Golden West hushes Bullpups with late touchdown
- Josiah Washington catches 31 yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left to defeat Hanford
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
VISALIA – Most wouldn’t think that a 1-6 Hanford team walking into Groppetti Automotive Stadium would give the 5-1 Golden West Trailblazers such a battle, but they did. In fact the Hanford Bullpups almost held off the Blazers in the final few minutes of the game. That was until Golden West drove 96 yards down the field for a final minute touchdown.
Golden West head coach Paul Preheim gave the Bullpups some much deserved credit, and noted that anything can happen in the West Yosemite League (WYL).
“This is the wild wild west and anyone who has seen film on Hanford knows they are a much better team than their record,” Preheim said.
For all intents and purposes the Bullpups had the momentum with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter. While they had to punt on a drive that carried them into Golden West territory, they did manage to pin the Blazers to their 4 yard line.
Golden West relied on the trusty legs of Kai Caudell and Gonzalo Rodriguez to grab yardage on the ground. Caudell had a big play early in the drive to get a first down and move the offense from the shadow of their end zone. And when the drive could have ended on a fourth and four the offense once again called Caudell number to make the difference. Caudell took his opportunity and made the most of it with a huge run on the near side of the field, setting up the Blazers on the Hanford side of the fifty.
Despite the Blazers production time was winding down on their comeback hopes. After a run by Rodriguez got stuffed in the backfield forcing a third and 11 from the 31 yard line with the 29 seconds left, the Blazers called one of their two timeouts to regroup.
Golden West is far from a traditional passing team. Instead they like to make their presence known on the ground while they rumble through defenses. But with the game on the line, offensive coordinator Stan Kanawyer put the ball in quarterback Payton Allen’s hands.
After a play action fake to both Rodriguez and Caudell, Allen had two receivers open, one in the middle and then Josiah Washington. Standing at 6’ 3” and 215 pounds he is a mismatch for most corners. And while he could have gone with the easy completion in the middle to get the first and set up for another play, he instead decided to exploit the mismatch on the outside.
“He’s just a guy I trusted. He worked hard throughout practice,” said Allen.
Washington didn’t have to jump very high to snatch the ball out of the air but his catch was still contested. Regardless of how hard the corner tried to pull him down, Washington fought through and took two steps in for the score.
The reaction from the sideline was nothing short of pandemonium as players rushed to end zone to celebrate.
Golden West’s 2-point conversion attempt failed but the defense managed to pull Hanford’s quarterback to the ground in the end zone on the final play of the game to make the final 28-22.
Golden West will welcome the Hanford West Huskies to town this week, Friday, Oct. 20. The Huskies have struggled to find wins against their WYL opponents as they have gone winless in league thus far.