MONTESANO — Miguire Isaak exploded for two runs of over 80 yards and a deep touchdown pass — and that was just in the opening minutes of Almira-Coulee-Hartline’s 60-32 State quarterfinals win over Naselle on Saturday.
The game was essentially over before Naselle really got started. Thanks to two onside kick recoveries, four touchdowns and four two-point conversions by the Warriors, the Comets trailed 32-0 before their second possession.
Isaak, the Warriors’ star quarterback, got way outside the Comets’ defense on an option play and sprinted down the sideline for the 83-yard touchdown on only the second play of the game. The Warriors pounced on the ensuing onside kick and scored again in six plays for a 16-0 lead.
A botched onside attempt by Coulee gave the Comets’ offense a chance to have a say, starting from the Coulee 35-yard line. Cole Dorman floated a fade-away throw over hard-charging pass-rushers to Antonio Nolan, who took it 24 yards down to the Warriors’ eight. Facing fourth-and-goal at the nine, Dorman hit Nolan for a diving catch at the one, but that produced a turnover on downs.
Two plays later, Isaak struck again, bursting down the sideline for a 90-yard score. Nolan read the play and came off receiver Peyton Nielsen to provide run support, but the 6’4” Nielsen followed him and made an excellent block to spring Isaak loose. The Warriors followed with an onside kick recovery, and Isaak cashed in right away with a deep ball to Hayden Loomis for a 53-yard score. A fourth straight successful two-point conversion made it 32-0 with 5:15 in the quarter.
Isaak already had 204 yards on four carries. He showed extreme patience, gliding away from pass-rushers as he read the field and waited for the hole, then sprinting through.
“His stats were mind-blowing even before today,” Comets coach Jeff Eaton said of Isaak. “He’s hard to tackle, and he put some moves on our guys and made them miss.”
Down by 32, the Comets’ offense finally got back on the field for only its second possession. As they had on their first, they started at the Coulee 35 following an onside kick that went nowhere. On fourth down, Ethan Lindstrom jumped to catch a 22-yard pass over Isaak, who was playing corner on defense. That set up Erik Lund’s five-yard touchdown run, putting the Comets on the board at 32-6 with 3:35 in the first quarter.
After another Coulee touchdown, the Comets again put together a strong drive. Dorman completed another fourth-down deep ball, hitting Josh Townsen with a 31-yarder at the eight. Lindstrom juked Isaak on his route to get wide open in the end zone, where he caught a touchdown pass.
At this point, early in the second quarter, the Comets had reached the one-yard line on all three possessions and scored on two of them, yet trailed 40-12. “We knew they were faster than us at almost every position,” Comets coach Jeff Eaton said. The Comets’ best hope for staying competitive was for Dorman to overcome the Warriors’ athletic advantage with a few big throws. He was doing so, with the help of Lindstrom’s brilliant performance, but the onside kick recoveries made an uphill climb into an impossible one. “We couldn’t get the ball,” Eaton said. “That starts to discourage guys.”
In the second quarter, the Comets lost Nolan, who injured his knee scoring on a one-yard touchdown run and had to be helped off the field.
The Warriors continued piling up big plays on their way to a 60-18 halftime lead. Peyton Nielson had a strip sack of Cole Dorman, then caught a 59-yard touchdown pass on the very next play. Hayden Loomis ran 75 yards untouched after beating the Comet defense to the outside.
A running clock shortened the second half. Dorman led a 62-yard drive to start the half, completing six of eight passes including a touchdown to Townsen. In the fourth quarter, Lund caught a pass in the flat and rumbled down-field for 46 yards before Loomis came from behind him and punched the ball loose. The ball squirted all the way to the Warriors 20, where they recovered. With their backups in, Coulee had a botched play and fumbled it right back to Naselle at the five. Lindstrom capitalized with a touchdown catch with a minute to go, capping the scoring.