By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
SULTAN — Entering Friday night’s Black and Blue Bowl, Sultan’s Cooper Beucherie had never lost to Granite Falls. He wasn’t about to let that change on the Turks’ home turf during his senior season.
“I never want to lose to Granite,” the senior running back said.
Other than his freshman year, when he didn’t play varsity, Sultan’s 41-14 victory Friday night means that Beucherie will be able to say he’s undefeated against the Tigers.
“It means everything,” Beucherie said. “We come out and prepare for this game every year to beat Granite because they are our rival.”
No matter that the Tigers were 0-3 entering the game, or that the Turks were tied atop the Cascade Conference with a 1-0 league record. This was a rival game, and from the opening kick the Turks were intense and aggressive. Granite Falls’ only points came on a trick play and a final-minute touchdown against Sultan’s reserves.
Sultan coach Ben Murphy could only point to one negative after the game — penalties. (The referees used blue flags instead of yellow ones Friday night, a prostate cancer awareness initiative.)
“We definitely need to clean some things up,” Murphy said. “We knew going into the week that we wanted to play fast and we had some kids that were overanxious to put their best foot forward tonight.
“Our kids take (the rivalry) seriously and they were a bit overexcited tonight and that’s where some of the penalties came from.”
Sultan jumped ahead 21-0 early in the second quarter and never looked back.
Beucherie scored the Turks’ first three touchdowns and ran for 168 yards in the first half. Unofficially, he finished with 257 yards on 25 carries and had a two-point conversion. Senior captain Antonio Rivas rushed for 100 yards on nine carries.
The offensive line was key to Sultan’s success running the ball. Beucherie and the other Turk ball carriers routinely found themselves four yards past the line of scrimmage before meeting any resistance from the Tigers.
“They made every hole possible for me to hit,” Beucherie said. “The only reason I could get yardage was because of my line. Amazing job by them.”
Granite coach Tracey Bechtholdt said the Turks’ offensive linemen made the difference in the game.
“They beat us. They beat us up front,” he said. “They did a good job of running their offense. I think we gave up 300 yards rushing in the first half and you can’t win games doing that.”
Though the Tigers and Turks have been playing for years, this is the fourth year of Black and Blue Bowl, where the winner takes home a trophy. Sultan is now 3-1.
Bechtholdt’s team kept fighting until the final minute when it scored its second touchdown.
“Our kids kept playing,” Bechtholdt said. “We could have folded up our tent, but we kept playing. Sometimes it doesn’t come out your way, but we tell our kids if you can look yourself in the mirror and say you gave it everything you had, that’s OK.”
After beating its rival, Sultan, now 2-0 in Cascade Conference play, has its sights set on its next goal.
“It’s nice,” Murphy said. “We’ve got a lot of goals to accomplish. We are proud of what we’ve done but we’ve got more to do.”
A big test comes next week at King’s.
“We are going to try to put it to them,” Beucherie said. “They are a good team.”
At Sultan H.S.
Granite Falls 0 7 0 7 — 14
Sultan 13 14 7 7 — 41
S—Cooper Beucherie 22 run (Josh Gonzalez kick)
S— Beucherie 4 run (kick failed)
S—Beucherie 1 run (Beucherie run)
GF—Alex O’Neill 48 pass from Daniel Head (Head kick)
S—Antonio Rivas 14 pass from Deion Bonilla (kick failed)
S—James Kern 10 run (Gonzalez kick)
S—James MacKenzie 5 run (Gonzalez kick)
GF—Daniel Head 1 run (Head kick)