If the White River Hornets were going to have any chance of moving on to the Class 2A state playoffs, they were going to need halfback Keenan Fagan to carry a big load.
The six-foot, 190-pound senior was up to the task Friday night, lugging the ball 28 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns in leading the host Hornets to a 24-14 victory over North Mason in a district playoff game in Buckley.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all season,” Fagan said. “It works for us. (The) offensive line did a heck of a job.”
White River (7-3) will take on Orting, an SPSL 2A foe who the Hornets defeated earlier in the season, in the opening round of the state playoffs next weekend.
Clinging to a 17-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Fagan carried the ball six times on a seven-play, 99-yard drive, finally capping it off with a bruising, nine-yard TD run with 5 minutes, 23 seconds left in the game.
“We felt like if we came out and fed him 30 times, we’d come out victorious,” White River coach Joe Sprouse said. “(Fagan’s) a warrior. If it’s not sticking out of his leg, he’s playing. He’s a football player.”
Although North Mason (7-3) had a hard time slowing down Fagan, the Bulldogs were never completely out of it. But they couldn’t convert a 21-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, and the offense was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the White River 1-yard line with 8:53 left. A touchdown would have given them a 21-17 lead.
“We had our opportunities,” lamented North Mason coach Jeff Bevers, whose team was looking for the program’s first playoff win in 22 years.
Tommy Marsh finished with 16 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, scored on an 85-yard kick return and recovered a fumble on defense for North Mason.