GOODING • For Gooding quarterback Wyatt Williams, Friday night was personal.
The senior signal-caller was facing off against Homedale star Lawsen Matteson, the first-team all-state quarterback from a season ago; Williams was named second-team in 2014. And in 2013 it was Homedale who beat Gooding in a matchup of the sophomore gunslingers.
So when the Senators advanced to the 3A semifinals after a thriller against South Fremont, Williams saw the game standing between him and a shot at the state title as an opportunity to show what he could do.
Williams accounted for all six Gooding touchdowns, four passing and two rushing, while the Senator defense held a prolific Trojan offense in check en route to a 43-34 win and berth in the 3A state championship game next weekend at Holt Arena.
“You can’t write a story like this,” Williams said. “This isn’t even a fairy tale right now, for me.”
In what was a back and forth tilt all night long, it was Homedale who struck first on a Matteson touchdown pass on fourth-and-six midway through the first quarter.
Williams rallied the troops, though, and through his first touchdown of the night, this one a 33-yarder to Bryson Comstock. Homedale scored twice in the second quarter two take a two touchdown lead that, for a moment, made it seem like the game might get out of hand.
But Williams ran in a sneak from the 1-yard line to narrow the margin to seven with a minute left in the half. Jed Pierson intercepted Matteson on the subsequent drive to give Gooding a shot at tying things up heading into the locker room.
And, as was the case all night, Williams came through in spectacular fashion.
With time expiring on the clock, Williams heaved the ball downfield and found Comstock all alone at the 10-yard line. The junior receiver spun back around and took it into the end zone to tie things up at intermission.
“Honestly, going into the game, it was a little personal for me. This Homedale team beat me two years ago my first year,” said Williams, who also played on defense and special teams for the first time all season. “I’m sick of losing. And tonight I came out extra focused and I just wanted to win. I wanted it more than anything.”
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter before a Shawn Pamplona touchdown grab gave Gooding the lead just six seconds into the fourth quarter. Homedale running back Josh Tolmie scored from six-yards out to give the Trojans a chance at a tie or the lead.
Taking a page out of Gooding coach Cameron Andersen’s book, Homedale went for two but failed to convert. With under five minutes remaining, it was Gooding up just 35-34.
But luckily for Andersen and co., Williams had one more trick up his sleeve.
With about a minute and a half remaining in regulation and his team still up by a single point, the senior quarterback scrambled to his left and found a running lane down the sideline. Williams cut across several Homedale defenders and found open field. Knowing what was about to happen, Williams stuck his hand in the air and began celebrating: he knew he had, for all intents and purposes, just iced the game.
“(I’m thinking) I’m walking into the end zone and going to state,” Williams said with a grin. “We were up by one. I knew if i got in right here, there’s not enough time.”
Par for the course all year, Gooding went for two and converted to make it a nine point game with just 1:27 left to play. Homedale drove all the way down to the Senator 10-yard line with little time left to play. But Gooding safety Spencer Ferguson intercepted a Matteson pass to put the final nail in the coffin on the heavyweight fight. Given that Ferguson had fought head injuries during the season, Andersen couldn’t have thought of anyone better to seal the deal for his team.
“Thank goodness it was Spencer,” said Andersen. “I’m just really happy it was him who got to make that play.”
The win sends Gooding to the 3A title game where it will facel the winner of the Emmett-Sugar-Salem game for all the marbles. It’s Andersen’s first trip to the big game as the Senators’ head coach and, with his eyes red with tears of joy, he could only smile after the commotion ended.
“We’re one step away from a goal,” Andersen said. “It’s all part of a journey. I’m just really happy that these guys can feel that state championship game.”
And for a senior like Williams, next week’s title matchup is a chance to finally play in the one contest he had only been able to dream of.
“That’s everyone’s dream right there. I can look at it this way. I can be happy now, looking back, that no matter what happens, there wasn’t one more I was trying to get to,” Williams said. “This is it.”
Gooding 43, Homedale 34
Gooding 43, Homedale 34
Homedale 7 14 7 15 — 43
Gooding 7 14 7 6 — 34
H: Collett 42 from Matteson (kick good) 6:22
G: Comstock 33 from Williams (Ogle kick good) 4:02
H: Carter 5 from Matteson (kick good) 11:17
H: Tolmie 1 run (kick good) 5:44
G: Williams 1 run (Ogle kick good) 1:01
G: Comstock 50 from Williams (Ogle kick good) 0:00
G: Pierson 33 from Williams (Ogle kick good) 8:45
H: Tolmie 4 run (kick good) 3:23
G: Pamplona 8 from Williams (Ogle kick good) 11:54
H: Tolmie 6 run (Matteson pass no good) 4:53
G: Williams 41 run (Williams run good) 1:27