Kings of the West: Tri-City Rush Win AWFC Crown With 36-27 Victory

PASCO, Wash.–The result might look more like the score of an outdoor 11-man game than 8-man indoor football, but it’s a testament to the competitiveness of the American West Football Championship Game Saturday night. The top-seeded Tri-City Rush hosted the #3 Idaho Horsemen inside the HAPO Center for just the second American West Bowl ever played.

The Rush controlled both ends of the ball in the first half, but special teams was the equalizer for Idaho. Tri-City led 7-0 in the first quarter when Idaho return man Ernest Jenkins returned a punt all the way to the house for the Horsemen.

Jenkins TD return

Then, in the second quarter, blocker James Hines fielded a botched kickoff try that went straight into his chest—gifting the Idaho offense the ball at the TC 1-yd line. They subsequently punched it in for six. The Rush blocked the PAT, and ultimately took a 14-13 lead into the half.

The Horsemen struck first in the third quarter, grabbing a 19-14 lead, but the Rush defense held strong on subsequent stands in the 4th quarter—including a 4th-and-goal situation in which DL Noke Tago recovered a fumbled snap. On the following drive, Rush QB Les Obie connected with WR Deshon Williams for a long pass at the Idaho 10 yd line. Williams then took it the rest of the way to the end zone–fighting off two defenders in the process.

Williams TD

Obie connected with Williams again on the two-point conversion, and the Rush reclaimed the lead 22-19 with 11:05 remaining in the fourth. The Defense came up big yet again when Idaho QB Frank Cocio was hit as he tried to throw from within his own end zone. He lost the football and it was recovered by DL Dallon Grinder for a Tri-City touchdown. The following PAT made it 29-19 with 7:47 to go in regulation.

Grinder fumble recovery

The 2019 defending AWFC Champions would not be so easily deterred, however. Idaho closed the gap mere moments later when Cocio connected with WR Jaquan Blackwell for both a TD and a two-point conversion. It was 29-27 at the 6:30 mark. The Horsemen again had the ball in Tri-City territory with just 1:02 left, but Rush LB A.J. Smiley intercepted a pass intended for Blackwell near the Rush 10-yd line.

Smiley interception

QB Les Obie would then seal the deal with a 35-yd touchdown run, and kicker Riley Brown notched another PAT with 45 seconds left in the game.

Final Score: 36-27. Tri-City ends the year with a record of 9-2, and the AWFC Trophy,

Source: 610KONA