A punishing ground game helped the seventh-ranked Blazers end the season for the Seahawks with a Class 3A round-of-32 playoff defeat.

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LACEY — Chief Sealth had the play sniffed out from the snap. Every player was zeroed in on McCarthy Tonuao.

Not one to shy away from contact, Tonuao, Timberline’s short-yardage back, lowered his head and powered forward. The senior plowed through the first pair of Seahawks who challenged him before dragging more than a handful of defenders to the 1-yard line.

On paper, it was simply an 11-yard run. Tonuao didn’t even find the end zone, coming up inches short.

But the play seemed to ignite the Blazers, who went on to a 34-16 win Friday night at South Sound Stadium in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game.

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Tonuao scored twice on short runs and Chris MacNeil hit Justace Buhl on a 56-yard touchdown pass as seventh-ranked Timberline (9-1) won its eighth consecutive game.

“McCarthy’s a spark plug. He’s just a ball of energy,” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. “He gets everyone on this team hyped up because of his play.”

MacNeil competed 10 of 16 passes for 171 yards, with Buhl hauling in four for 119 yards.

It’s the eighth time in the past 10 seasons the Blazers have advanced to the state field of 16. They’ll play the winner of Saturday’s game between Marysville-Pilchuck (7-2) and Mountain View (5-4) of Vancouver.

Chief Sealth (4-6) finished with minus-11 rushing yards in the opening half.

“There’s a reason why they’re 9-1,” Chief Sealth coach Luther Carr III said. “(Timberline’s) just a very sound football team. They’re big and quick and very physical. They put a lot of players in the box on defense and make it difficult for you.”

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