For the first time in this senior class's high school careers, the Clearwater Indians are playoff game winners, with the Indians topping Hesston 35-28 on the road Friday night.
Tanner Cash scored four times for Clearwater to lead the way in what was a back and forth game before Clearwater pulled ahead in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
The big play was the theme of the game, but it didn't start that way. Both sides traded turnovers, with Cash fumbling a carry shortly after having a 64 yard touchdown run called back due to a penalty. The ensuing Hesston drive ended with an interception, then Clearwater started to milk clock.
Six and a half minutes ticked off with only one pass attempt coming from the Indian offense, then they turned to the big play, with Cash finding Taylor Currie for the deep touchdown pass to get the scoring started.
Hesston answered in the second quarter with a big play of their own, with Jacob Eilert hitting Braden Esau down the sideline to tie things at 7.
Then things got crazy. Clearwater used a wide receiver pass, with Trace Tjaden getting a handoff and finding Drake Beatty on the deep ball to give the Indians the lead. But Hesston answered with some trickeration of their own, busting out the hook and ladder with Ben Bollinger pitching the Eilert pass to Max Arnold to set up a short score, tying the game at 14. That came with 34 seconds left in the half.
With just 28 seconds to work after the return, Clearwater chose not to run out the clock, instead looking to drive the field and score. And score they did, with Cash finding a wide open Beatty after a pump fake for the long score just before half, one that would end up being the difference maker.
Hesston tied things up after halftime on an Eilert rushing score, but Clearwater put together a 14-0 run, Cash both throwing and running for a score to make it a two possession game for the first time. Hesston added a score late, but that was all they could do before Clearwater closed out the big victory.
Clearwater was part of a sweep on the night for teams in Class 3A District 6, with Andale, Cheney and Collegiate also winning. The Indians will travel to Andale a week from tonight looking for the big upset. Hesston sees their season come to an end with a 7-2 mark on the season.