Mark Tafia rushes for 136 yards, Jamyn Patu adds 111 more and Connor Gregoire rushed for 110 as the Fighting Irish eliminate the Islanders 55-21 in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.
In a matchup full of offensive highlights, O’Dea totaled more in its Class 3A state football tournament opener.
Big runs from junior Mark Tafia and seniors Jamyn Patu and Connor Gregoire helped the Fighting Irish defeat Mercer Island 55-21 at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
“Hey, key word, without your linemen, running backs are nothing,” said Tafia as he was peppered with congratulatory shouts by fans and teammates. He finished with a season-high 136 rushing yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.
“Please be thankful for your linemen,” Tafia continued. “I saw the holes they created and took off.”
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O’Dea (9-1) advances to play Ferndale (10-0), which beat Bethel 35-14.
Patu got the scoring going for O’Dea with a 20-yard touchdown run with 9:52 left in the first quarter. He finished with 111 yards on 11 carries for his seventh straight game with more than 100 yards rushing.
Gregoire rushed for 110 yards and had big gaines of 36 and 53 yards.
With two touchdowns against the Islanders, Patu has also scored in his past nine games.
MI (7-4) kept O’Dea alert with its passing game. Senior quarterback Nikhil Nayar connected with junior receiver Cole Miller, who darted 71 yards for a touchdown to pull the Islanders within 10-7 with 5:34 on the clock in the first quarter.
Nayar later had a 29-yard touchdown pass to Miller in the second quarter. But packed in between the flashy passes were scores by Patu and Tafia, who followed up a 50-yard sprint with a 3-yard touchdown run to make the score 24-7.
Tafia, who missed two games this season due to a left ankle injury, also had a 49-yard scoring run late in the second quarter. Senior kicker Stephen Powell had a 31-yard field goal to close the half with O’Dea leading 41-14.
Nayar was 17 of 35 for 291 yards and three touchdown and no interceptions.
“We played well in a lot of areas, but gave up too many big plays,” O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said. “ (Nikhil) is a good quarterback and caused some problems. It was a good challenge for us.”
O’Dea scored twice in the third quarter to cue the “mercy rule” running clock with a 55-14 lead. Nayar had a 4-yard touchdown pass with 5:44 left in the game to close out the scoring.
“We’re excited to be moving on, and hopefully we play well,” Kohler said.