Crunch time had arrived, and Washington High coach Mike Von Rueden faced something he never had in football Friday night.
Four convert-or-go home plays.
One by one, the Patriots passed the test – and ultimately survived for a 22-21 non-league victory at Centralia.
After Washington receiver Victor Gamboa got the Patriots a first down on a fourth-and-2 screen play with under a minute to go, the SPSL 2A contenders faced another do-or-die play – this time on fourth and goal with the Tigers’ 1-yard line.
And on second effort, senior Jordan Mezias scored on a quarterback keeper up the middle with 37 seconds to go.
“It looked like he was initially stopped,” Von Rueden said. “But he kept moving his feet. He acted like he had been there before.”
With his placekicker out, Von Rueden went for a two-point conversion – and got it when running back Ramsey Davis got in the end zone off tackle to give the Patriots a 22-21 lead.
But the drama was not finished.
Centralia got the ball back near midfield, drove to the Patriots’ 20 with 8.6 seconds remaining and called upon kicker Bo Ramirez for a game-winning field goal.
But Ramirez pulled the 32-yarder left, and Washington escaped with a win.
“I don’t know if I have been through something like that,” said Von Rueden, a former offensive lineman at Puget Sound. “Probably in my last high school game, we were able to do something like that in San Jose scoring on a trick play on a two-point conversion to tie it. But we lost anyway.
“Our kids stepped up.”