Vargas, Chiawana outrun Hanford 49-35

Courtesty Tri City Herald

Chiawana might not quite have the same caliber as they have in years past. After playing in two straight state championship games — winning the title two years ago — the Riverhawks are fighting just to make the playoffs this season.

They showed how much fight they had Friday night. Chiawana withstood a comeback bid from the upstart Hanford Falcons before finally pulling away in the final minutes.

Andrew Vargas capped his big night with a 39-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining in the game as the Riverhawks pulled out a hard-fought 49-35 win over the Falcons at Fran Rish Stadium.

The win gets Chiawana back to .500 on the season at 3-3 and 2-2 in the Mid-Columbia Conference. Meanwhile, Hanford falls to 4-2 and is also 2-2 in the conference.

Vargas was a workhorse all night for the Riverhawks, carrying the ball 43 times for 327 yards and three touchdowns. But it was his final run of the night that was his biggest.

After Hanford closed the gap to 42-35 with 2:15 remaining, the Riverhawks were facing a second down and 10. That’s when Vargas burst through the right side of the line and reached the end zone to all but put the game out of reach.

Vargas also had a 63-yard touchdown run in the game as the Riverhawks scored 21 fourth-quarter points.

Forgetful Start

Falcons start was a forgetful one. Hanford turned the ball over two times – and interception and a fumble – and also was penalized for a holding in the end zone which resulted in a safety. The Falcons offense managed just 17 yards of total offense in the first 12 minutes.

Chiawana capitalized on those mistakes and rushed out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to two quick touchdowns and a safety.

Coming Back

With the clock turning to the second quarter, it also seem to turn the Falcons fortunes around. Hanford, on its first possession of the second quarter, got on the scoreboard with a 28-yard touchdown catch by Gavin Slack from freshman quarterback Joshua Fonner to cut the margin to 14-7.

The Falcons completely erased the slow start on their next drive, using 8 plays to go 76 yards for a touchdown, this time on a 12-yard run by Tayvonne Miller to tie the game.

The game went back-and-forth from there and Falcons tied the game at 28 late in the third quarter on a Miller 14-yard run.

Chiawana soars to 45-13 victory over Southridge

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If there was any question as to how the young Chiawana football team would bounce back from a big loss at Richland, the answer was pretty clear early on.

The Riverhawks breezed 57 yards downfield in less than 90 seconds for an Andrew Vargas touchdown, and Chiawana was off to the races against the undermanned and undersized Suns.

The Riverhawks pulled away with a big second-quarter scoring spree on their way to a 45-13 victory at Edgar Brown Stadium.

Chiawana improved to 2-2 overall on the season, while Southridge fell to 1-3 after losing its third consecutive game.

Vargas had a big night running the ball, carrying the ball 19 times for 127 yards and four touchdowns. His second touchdown run, a 3-yard jaunt, put the Riverhawks in front 21-0 with 9:50 remaining in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Suns’ run-oriented offense was kept in check all night, rushing the ball 40 times for just 148 yards. Southridge had just 210 yards of total offense.

Scoring in bunches

After the opening drive, the game seemed to settle down for the Suns. But that was before the Riverhawks scored 21 points in 2:31 to break the game wide open.

Troy Simpkins connected with Roman Ruiz for a 21-yard touchdown reception on fourth down to push the lead to 14-0 with 10:04 remaining in the first half. It was the second fourth-down conversion on the drive for Chiawana.

Southridge fumbled the ensuing kickoff.

One play and 14 seconds later, Vargas was in the end zone as the lead grew to 21-0.

Southridge gave the ball right back to the Riverhawks a few plays later on an interception by Hayden Carrasco. On the next play, Simpkins connected with Ruiz for a second time, this time from 20 yards to push the lead to 28-0.

Ending the drought

The run-first Suns try to mix in a few passes here and there, but it has been a struggle the past two games.

Last week, the Suns did not complete a pass, going 0-for-9 with one interception.

The Suns snapped the string of incomplete passes late in the second quarter on a screen pass to Zayid Al-Ghani that went for 43 yards, setting up an Al-Ghani 5-yard touchdown run right before halftime.

For the game, Southridge quarterbacks combined to go 2-for-5 for 62 yards.

Richland tops Chiawana 28-7 in MCC showdown

The excitable fans at Fran Rish Stadium got to see what makes Lakota Wills one of the state’s top football recruits during Richland’s 28-7 Mid-Columbia Conference win over Chiawana.

But Wills decided long before this game began that the Bombers wouldn’t end up on the losing end of another Riverhawks matchup.

At least not on his watch.

“I was so excited today. I was walking through school, and everybody’s like, ‘Are you guys going to get blown out?’ Wills said. “I was like, ‘No, we’re not. We’re going to beat Chiawana.’ ”

Wills was a big part of that, recording two quarterback sacks, several quarterback hurries, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble that Richland recovered to set up their second touchdown.

