Arguably the two most dynamic quarterbacks in the state went head-to-head Friday night, and the upset special found a home with Cascade coming out on top 31-28 over the home side Auburn Riverside in a round-of-32 game.
Almost single-handily guiding the Bruins to victory, Cascade quarterback Josh Smith masterminded the game-winning drive with his ability to allude rushers with his impressive athletic ability and size.
Getting his team down to the 15 yard line, it was enough to get Spencer Bowlden the 23-yard game-winning field goal opportunity in the waning seconds.
“This is one of the all-timers,” Cascade head coach Joe Cronin said following the game. “They’re in state. I couldn’t be happier for these guys. Holy cow, what a game. It’s hard to put into words.”
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Smith, who is committed to play South Alabama University next fall, finished the game with 347 total yards and three touchdowns.
“This team (Cascade) earned it,” Auburn Riverside coach Bryant Thomas said. “They played hard. They played till the end of the game. They made a play when they needed to make a play.”
Smith outdueled Auburn Riverside quarterback Kevin Thomson, who scored his team’s first touchdown on a 10-yard run.
Riverside was left still without a playoff win, while Cascade advances to play Camas next week.
Eastside Catholic 41, Lincoln 21
SAMMAMISH – Harley Kirsch threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns and Brandon Wellington rushed for 146 yards and two scores as Eastside Catholic cruised past Lincoln in the Class 3A playoffs.
Wellington, playing in place of an injured Henry Jarvis, scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give Eastside Catholic the early lead on their opening possession.
Lincoln responded with a 70-yard drive to the Crusaders’ 1-yard line. However, Marcus Johnson had the ball jarred from his grasp at the goal line and Carter Gonzalez recovered for Eastside Catholic to turn the Abes away.
Wellington and Kirsch combined to lead the Crusaders on a 98-yard scoring drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kirsch to Colin MacIlvennie to give Eastside Catholic a 14-0 lead.
“When you’re playing a good football team and playing playoff football, you can’t miss opportunities,” Lincoln coach Jon Kitna said.
Elisha Pa’Aga added a 1-yard touchdown after an interception of Lincoln quarterback Jordan Kitna to give the Crusaders a commanding 21-0 lead.
Kitna finally got Lincoln on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run but Eastside Catholic managed to add another score before the half. MacIlvennie returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lincoln 36 and Kirsch connected with Devon Arbis-Jackson for a 15-yard score to take a 28-7 lead into the break.
Kitna hooked up with Rayshaun Miller for an 80-yard touchdown to open the third quarter to get Lincoln back in the game but Eastside Catholic countered with a methodical 15-play drive capped by a 2-yard Wellington touchdown run to again take command.
Gig Harbor 56, Tahoma 14
The Tahoma Bears turned the ball over seven times in the first half to Gig Harbor Friday night at Roy Anderson Field, giving the Tides a short field on almost every drive. Turning the ball over seven times to any team isn’t a recipe for success against any team, but especially not the potent, high-speed Tides offense, which thrived off the turnovers and beat the visiting Bears 56-14.
“Unfortunately, we played our worst football tonight, and you can’t do that in the playoffs,” said Bears head coach Tony Davis.
Gig Harbor’s offense wasn’t going to let a phenomenal defensive and special teams effort go to waste, as the Tides racked up huge numbers in the first half, going up 49-0 at the break.
Bears quarterback Shane Nelson threw three picks in the first half, and the Bears lost four fumbles.
Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler hoped they could bait Nelson into some ill-advised passes.
“We really tried to take away the deep ball,” Chantler said. “They’ve got two really good wideouts, and a really good quarterback. We knew if we could stay over the top, and force them to throw underneath, we might be in positions in coverage where we can force some turnovers.”
Gig Harbor quarterback Conor Scanlan finished eight of 14 passing for 124 yards and two touchdowns, also adding 10 carries for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Reese Carslon, after missing a stretch of games with a hand injury, had five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He was happy to be back.
“It’s awesome,” Carlson said. “Just being with the guys, period, that’s all it is to me. When we finally get it going, I feel like we can do whatever we want to be successful.”
Jon Manley of The Peninsula Gateway contributed to this report