SPORTS: Chimacum Cowboys win third straight do-or-die football game

PORT TOWNSEND — Nobody puts these Chimacum Cowboys in a corner.

The Cowboys refuse to go away in the Class 1A Nisqually League playoff race after winning their third straight do-or-die game 48-36 Friday night over Cedar Park Christian.

With a healthy dose of gadget plays and an opportunistic defense that forced five turnovers, Chimacum moved within one win of a postseason berth.

“It feels amazing,” said Chimacum senior Devin Manix, who accounted for 133 yards of offense and two touchdowns.

“This is the first time of my high school career to even have a chance at the playoffs.

“To win that game, is the world right now.”

Now all that stands between the Cowboys (3-3 in league, 4-4 overall) and their first playoff appearance since 2005 is a game at rival Port Townsend (0-6, 0-8) next Friday. (See today’s “Prep Notes” for a playoff breakdown.)

“I can’t say enough about my team,” said Chimacum head coach Shawn Meacham, whose Cowboys have outscored opponents 118-67 since losing to Life Christian 14-13 on Oct. 1.

“To lose that heart-breaker of a game and then come back and respond with three in a row like this . . . I’ve got high-character kids.”

The Cowboys used a little bit of everything to beat the Eagles (3-3, 5-3) on Friday.

Chimacum’s balanced offense ran for 175 yards and passed for 192, with a pair of trick plays accounting for 113 of those.

That included a 54-yard reverse touchdown run from senior receiver Derek Toepper in the first quarter and a 59-yard halfback pass from Manix to quarterback Mason Moug that set up another in the second.

Moug completed 7 of 16 passes for 133 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Chimacum’s defense did its part as well, intercepting Eagles quarterback Justin Girgus four times. Three came during the second and third quarters when the Cowboys outscored the Eagles 33-8.

“Out defense played really tough,” Manix said. “The first quarter, it was just adjusting to a new team, a new offense.

“Once we get a hold on that, then we’re able to just hit those holes and fire off.”

It appeared as if the Eagles’ high-powered spread attack might just light up the scoreboard early on after putting up 62- and 85-yard touchdown drives in the first quarter to take a 14-8 lead.

Chimacum’s offense then responded with a scoring march of its own, capped by a 25-yard run from Manix to surge ahead 15-14.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Toepper picked off Girgus and returned the ball 37 yards to the Eagles 8-yard line.

Three plays later, Moug found Dylan Brown-Bishop in the end zone for an 5-yard touchdown pass.

After a pair of defensive stops, Manix and Moug brought out their gadget play on third-and-long near midfield.

Manix took a pitch right on an apparent sweep, turned the opposite direction and lofted a pass to a wide-open Moug, who ran all the way down to the Cedar Park 3-yard line before getting pushed out of bounds.

“They were flowing hard to whatever side we were running to, so we assumed we could get them on a backside [play] at some point,” Meacham said.

“We’ve pulled that out of our hat three or four times this year. I don’t know how many times we can go to that well.”

Austin McConnell ran the ball into the end zone from there for a 27-14 lead.

On the Eagles’ next possession, Victor Cienga intercepted an errant Girgus throw and took it 23 yards for a touchdown and 34-14 halftime lead.

Once Manix ran his second touchdown from 29 yards out on the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half, the Cowboys were well on their way to their third straight win.

“We worked harder and harder throughout the season, and the energy has just gone up [since the team’s 1-4 start],” Manix said.

“Meacham makes us feel crazy before games. It’s awesome.”

In addition to his big completion, Manix rushed 12 times for 63 yards, caught one ball for 11 yards and had 14 tackles and one sack on defense.

McConnell added 96 yards of offense, including three catches for 64 yards. He also had a team-high two sacks and 16 tackles.

Brown Bishop had three receptions for 58 yards.

“The kids played great,” Meacham said. “They know what’s at stake and they played like champions today. This team has got a pretty good mindset right now.”

Cedar Park Christian actually out-gained the Cowboys 528 yards to 367 on the game.

Girgus accounted for 340 of those yards through the air, completing 18 of 34 passes with four scores.

His four interceptions, however, ultimately cost Cedar Park a shot at clinching a playoff berth.

“They came out here and won the football game,” Eagles head coach Craig Shetterly said.

“A good football team will take advantage of turnovers and that’s what they did.”

Chimacum 48, CP Christian 36

CP Christian 14 0 8 14– 36

Chimacum 15 19 14 0– 48

First Quarter

CP–Girgus 40 run (Girgus run)

CH–Toepper 54 run (Manix run)

CP–Hunsaker 2 pass from Girgus (Pass failed)

CH–Manix 25 run (Brown-Bishop kick)

Second Quarter

CH–Brown-Bishop 5 pass from Moug (Pass failed)

CH–McConnell 3 run (kick no good)

CH–Cienga 23 interception return (Brown-Bishop kick)

Third Quarter

CH–Manix 29 run (Brown-Bishop kick)

CP–Donnel 52 pass from Girgus (Girgus run)

CH–Settlemire 22 run (Brown-Bishop kick)

Fourth Quarter

CP–R. O’Regan 10 pass from Girgus (Run failed)

CP–Dinsmore 2 pass from Girgus (Hunsaker pass from Girgus)

Individual Stats

Rushing– CH: Manix 12-63, Toepper 1-54, McConnell 9-32, Settlemire 7-20, Moug 3-(minus 4). CP: Dinsmore 27-116, Girgus 9-47, Rickman 3-10, Hunsaker 2-9, Daniel O’Regan 1-6.

Passing–CH: Moug 7-16-0, 133; Manix 1-1-0, 59. CP: Girgus 18-34-4, 340.

Receiving–CH: McConnell 3-64; Brown-Bishop 3-58, Manix 1-11, Moug 1-59. CP: R. Oregon 6-89, Donnel 2-79, Dinsmore 4-54, Kragerud 3-54, Long 1-47, Hunsaker 2-17.

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