Summit did not deserve to lose this game. Not in the mind of Storm coach Joe Padilla.
The all-out effort was evident. Physically, Summit was up to speed. But mentally, there were some lapses and breakdowns. Because of those miscues, Padilla said, the Storm did not deserve to win on Friday night.
Summit built a 21-14 lead at the half and held that lead after three quarters, but The Dalles Wahtonka outscored the Storm 28-7 in the fourth, including two touchdowns within the final six minutes, to pick up a 42-28 nonconference football victory at Summit High.
“It’s obviously one that hurts a little bit, but it’s one that we almost need in some ways,” Padilla said, noting the Storm’s previous two games, a win and a loss, where the total margin of victory was seven points. “We’ve had some close ballgames in the last couple of weeks. ... This one, (The Dalles Wahtonka) really stacked up and hurt us.”
After holding the Eagle Indians (3-1 overall) to 130 total yards in the first half, Summit (2-2) gave up 197 after the intermission compared to the Storm’s 133.
But the turning point came midway through the third quarter, Padilla said, when The Dalles was pinned at its own 1-yard line after the Storm turned the ball over on downs.
The Eagle Indians eventually punted, but not after moving the ball to around their own 40-yard line.
“We had some momentum going,” said Padilla, whose team still led 21-14 at that point. “I figured our defense would step up. When (The Dalles) took it from the (1-yard line) and went all the way down the field, that was kind of the backbreaker for us.”
On their next possession, starting at Summit’s 31-yard line, and facing fourth down, the Eagle Indians found the end zone on a 29-yard pass from Chaise Shroll to Zach Nerdin. The two then connected on a two-point conversion to give The Dalles Wahtonka its first lead of the game, 22-21.
The Storm were forced to try a punt on the ensuing drive, but the snap got by Johnny Zuniga. Shroll was the first to get to it, and he stepped into the end zone to increase the Eagle Indians’ lead to 28-22.
Bransen Reynolds wasted little time getting Summit back into it, as the sophomore quarterback connected with Tyler Mullen for a 47-yard touchdown two minutes later to even the score a 28 apiece.
But that would be it for the Storm, as Shroll logged a 9-yard touchdown pass followed by a 5-yard scoring run to seal The Dalles Wahtonka win.
“Like I said to our kids, we just had some mental lapses,” Padilla said. “We had a breakdown here, a breakdown there defensively, allowed them to get some big plays. We had them pinned down, made some big plays defensively. We let them get back into it, giving up a screen, allowing receivers to get open off the play action. Those kinds of mistakes hurt us all night. We really let them stay in it.”
Mullen did it all for Summit, completing seven of 12 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, rushing 10 times for 75 yards and a score, and hauling in four passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He also recorded the lone interception for the Storm, which came late in the second quarter to set up Summit’s go-ahead touchdown. In all, Mullen accounted for 236 of Summit’s 321 yards of total offense.
“He’s a tremendous athlete, but he’s a warrior,” said Padilla, whose team hosts Redmond next Friday. “He goes all out every play until he’s done. And I don’t know if we’ve seen done yet. Last week and even tonight, what do you have left? As much as we need is the answer we always get.”
Reynolds finished eight of 20 for 143 yards and an interception, and Marc Hasenoehrl racked up 67 yards on 15 carries.
For the Eagle Indians, Shroll completed 16 of 29 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown, while Nerdin recorded three catches for 70 yards and a score.
The Storm did not deserve to lose, Padilla said, nor were they entitled to a victory. A loss hurts, but as Padilla stated, Summit needed it.
“I think our kids’ effort was great, but we definitely need to work on some things,” the second-year coach said. “We didn’t play enough to win that game mentally. Physically, kids are going to try hard, but mentally, we’ve got to get back in that.”