Jayshawn Jordan ran for 110 yards and Johntye Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one 45 yards for a game-sealing touchdown for the Irish.
OLYMPIA — O’Dea football players can cite numerous highlights from last year’s campaign — a 17th consecutive state-playoff appearance and the school’s 23rd Metro League title topping the list of accomplishments.
What do they remember most about 2010, though? Bookend losses to Capital. The Irish began and ended last season by losing to the Cougars of Olympia.
Thursday night, Jayshawn Jordan’s running and a stellar second-half defensive effort by the Irish made sure it wouldn’t happen again.
Jordan ran for 110 yards and sophomore quarterback Pierre LeDorze passed for a touchdown and ran for another as third-ranked O’Dea defeated Capital 28-14 in a nonleague season opener at Ingersoll Stadium.
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“We thought about (Capital) all offseason,” said O’Dea senior cornerback Johntye Jackson, who intercepted two passes, returning the second 45 yards for a game-sealing touchdown. “We definitely came into this game with a chip on our shoulder. We didn’t play our best in the first half, but we did what we needed to do in the second half to pick up the win.”
The Irish (1-0) used a ball-control offense to take a 21-14 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by LeDorze with 10 minutes, 45 seconds left.
The O’Dea defense did the rest — turning Capital (0-1) away on fourth-and-short at the Irish 37 with 4 minutes to play before Jackson’s pick ended it with 13 ticks left.
“My eyes got huge when I saw the ball leave his hand,” Jackson said. “I knew I was going to have a pretty good chance of returning it.”
Jordan, who also made an interception, had 110 yards on 18 carries.
“I was pleased with our performance in the second half,” O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said. “We didn’t finish drives, but we were able to move the football. We eliminated a lot of the mistakes we made early.”
O’Dea struck first on its opening drive, going 68 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a 2-yard plunge by Jomari Brooks with 6:40 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cougars answered by scoring on consecutive possessions midway through the second quarter, getting an 8-yard touchdown run from Kai Van Sickle and a 1-yard TD from Steven Malepeai. Van Sickle finished with 106 yards on 21 carries.
O’Dea appeared to immediately find the equalizer, but an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tatum Taylor was a nullified by a holding penalty.
Taylor returned to the end zone 3 minutes later, hauling in a 55-yard scoring strike from LeDorze with 2 seconds left in the first half, cutting the Irish deficit to 14-13.
It was certainly a different scene last year when the Cougars thumped the Irish 28-0 to kick off the new season.
O’Dea continued to improve over the regular season, winning 10 consecutive games before again falling to Capital, which needed a late fourth-down stop for a 13-12 victory in the state quarterfinals.
“We didn’t play up what happened last year with the kids,” Kohler said, “but plenty of them played in both games last year. I’m sure it was in the back of their minds.”
O’Dea faces another familiar foe next week as the Irish travel to Ferndale, a team they knocked off twice in 2010, including a 31-10 win over the Golden Eagles in the first round of the state playoffs.