Cascade Christian running back Tyquan Coleman found the end zone four times Saturday night and the Class 1A No. 6-ranked Cougars blocked an extra point to hold off No. 9 Meridian late to win 34-33 at Sunset Chev Stadium.
After Zackary Bartolome powered through the Trojan defense for a 17-yard score that gave the Cougars a late seven-point lead, Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett connected with Andrew Logan on a 35-yard crossing route that put the Trojans within a PAT kick, 34-33, with two minutes to play.
In stepped Cascade Christian defensive lineman Nathan Suiter.
“I was out there for other kicks, so I read the call and made it past the guy at the end,” Suiter said.
With the game on the line, Suiter broke through Meridian’s protection and blocked Nick Sebastian’s kick, preserving the one-point victory for the Cougars.
“Boy, I tell you – you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that one,” said Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis, whose teams had never blocked an extra point to preserve a win.
“That was on us not having the guys ready for that play,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “We weren’t set up like we should have been, and guys made some mistakes tonight that ended up costing us.”
One player was Cascade Christian’s (3-0) No. 3 tailback Coleman, who took on a larger role in the offense after the Cougars lost starter Madden Tobeck (ankle) two weeks ago and backup Evan Patrick (collarbone) last week.
“It was because of my offensive line and the skill-position players blocking for me tonight,” said Coleman, who finished with 134 yards on 13 carries with touchdown runs of 2, 44, 12 and 17 yards.
“Zach Bartolome made a great block that let me get to the sideline, and I was able to outrun them for the score,” Coleman said of his 44-yard sprint.
After Cascade Christian had a forgettable start, the Cougars couldn’t fix the mental mistakes that led to an early Meridian lead.
After Meridian (1-2) forced a fourth and 15 from the 15-yard line, the Cougars used a fake punt and Austin Carder ran 18 yards for a first down, but a holding call killed the play.
Meridian broke through Cascade Christian’s offensive line on the next play, blocking the punt and recovering to set up a first and goal from the 1. Three plays later, Trojan quarterback Simon Burkett (8 for 17, 112 passing yards) scored from the 1 on a sneak to make it 7-0.
Cascade Christian’s offense began clicking after giving up the score to Meridian, as freshman quarterback Parker Johnson completed four passes, connecting with Austin Carder on a screen for 27 yards that set up the Cougars with a first down at the 2.
Coleman scored on a quick run, but Meridian maintained a 7-6 lead when the Cougars missed their extra point.
Cascade Christian forced a turnover on downs on Meridian’s next series, and Coleman responded by rifling off a 44-yard score, his second touchdown in as many touches, pushing the Cougars’ lead to 12-7.
Cascade Christian moved into the red zone for its third consecutive series after Carder drew a pass interference call, setting up a first down for the Cougars on the 10.
Two plays later, Coleman kept his balance on a hit and tumbled into the end zone for his third score of the half, this time a 12-yard run, to push the Cougars’ lead to 18-7.
Meridian found some rhythm to close the half, as Tony Schleimer scored on a 2-yard run to cap a seven-play, 60-drive, cutting the lead to 18-14 after the extra point by Sebastian.
After trading blows in the second half, Cascade Christian was able to hang on to win a close thriller late.
“There were too many guys to highlight tonight, as so many players stepped up,” Davis said.
Cascade Christian opens Nisqually League play against Chimicum (1-1) next Friday at Memorial Stadium in Port Townsend. Meridian will host Lynden Christian (0-2) as it opens the Northwest Conference play.