Fishback Stadium.
“When it started pouring, the happiest guy in the stadium was me,” said head coach Dave Hajek. “They are a shotgun team. [The rain] affected them more than it affected us.”
Marcos Martinez got the Panthers on the board first with a 49-yard touchdown run.
“I think that first run gave us the energy and fire we needed,” he said. “I was running to the right and I saw a giant wall of guys. I looked to the left and there was a gaping hole. Just took it all the way.”
The Beavers countered with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to gain a slim lead that lasted until a few minutes into the second quarter.
Stevens kicked a 24-yard field goal to give Washougal the lead again, by two. Tyler Bowlin intercepted a pass for the Panthers on defense and returned the ball 25 yards. Kade Coons snagged a short pass from Stevens and turned it into a 55-yard gain. Stevens kept the ball and crossed the goal line for a touchdown.
Jake Klackner recovered a fumble for Washougal. The Panthers backpedaled on offense and had to punt. Bowlin’s kick bounced slowly in front of the goal line and the Panthers pinned the Beavers on their own 1-yard line.
The ball slipped out of Woodland’s hands on the next snap, and Brevan Bea recovered the ball on the 2-yard line. Stevens scored his second touchdown to give Washougal a 15-point lead at halftime.
“I feel like the rain fueled us,” Stevens said. “Every time they had a turnover, our offensive line was ready to get a score. Alright boys, let’s put it in the end zone.”
The Panthers continued to hunt the Beavers in the second half. Klackner sacked the quarterback for a 12-yard loss to force a punt. Bea and Tristan Schipull trapped the quarterback on the next possession, and Grant Lewis came around the other side to complete the tackle.
Stevens hooked in a 34-yard field goal during the fourth quarter. Bea capped off a memorable defensive performance with an interception and a few more tackles.
“I knew at the beginning we had to come out strong, and we did exactly that,” Bea said. “Those fumble recoveries and picks helped us win that game.”
Washougal (3-4 overall, 3-2 in league) is one win away from securing a playoff spot for the first time since 2007. The Panthers host R.A. Long in their last league game Friday, at 7 p.m., at Fishback Stadium.
“People are always talking about how Washougal is so small and that we never go anywhere,” Martinez said. “It’s finally showed that we’re something big and we can change it around. It’s a big step for Washougal. I’m really proud of my guys and looking forward to the next game.”