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Raiders defeat Tonasket for chance at state berth


Quarterback Hunter Whitelaw looks for a receiver. - Jacob Wagner photos

The Raider football team defeated the Tigers in a nailbiter in Tonasket on Friday, securing a hometown advantage for the Raiders, who play Kittitas Friday in Coulee Dam for a crossover game, the winner of which goes on to state.

The Raiders scored first in Tonasket when running back Tony Nichols ran for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion made the score 8-0.

Nichols scored again near the end of the second quarter, running in for a touchdown. An unsuccessful 2-point attempt made the halftime score 14-0, LR.

After the half, Tonasket ran for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one-yard line. They tried to kick an extra point, but the ball bounced off the bottom bar of the goalposts, leaving the score 14-6, LR.

In the fourth quarter, a string of false-start penalties against Tonasket forced them to pass, leading Nichols to intercept a pass and giving the Raiders first-and-goal field position.

A few plays later, trying to get another touchdown, LR quarterback Hunter Whitelaw threw an interception in the end zone.

Tonasket made their way down the field, scoring a touchdown on a pass. With a failed two-point conversion attempt, the score was 14-12, LR.

The Raiders got the ball back and drove down the field, taking time off the clock in the process. On third and long, Whitelaw threw a perfect pass to Lucas Bird for a first down. Then, on fourth and 11, Whitelaw hit Bird in the end zone for a touchdown.

"It was nerve wracking," Bird said. "I knew something had to happen and I was going to be the one to do it. You have to have that mindset that you're going to be the one to do it, and you will."

With a failed two-point conversion, the Raiders were up 20-12 with just over a minute left in the game.

Tonasket was able to get down the field, and on fourth down, connected with a wide receiver who reached into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

With LR's 20-18 lead, Tonasket would need to score a two-point conversion to tie. Tonasket threw a pass, and Raider Sam Wapato knocked the ball down. The Raiders got the ball back after a failed onside-kick attempt from the Tigers, and the clock ran out.

Tony Nichols finds a way through the Tiger line with a Sam Wapato block.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Head Coach Bubba Egbert. "The kids did a hell of a job fighting through adversity. We were running the ball really good. We were conservative with things. (Hunter Whitelaw) is doing a heck of a job for a freshman quarterback."

The Raiders, ranked second in the league with a 6-2 record (just behind the 7-1 Manson Trojans), will play the 5-3 Kittitas team from the Eastern Washington Athletic Conference on Friday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. in Coulee Dam.

LR vs Tonasket

Raiders 20 Tigers 18

Passing: Whitelaw 4/9, 74 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Nichols 193 yards, 2 TD; Steinert 15 yards

Receiving: Bird 39 yards, 1 TD; Nichols 23 yards

Defense: Marchand 11 tackles, 2 TFL; Harris 6 tackles, 1 TFL; Cleveland 6 tackles; Nichols 4 tackles, INT

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