The Wahkiakum Mule defense provided the edge as the Mules defeated the Tigers 31-28 in a Central League football game at Napavine last Friday.
The win gave the Mules a 6-0 season record; they host the 6-0 Morton/White Pass Timberwolves on Friday in a game that will decide the Central League championship.
"Napavine is one of the best three-loss teams in the state," commented Mule Coach Eric Hansen. "They're solid.
"We made our defensive plays when we had to."
The Tigers led 14-13 at halftime and scored twice in the third quarter to lead 28-19 going into the fourth.
Lars Blix connected with Austin Good on an 11-yard touchdown pass play with 8:29 to go to cut the Tiger lead to 28-25.
One of the defensive plays that Hansen spoke of came when the Tigers got the ball after the Mule touchdown. Nathan Cothren and Steven Doumit converged on a Tiger ball carrier; the ball popped out, and Good recovered it in Tiger territory. Blix connected twice on passes to Travis Wegdahl, the second a 21-yard touchdown, and the Mules led 31-28 with 5:31 to go.
"That's a lot of time left in the game," Hansen said.
The Mule defense, however, held the Tiger offense in check and took over when Napavine couldn't convert a fourth down. The Mule offense then ran out the clock, giving the Mules their first win over the Tigers in five years.
"It was like we won the Super Bowl," Hansen said.
The game was an offensive show. Each team had 15 first downs. Neither team punted. The Mules lost two pass interceptions; Napavine lost the fourth-quarter fumble.
Overall, the Mules gained 360 yards, 156 on 26 runs and 204 on 12 passes. The Tigers had 323 yards, 259 on 43 runs and 64 on six passes.
For the Mules, Doumit ran the ball nine times and gained 122 yards; he scored on runs of 12 yards (first quarter) and 59 yards (third quarter). Blix carried nine times for 36 yards, and Good ran four times for 4 yards.
Blix completed 12 of 14 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Peter Weiler caught four for 89 yards, one a 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Wegdahl caught three for 50 yards and one touchdown; Good caught two for 25 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter; Steven Doumit caught two for 20 yards, and Seth Doumit had one catch for 20 yards.
Steven Doumit led the defense with 15 tackles; Blix had 11, Cothren 10, Bubba Calvert nine and Mason Mackey eight.
The Mules host the undefeated, top-ranked Morton/White Pass Timberwolves on Friday.
The Timberwolves are a big team with plenty of experience; they reached the state championship last year. The Timberwolves defeated Toutle Lake 27-7 last Friday in a game closer than the score indicates.
The game will be senior night for the Mules; there will be introductions of senior Mule football players, cheerleaders and cross country runners before the game.
The revitalized Mules booster club will also sell hamburgers and hotdogs from 5:30 until 6:45 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.