KAMIAH - The Kubs didn't start what might prove the most important game of their season very well, but as the contest wore on, KHS linemen Porter Whipple and Wyatt Wanaka made it a strong finish for Kamiah, turning a halftime deficit into a 34-22 win over rival Clearwater Valley on Friday night, Sept. 23.

"We were resilient," Kamiah coach Nels Kludt said. "We got punched in the mouth right away and it would have been easy just to pack it in and say, 'Oh, here we go again.' They stuck with it. We ran the ball really well in the second half, and played bend-not-break defense. That quarterback, Louie Fabbi, he's hard to get contained. But once we started containing a little bit, I thought we did a good job. Our kids played tough, and I couldn't be more proud."

The contest was fraught with implications for the Whitepine League standings, as both teams have beaten the WPL's 2021 runner-up, Lapwai, already this fall.

The Kubs ended up with 358 rushing yards, but at the outset, it looked like the Rams might run them off the field.

CV needed only five plays to score the game's first points, with Tiago Pickering and Anthony Carter rushing for bruising yardage and Louie Fabbi trotting around the end for a touchdown less than two minutes into the contest. Bass Myers added a run for the conversion, and the Rams nearly doubled their early lead later in the first quarter.

CV's defense stuffed four straight Kamiah run plays to force a turnover on downs barely more than three minutes into the first. Taking over near midfield, the Rams advanced on a scramble by Fabbi as well as designed runs by Carter, Pickering and Myers; they converted fourth-and-short at the Kubs' 35, then notched two quick first downs to reach the Kamiah 16. But after a allowing a short gain on first down from there, the Kubs successfully covered two pass plays to force fourth-and-long from the 15. CV nearly scored on a halfback pass from Myers to Fabbi, who was open in the left front corner of the end zone but couldn't quite secure the catch.

Even after that big break, the Kubs were still in danger of falling farther behind after the CV defense forced a punt. Kamiah's William Millage booted it out past midfield, which was enough to give the KHS defense a chance to turn back the Rams' early surge. One tackle in the backfield by Wanaka led to a third-and-long sack by Whipple, which pushed the Rams to punt it. Fabbi's boot settled at the KHS 13, where the Kubs took over for the second play in the second quarter.

Kamiah then ripped three straight runs for first downs, then converted third-and-four on a run by Colton Sams. Sams and Connor Weddle then took it across midfield with runs that set up first-and-10 at the Kamiah 40. One more run by quarterback David Kludt, two by Weddle and another by Sams set up a pass play that sprung Kaden Degroot open for a 22-yard strike from Kludt, which cut CV's lead to 8-6 with 7:08 remaining in the first half.

Clearwater Valley punted again after tackles in the backfield by Whipple and Wanaka, but the Kubs fumbled the ball back to the Rams with about four minutes left in the second quarter.

The turnover led to CV's second score of the night, which saw Fabbi hand to Carter for a five-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds left in the half.

Kamiah's Everett Oatman returned the ensuing kickoff into Rams territory and a pass to Degroot made it first-and-10 from the 20 with 17 seconds still on the clock. But three quick passes all fell incomplete, and the Rams carried their lead, 14-6, into the third quarter.

The Kubs' first drive during the third quarter spanned seven plays and 53 yards, with most of that ground covered on one big play: a fourth down screen pass from Kludt to Oatman, who jetted 38 yards into the end zone. Colton Ocain converted the point-after try, tying the game at 14-14 with 9:45 left in the third.

Clearwater Valley countered with a signature drive: after converting a third-and-short with a run by Carter across midfield, CV notched two more first downs, then scored on a short run by Carter. The conversion pass from Fabbi to Carson Schilling made it 22-14 with about six minutes left in the third.

Kamiah answered with an 11-play series that marched from the Kubs 27 to the Rams end zone, the last two yards of which Weddle skipped past a would-be tackler near the goal line. An incomplete conversion pass left the Rams in the lead, 22-20, with 1:45 left in the third.

The Rams had to punt again early in the fourth, after Whipple and Sams corralled a scrambling Fabbi near the line of scrimmage on third-and-12.

Taking over at their own 18 with 11 minutes left in the game, the Kamiah boys broke a big run for Weddle, who zipped down the home sideline from his own 35 to the Rams 10. Sams carried the next handoff down to the three, and Kludt pushed it across on third-and-goal from four yards away. Kludt then threw to Degroot for a 28-22 Kubs lead with nine minutes to go.

CV's next series ended with an interception by Kludt, whose coverage benefitted from the line's pressure and containment of Fabbi, who was sacked by Millage on the previous play.

The Kubs capitalized with another score by Kludt, who shot straight down the middle of the field practically untouched for an 18-yard touchdown run with 4:04 left.

After Whipple booked another sack during the Rams' ensuing series, the Kubs took over for a clinching drive when Whipple pressured Fabbi into an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Next, Kamiah visits Prairie and Clearwater Valley hosts Genesee, with both kickoffs at 7 p.m. Sept. 30.