OLYMPIA — For all but two plays, Meadowdale football coach Mark Stewart got the defense he wanted Saturday.
But two letdowns resulted in two touchdowns in Capital’s dramatic 14-10 comeback win in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs, ending Meadowdale’s season.
“It was a hard-fought, quality playoff game,” Stewart said. “They’re a good football team. They did what they had to do to win. They’ve got a pretty good defensive team. They didn’t give us a lot.”
Capital pulled out a dramatic win after falling behind 10-0 early in the third quarter.
“For the most part, I thought we ran the ball well against them,” Stewart said. “They’ve got a pretty good defensive team.”
Meadowdale tailback Naji Moore-Taylor ran for 16 yards on his first carry and finished with 153 yards on 16 carries. Meadowdale finished with 275 yards in total offense, rushing for 207 and passing for 68.
Meadowdale led 7-0 at halftime, stopping Capital twice on fourth-and-1 inside the Mustangs’ 14.
Late in the first quarter, Meadowdale quarterback Matt McDonagh completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Bayer in the right corner of the end zone on third-and-goal, capping a nine-play, 76-yard drive for a 7-0 lead.
At the start of the third quarter, Capital drove to the Mavericks’ 10 only to be stopped on fourth-and-5. Meadowdale drove to Capital’s 18, with Taylor’s 55-yard run down the sideline keying the drive.
On fourth-and-6, Jourdain Henao kicked a 35-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.
In the first half, Capital drove inside the Cougar 20 four times and failed to score.
But Riley Wall, Capital’s gritty senior tailback playing on a sprained ankle, broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter, cutting the Mavs’ lead to 10-7 and giving the Cougars’ new life.
Wall appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage.
“I just kept my feet moving,” Wall said. “I didn’t run very well in the first half. That time I kept moving. I saw an opening and I just got on my horse and tried to go.”
Wall outran two defenders to the end zone. Prior to his touchdown romp, Wall had 28 yards on his 10 carries.
“It didn’t seem Riley was the same in the first half,” Capital coach JD Johnson said. “I told him at half just do what Riley does. Don’t worry about hitting the right hole. If you can break it, break it.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Capital quarterback Kellen Camus threaded a spiral between two defenders and into the hands of John Ingman for an 18-yard touchdown, giving the Cougars a four-point lead with 10:08 left.
It was Ingman’s first touchdown catch of the season.
“It was supposed to be a fade, but the safety cheated in, so I adjusted and just cut it in,” said Ingman, who caught one pass for the game. “We haven’t completed that pass all season. We haven’t run it a lot.”
After completing just 3-of-12 passes in the first half, Camus completed his last three passes of the game. Ingman’s catch was Camus’s last attempt.
“The pass was perfect,” Ingman said.
Capital, 8-3 and winners of five straight, advances to the quarterfinals and plays East Valley of Spokane at 1 p.m. Saturday in Spokane’s Joe Albi Stadium.
“This feels like a championship win,” Capital wide receiver Jourdan Weiks said. “We had to overcome so much. We never gave up. We fought back. Riley’s run really started everything. He got us going. Our defense saved us again. They’ve been doing that all year.”
In the first half, Capital drove to Meadowdale’s 22-, 8-, 19- and 14-yard line and didn’t score. Twice the Cougars were stopped on fourth-and-1 — at the 8 and the 14.
“It should have been 21-7 at halftime,” Johnson said. “Our kids knew that. When you get stopped on fourth-and-1, it breaks the momentum. But we always tell our defense to keep doing what your doing. The offense will get it going.”
On the second play of the game, Taylor fumbled and Capital’s Lars Hanson recovered at the Cougar 40. Capital then drove to the 22 and on fourth-and-5 Keean Joling missed a 40-yard field goal.
On Moore’s first carry of the game, he broke loose for a 16-yard run. He finished with 153 yards on 16 carries.
“We weren’t keying on anything,” Capital linebacker Austin Hull said. “We were just all doing our responsibilities. We do that and there’s nothing that can get around us. We were keying on our gaps.”
Wall rushed for 119 yards on 17 carries after he was held to 20 yards in the first half. Capital rushed for 172 yards and passed for 136 for 308 yards in total offense.
“This is a huge win,” Hull said. “But we’ve still got three more games to get that championship ring on our finger.”
Even when his team was trailing early in the third quarter, Johnson knew his team could win.
“We still thought we were there,” Johnson said. “It only takes a spark to start a fire.”
And Wall was that spark.
At Ingersol Stadium
M — Bayer 3 pass from McDonagh (Henao kick), 3:01.
M — Henao FG 35, 3:00.
C — Wall 73 run (Joling kick), 2:41.
C — Ingman 18 pass from Camus (Joling kick), 10:08.
Records—Meadowdale (6-4). Capital (8-3).