“This means the world. My sophomore and junior year we got beat bad. I just wanted to come out and beat them fair and square, and that’s what we did. I’m so proud of my team,” said Wills, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker and tight end who recently committed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Lately, though, he’s been paying dividends for Richland at running back. He didn’t run for a lot of yardage Friday night — just 14 yards on five carries — but he capped two scoring drives with touchdown runs that helped the Bombers seal just their second win over Chiawana in the last six seasons.

“That’s Lakota Wills. That’s how he plays. There’s no bottom to him. He goes 100 miles an hour all the time,” Richland coach Mike Neidhold said. “He’s a great kid, a great leader and we love him.”

The game started as a tug-of-war, with both teams trading fruitless possessions up until the final 5 minutes of the second quarter.

Wills sacked Riverhawks quarterback for a 7-yard loss on first down with 4:20 left in the half. Chiawana was forced to punt, and — after a nice return by Griffey March — Richland took the next 1:09 to mount a 7-play, 49-yard scoring drive.

Bombers quarterback Paxton Stevens hit Rhett Levin on a 15-yard curl to put them at the Riverhawks’ 9-yard line. Stevens ran it in from there to make it 7-0.

But Richland took advantage of an Andrew Vargas fumble, setting the Bombers up at the Riverhawks 13. Two plays later, Wills ran it in from 5 yards to make it 14-0 at halftime.

“Our defense kept us in it. When your defense keeps forcing three-and-outs. ... The better your defense plays, the better your offense gets,” Neidhold said. “We got a couple of lucky breaks down there, and that paid off for us.”

Richland extended its lead to 21-0 on its second drive of the third quarter, going on a five-play, 66-yard drive on the Bombers’ only passing touchdown of the day. Paxton Stevens found Alex Chapman behind the Chiawana defense and hit him for a 47-yard strike.

Stevens didn’t have his best day, going 10-for-20 with three interceptions and 156 yards, but fortunately, his offensive line gave Richland a lot of room to run.

“I’m definitely proud of my linemen. They don’t get enough credit,” Wills said. “They blocked that zone perfect, and I could just run free. I loved it.”

Chiawana running back Andrew Vargas carried the Riverhawks offense for most of the night, rushing for 232 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries. But he fumbled the ball away twice, the last time at the Bombers’ 2-yard line on Chiawana’s final drive.

“We’ve had our trouble the last couple years against Chiawana and coach (Steve) Graff and his kids. As you saw, there’s no quit in them. They are a proud program, and we were fortunate to win it,” Neidhold said.

Play of the day

There weren’t a lot of long plays on the day, but certainly one of the prettiest was Paxton’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Chapman, who only had to stay in bounds and catch the beautifully thrown ball for the Bombers third TD.

Turning point

The teams were still scoreless near the end of the first half, and another Richland drive looked like it might end without a score after Paxton threw three consecutive incompletions. But on fourth-and-10 from the Riverhawks’ 35, Stevens used his legs to get a first down, scrambling around left end for a first down at the Chiawana 24.

Defensive stars

Richland: LB Taiton Gillespie (interception); LB Kyle Whitby (fumble recovery).

Chiawana: DB Roman Ruiz (interception); DB Bell (interception); DB Trent Simpkins (interception)

Chiawana grinds out 27-16 win over Wenatchee

Before Friday night’s game against visiting Wenatchee, Chiawana coach Steve Graff wanted to see improvement in his young Riverhawks team.

“Typically you see the most improvements between the first and second game,” Graff said.

After the game, Graff sighed, “We have some work to do.”

Chiawana was able to get in the win column with a 27-16 come-from-behind victory over the Panthers at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.

Paced by the running of Andrew Vargas, the Riverhawks used a 93-yard drive during the fourth quarter to push across the winning score. Corey Bell, who missed last week’s opener against Camas, scored the touchdown on a 13-yard sweep around the left end.

Vargas finished the night with 32 carries for 248 yards on the ground, many coming up the middle.

“He (Vargas) runs hard,” Graff said. “The offensive line blocked better for him tonight, which was good to see.”

Wenatchee was driving for a go-ahead score, converting a 4th-and-14 yard play on a 16-yard scramble by Wenatchee quarterback Rowan Parmenter moving the ball down to the 11 trailing 20-16. Then the Riverhawks’ defense stiffened and took over the ball at their own 7-yard line with 6:08 remaining.

Vargas took over for runs of 24, 20 and 12 yards during the drive leading to Bell’s score.

Wenatchee started strong leading 9-7 at halftime. Chiawana took the lead in the third quarter when quarterback Troy Simpkins connected with Michael Sanchez over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown.

But three plays later, Parmenter hit Tony Esquivel on a swing pass, and Esquivel scampered 80 yards through the Chiawana defense for the score, giving the Panthers the lead back.

Chiawana finished out the scoring and earned the victory

Chiawana loses to Camas 35-14 in prep football opener