SULTAN — Offense dominated both sides of this Cascade Conference contest, but Sultan’s ground game proved to be the superior weapon in a 40-28 win over South Whidbey.
Both teams scored almost at-will in the first half. The Turks received the opening kickoff and had three big runs on three plays culminating in a 38-yard touchdown run by Cooper Beucherie.
The Falcons started their air attack on the next possession with a long pass to Kale Reichersamer but it was called back for holding. The penalty didn’t slow the Falcons down, as they continued to launch the ball, scoring a few plays later on a 54-yard TD pass to Reichersamer from Nick Bennett. Another French passing TD and a rushing TD by Sultan’s Antonio Rivas left it tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Sultan broke the tie early in the second when Rivas carried the ball most of the length of the field on about three carries, and James MacKenzie finished it off with a 4-yard TD run.
The Turks’ lead didn’t last long though. The Falcons continued to trade blows, breaking through with a 47-yard passing touchdown to Cooper Nichols, making it 21-21.
The barrage of points quieted a bit when the teams came back from the locker room. South Whidbey got into the red zone midway through the quarter, but Beucherie snagged an interception to keep the lead for the Turks.
Then Sultan went on a tear, breaking it open and securing the Cascade Conference win.
Backed up a bit and facing third-and-3, Beucherie had a key conversion. After the first down, a long run by Antonio Rivas and a 15-yard penalty set Sultan up for another TD. This time it was in the air for the Turks’ only passing TD of the game, 21 yards from Deion Bonilla to Bubba Branham to take the 34-21 lead.
Rivas — who had 213 yards on 13 carries on the night — got through for a big run yet again, 55 yards for a TD to break things open at the start of the fourth. Sultan fumbled the 2-point conversion attempt, but led 40-21.
Beucherie also had impressive running totals with 31 carries for 235 yards and 2 TD. MacKenzie almost added another TD late when he ran wide right and found the whole field open in front of him, running 72 yards into the end zone, but a flag erased the play.
South Whidbey made some noise with 4:32 left, scoring seven to make it 40-28, then trying an onside kick down just 12. The kick was fielded cleanly by Sultan, however and the Turks continued their dominance on the ground, eating up yards and clock time in chunks.
The Falcon’s had one last glimmer of hope when Beucherie fumbled just shy of the end zone, but the Turks recovered and ran out the clock.
The game was good practice for both teams, each of which are preparing for playoff runs. “We wanted to work on staying hard-nosed and running the ball. They came out throwing and they never waivered from that. We’ve got to shore up some of our coverage, work on a few things, if we do that it will be really good for us. We know Lynden likes to throw the ball, and we’ll see them in a few weeks,” said Murphy, who also noted that the Falcons are headed into a Tri-District tournament with Northwest Conference teams that like to run.
At Sultan H.S.
S—Beucherie 38 run (Gonzalez kick)
SW—Reichersamer 58 pass from French (Nichols kick)
SW—Nick Bennett 48 pass from French (Nichols kick)
S—Rivas 6 run (Gonzalez kick)
S—MacKenzie 4 run (Gonzalez kick)
SW—Cooper Nichols 47 pass from French (Nichols kick)
S—Beucherie 45 run (Gonzalez kick)
S—Branham 21 pass from Bonilla (blocked kick)
S—Rivas 55 run (conversion failed)
SW—Bennet 10 pass from #13 (Nichols kick)
Records—South Whidbey 2-3 league, 5-3 overall. Sultan 4-2, 4-4.