If there’s one thing that’s been utterly consistent for the Ellensburg High School football team two games in, it’s the Bulldogs rushing defense that’s allowed a mere 72 yards.

But facing a 4A Eastmont High School who emphasizes its rushing attack — accumulating 561 total in its first two games — the task became tougher for Ellensburg.

Eastmont rushed for 215 yards on 38 carries (5.7 yards per carry) and routed the Bulldogs 42-13 Friday night at Andreotti Field.

Eastmont (3-0) used multiple variations of the Wing T formation and a variety of tailbacks to run the ball. Carson Talley led Eastmont with 90 yards on 15 carries with two scores.

“They change it up every time and we’d get a stop — second-and-9 — next thing you know, it’s first-and-10,” Ellensburg head coach Jeff Zenisek said. “Just missed tackles, a lot of missed tackles. We got to go back and establish our tackling game.”

Ellensburg (0-3) only trailed 21-13 at the half. It burned nine minutes off the clock on a 17-play drive for 76 yards that was capped off by a 7-yard run from Brenden Swanson with under two minutes remaining in the half.

Zenisek felt his Bulldogs had the momentum, but it quickly was taken away after Eastmont took a 28-13 lead after quarterback Carson Everhart connected with Austin Popoff for a 28-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half.

Both teams exchanged punts and on the very first play of the offensive series for the Bulldogs, the ball was snapped awkwardly and Ryan Ferguson attempted to pitch it, but an Eastmont defender jumped in front and picked it off for an 18-yard touchdown to extend the lead, 35-13, with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter.

From there, the Bulldogs couldn’t muster any offensive rhythm, even with forcing two turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Ellensburg had 143 yards of offense in the first half. It finished the game with 152. Only nine yards total in the final two quarters.

Ferguson finished 7-of-12 for 47 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and two fumbles. The senior quarterback only completed one pass in the second half. Zenisek confirmed he was dealing with an ankle injury.

“Quarterback had a bad day, ” Zenisek said. “… He hurt his ankle, and maybe that was on his mind. We got to play, you got to play through pain. … He played well, he was just hobbling around a little bit.”

Ellensburg lacked offensive explosiveness. But the one time it did, it took advantage which led to the Bulldogs’ first score. Dion Hardeman flitted his way to Eastmont’s 30 for a 41-yard gain. Ferguson later found tight end Bryce Messner for a 12-yard touchdown to even the game, 7-7, late in the first quarter.

“I’m waiting for this offense to explode,” Zenisek said. “It’s about time, but it’s a little thing here and there. We got some weapons. We got Dion and we got Swanson and you know, Hank (Henry Rinehart), you saw him run today. He can pound it out and stuff for us.”

Ellensburg will now commence conference play heading to Ephrata High School for a 7 p.m. kick off next Friday.

“Now it’s time. Preseason is over,” Zenisek said. “We got to get going.”

Hardeman led Ellensburg with 59 yards on eight carries. Rinehart tallied 54 yards on 16 carries.


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