SHORELINE – It began innocently enough, with a solid defensive play.
The King’s Knights stuffed Archbishop Murphy running back Gordon Reagan for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-one from the Wildcats’ own 41. It was the game’s first drive.
Two plays later, Laka Wilkins’ nifty 37-yard run gave King’s a quick lead.
Two quarters later, the Knights took a 49-0 advantage into the locker room at halftime of an eventual 63-14 Cascade Conference victory.
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“The defense did a great job tonight,” Wilkins said. “This was a well-earned win.”
The King’s win ran the Knights’ winning streak against the Wildcats (1-2 overall, 0-1 league) to two, after more than a decade of losses to Archbishop Murphy.
Virtually everyone got in on the action for King’s on Friday at Woolsey Stadium.
Wilkins scored two touchdowns and Chris Yand scored three on the ground in the first 24 minutes. Quarterback Kao Wilkins threw for two more — to two different receivers.
Jordan Turner had a 22-yard scoring reception, while Ryan Fransen caught one from 11 yards out with 3 seconds to play.
Oh, and with 5:28 left in the second quarter, King’s even scored on a safety when Wildcats quarterback Bailey Halpin was forced to retreat into his own end zone and fired the ball out of bounds to avoid being sacked. Halpin was called for intentional grounding, adding two more points to King’s total.
The scoreboard read 28-0 at the time.
It would get worse for Archbishop Murphy, and not just on the scoreboard.
After the game’s first series, the one on which the Wildcats were stopped on the fourth-and-one, Archbishop Murphy had 19 yards of total offense. By the half, the Wildcats had 8 total yards, while King’s had racked up 287.
As for the 63 points, King’s coach Jim Shapiro couldn’t remember the last time that happened for the Knights.
“I know we’ve been scored on that many, way too many times,” Shapiro said. “We’ve had some 40s and 50s. But it’s been a long time (for a 63-point output).”
The totals built so fast thanks to that defensive effort, including another early big play on special teams from Laka Wilkins.
The Knights (2-1, 1-0) led just 6-0 with 7:15 to go in the first quarter. The defense had forced an ATM punting situation.
But the Wildcats had difficulty with the snap, and that gave Laka Wilkins his opening as the punter tried to roll outside to get off the kick. Wilkins raised his arms and blocked the punt out of bounds at the Archbishop 4.
“I heard my coaches say ‘Go,’ ” Laka Wilkins said. “Big plays happen.”
It took just one play after the block and Yand had the first of his three TDs. King’s led it 12-0, but it already felt like more.
“We anticipated a much closer game,” Shapiro said. “So did the kids. You noticed they came out with all that fire and fervor.”
Even as the totals grew – King’s finished with 376 total yards, even with a running clock in the second half due to the Knights leading by more than 40 points. Archbishop Murphy had just 5 total yards of offense in the game’s first 25 minutes.
The Wildcats did get one big play, however. Trailing 63-0, Anfernee Gurley initially had trouble fielding the ensuing kickoff. He retreated to his own 4, then started juking around before finding a small slot. Gurley weaved his way up field, cut back and took it 96 yards for ATM’s first score.
Against the King’s backups, the Wildcats finally put together a 62-yard drive in the fourth quarter for the final score. Archbishop Murphy finished with 68 yards of offense to go with the 96-yard kickoff return.