The top of the Greater Spokane League 4A standings is tight – as usual. After watching No. 7 Lewis and Clark stay undefeated in Thursday’s early game, the nightcap at Albi Stadium pitted the remaining two perfect squads in league play.
Gonzaga Prep not only survived, but thrived.
Connor Halonen followed last week’s statement performance with 131 rushing yards and four touchdowns and the Bullpups blasted Mead 50-18 to keep up with the Tigers.
“They played with courage, they played for one another,” Gonzaga Prep coach Dave McKenna said. “Our kids have has a little different focus (the past two weeks) and that’s what it takes.”
G-Prep (5-2, 3-0) faces Lewis and Clark (7-0, 3-0) on Oct. 26 in the final game of the GSL season.
Halonen rushed for 232 yards with five TDs in G-Prep’s 35-6 home win over Central Valley last week.
“Special kid. He’s fun to be around,” McKenna said of Halonen. “It’s contagious with his attitude. I think that’s what good leaders do. He’s starting to get the kids to really follow him. That’s important, especially a kid in his position. He has fun playing the game.”
Mead (4-3, 2-1) marched the opening drive into G-Prep territory but stalled at the 29. The Panthers sent Eli Eldridge to attempt a 46-yard field goal and the junior kicker nailed it for a 3-0 lead.
G-Prep answered with a long drive. On the 11th play, Halonen sprinted 21 yards for a 7-6 lead.
On the next possession, Mead quarterback Ryan Blair was sacked and fumbled, the ball recovered by G-Prep’s Luke Condon at the Mead 21. Five plays later, Halonen’s 1-yard keeper made it 14-3.
Mead’s punted and G-Prep took over at its 21. Halonen busted a run of 18 yards, then hit Eric Floyd on a 30-yard reception down to the Mead 14.
Five plays later, Halonen went off-tackle for a 1-yard TD and a 21-3 lead with 9:49 left in the half.
G-Prep forced a three-and-out. After runs of 18 and 4 yards by Halonen, he stepped back and found Floyd wide open on a seam route for a 43-yard touchdown and a 28-3 lead with 7 minutes to play in the first half.
Mead went 61 yards on 11 plays, ending with Blair’s 2-yard TD pass to Caleb Shawen on fourth-and-goal, to get it to 28-10.
The Panthers attempted an onside kick with just more than 2 minutes in the half, but it didn’t go 10 yards and G-Prep recovered at the Mead 41. Halonen hit Floyd for 27 yards to the 2 and Zane Melzer pounded it from there and for a 34-10 lead at intermission.
G-Prep took the first possession of the second half and sliced through the Mead defense for 75 yards on 12 plays, culminating with Jacob Parola’s 13-yard TD run and a 42-10 lead.
Another long drive resulted in Halonen’s fourth rushing touchdown and a running clock with 2:13 left in the third.
Long leg: Eldridge’s long field goal was his third of the season – but only his second-longest. He hit a 47-yarder in a 47-28 win over University on Sept. 28.
Efficient attack: Halonen finished 4-of-5 passing for 131 yards and Floyd had three catches for 100 yards. The speedy receiver found a seam when he wanted in the first half. “I had to get on (Floyd) early for missing a block, and boy, he put his helmet on,” McKenna said. “He grew up a lot tonight.”
Getting defensive: G-Prep piled up 501 yards and limited Mead’s varied offensive attack – which came in averaging 33.3 points – to 187 yards. “They rallied,” McKenna said. “People don’t respect them, I don’t think. I’m really proud of them, they played hard.”
Double duty: Parola, the point guard on G-Prep’s defending champion basketball team, rushed for 81 yards on eight carries and added an interception in the fourth quarter.