Even after a slow start, the O’Dea Fighting Irish had their chances.
But in the end, the Kennewick Lions made the biggest plays down the stretch of a 27-21 Class 3A state quarterfinal victory at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Kennewick coach Randy Affholter said. “As a head coach, 27 years I think. This one ranks way up there.”
The Lions (11-1) advance to face Eastside Catholic on Saturday in a 3A semifinal. The time for that game will be announced at a later date. The time will have nothing to do with what happens next for the Kennewick team.
“Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we start getting ready for Eastside Catholic,” Lions running back Myles Mayovsky said.
BIG PLAYS IN BIG MOMENTS EARN BIG VICTORIES
Mayovsky carried the ball 28 times for 132 yards against O’Dea. It was the last nine he’ll likely remember for a while.
With Kennewick nursing a six-point lead and the clock under two minutes at 1 minutes, 47 seconds left, the Irish had just used a timeout. It was third-and-seven for the Lions at the O’Dea 35.
A stop by the Irish and the ball likely would have gone back to give O’Dea a final chance. Of course, Mayovsky got the rock.
And the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder took the ball and bulled his way, dragging three defenders for a 9-yard gain and a game-clinching first down.
“Honestly, I was just like, I’ve got to go get it,” Mayovsky said. “I’ve got to get there. I kept my feet moving and got there.”
Two kneel downs out of “victory” formation later, and Kennewick was on its way to the semifinals.
GAVE A LITTLE GIFT? REAP EVENTUAL REWARDS
There were moments when O’Dea seemed to gain an upper hand.
Even after Kennewick scored the game’s first 13 points, taking a 13-0 lead on Mayovsky’s 2-yard run with 8:01 to play in the second quarter, the Irish fought back.
And when the Lions got stopped trying to make a fourth-and-one at their own 15-yard line late in the quarter, the momentum definitely shifted – at least temporarily. Kennewick got into punt formation, but punter Simeon Howard thought he saw an opening and took off for the line of scrimmage.
Instead of a first down, Howard was stopped for a two-yard loss at the 13, where the Irish took over.
Four plays later, Jason Brown went into the end zone with a three-yard burst and O’Dea closed the gap to 13-7 heading into the halftime break. O’Dea built on that momentum coming out of the locker room, taking the first possession of the third quarter 80 yards in just four plays to grab a 14-13 lead with 9:50 left in the quarter.
UNSELFISH HELPS THE TEAM
Brown factored into all three of the O’Dea touchdowns on Saturday, but not in any usual way on the second – that second one.
After three straight runs from Brown netted 16 yards, he again was lined up in the backfield. But Brown kept fidgeting with the glove he was wearing, seemingly unable to get it to go completely onto his hand.
Even as the play clock ticked under 10 seconds, Brown suddenly raced to the sidelines. No timeout was taken. As he left the field, and with six seconds on the clock, Khalil Holiday raced on and got set.
The handoff went to Holiday, who ripped through the left side of the line and sprinted 64 yards for the go-ahead score.
Brown, who finished with 112 yards on 26 carries, scored a second TD with 9:26 to play, cutting the Kennewick advantage to 27-21. Brown did almost all of his damage after halftime, having been held to 10 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
THE GAME PLAN WORKED
Mayovsky out-dueled Brown as the game wore on. The Lions back knew what they were up against, having played 7-on-7 ball with Brown this past summer, he said.
But Kennewick believed they could run the ball against O’Dea.
“We came in, we knew we could,” Mayovsky said. “Even Monday, I told guys that we were going to run the ball tonight.”
(Feature photo by Scott Butner)