It looked like Tre’Shaun Harrison was playing flag football.
The moves, the speed, the burst, the creativity – it was something Lincoln High School football coach Masaki Matsumoto said he had never before seen in his coaching career.
“He’s the best I’ve seen,” Matsumoto said. “Hats off to him. We couldn’t stop him, in every aspect. We could not stop him.”
The University of Oregon commit made Lincoln Bowl his personal playground, catching eight passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He had a pick-six called back on one of Garfield’s litany of penalties, and a kick return that he would have scored on had his foot not barely touched out of bounds line at the Lincoln 16.
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And the sixth-ranked Abes sustained it all until Garfield ended it on Leo Cunningham’s game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to win 44-41, ending Lincoln’s season in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.
“Before he even kicked it, I told him he’s got this and he was going to take us to the second round,” Harrison said. “And that’s what he did. He believed in himself, we believed in him as a team and he made it happen.”
This Tacoma-Seattle rivalry had historically been about basketball. They had never before met in the state football playoffs and this was Garfield’s first trip to state since 1979 – and Saturday it got its first state win since 1977.
But it’s never had anyone make plays like Harrison did on Saturday.
He finished with 442 all-purpose yards and scored touchdowns of 46, 80, 45 and 73 yards, the last being the most scintillating.
Harrison caught a pass near the left hash and looked like he was going to be tackled for a two-yard gain. But he dodged one tackler, spun backward to avoid another one and suddenly he was four yards into the backfield at Garfield’s 23 running toward the opposite sideline.
He then burst through a crease between three more Lincoln defenders and he was gone, putting 10 yards between himself and the next closest defensive player by the time he was in the end zone.
Asked how this game compared to some of the best he’s had in his life…
“Probably top three,” Harrison said. “I had a nice game similar to this in little league but it didn’t really matter. But this is where it really counts – my senior year, trying to get a state ring.”
“They call him Superman for a reason,” said Garfield coach Joey Thomas, a former Kennedy Catholic standout who went on to play at UW and Montana State before being drafted in the third round by the Green Bay Packers in 2004. “You can’t coach that.
“We’re watching something special and it might be a while before we see another guy who does things like that. People will be saying who the best receiver is, but at the end of the day, I’m happy that guy’s on my team.”
This is the most dangerous 5-5 team in the state. Garfield’s losses have come against No. 1 (2A) Archbishop Murphy, No. 1 (3A) Bellevue, No. 2 (3A) Eastside Catholic, No. 10 (3A) Rainier Beach and No. 4 (3A) O’Dea.
Yet, Lincoln (9-2) always found a way to respond.
No, the Abes didn’t have an Oregon commit, or a sophomore like Garfield’s Sav’ell Smalls who already boasts offers from Alabama, Oregon, UW, UCLA and USC to name a few, or a reigning TNT All-Area first-team all-purpose player like Jovan McConico, who was at Kent-Meridian last year.
But the Abes made this a thriller. They scored two touchdowns in a span of 17 seconds when Teshawn Seu tied the game at 21-21 with five seconds remaining in the first half, and Tristian Kwon opened the second half with a 91-yard kick return for a touchdown to make it 28-21.
Harrison answered with a 45-yard TD catch to tie it up heading into what would be a wild fourth quarter.
After Harrison’s 73-yard playground TD, Lincoln’s Jaylen Antoine was intercepted by Rey Sekona, who returned it deep into Lincoln territory. Only it was called back by a defensive holding penalty – the third Garfield interception called back by a penalty.
Garfield finished with 15 penalties for 175 yards.
“A lot of phantom calls by the same ref,” Thomas said. “I will be reporting this.”
Lincoln followed three plays later with Kwon running nine yards for a TD, but the extra point was blocked so Garfield led 35-34 with 6:40 to play.
So Harrison followed with a 58-yard kick return before McConico ran for a nine-yard score, only Cunningham missed the extra point to keep it to a seven-point lead.
As Lincoln has done all season, it rotated sophomore quarterback Caden Filer in for its final possession and he gashed Garfield with read-option runs, getting Lincoln to the 4 before Austin Moeung punched it in for the game-tying score with 1:55 to play
“This senior class is special. We don’t have all the (NCAA) Division I kids or guys with bunches of offers, but just as a collective group they are good players and just great kids,” Matsumoto said. “And our kids hadn’t really been tested this year. I thought for them not having that experience, they did a great job.”
Garfield began its final drive at its own 45 before a holding penalty on Lincoln, a 10-yard pass to Harrison and a spike with one second remaining gave Cunningham the chance to win it in regulation.
And he stunned the 3A Pierce County League champions. A Metro League team has ended four of Lincoln’s five state playoff trips in school history, with this being the Abes’ fourth consecutive year reaching state.
“Woulda, shoulda, coulda,” said Kwon, the 3A PCL MVP who had 27 carries for 84 yards and three TDs, including the kick-return, on Saturday.
“I thought this year really could’ve been our year and I thought last year could have really been our year. Then freshman year (when former NFL quarterback and Lincoln alum Jon Kitna was the Abes’ coach) we had D1 athletes all over the place. It’s always been just like one thing for us.”
Tears were flowing as Lincoln’s players gave emotional season-ending speeches during their final postgame huddle.
“This year, our brotherhood was stronger than any other team,” Kwon said. “If you talk about brotherhood and closeness, I think we can beat anybody.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 6 LINCOLN
L – Jaylen Antoine 7 run (Gabriel Foster kick)
G – Tre’Shaun Harrison 46 pass from Javon Tade (Leo Cunningham kick)
G – Harrison 80 pass from Tade (Cunningham kick)
L – Tristian Kwon 3 run (Foster kick)
G – Jovan McConico 68 pass from Tade (Cunningham kick)
L – Teshawn Seu 1 run (Foster kick)
L – Kwon 91 kick return (Foster kick)
G – Harrison 45 pass from Tade (Cunningham kick)
G – Harrison 73 pass from Tade (Cunningham kick)
L – Kwon 9 run (kick blocked)
G – McConico 9 run (kick failed)
L – Austin Moeung 4 run (Foster kick)
G – Cunningham 32 field goal
RUSHING – Garfield: Tre’Shaun Harrison 7-34; Hibbert Rashad 8-22; Jovan McConico 2-4. Lincoln: Tristian Kwon 27-84; Caden Filer 10-77; Austin Moeung 9-41; Jaylen Antone 8-21; Teshawn Seu 1-1.
PASSING – Garfield: Javon Tade 19-30-0-457. Lincoln: Caden Filer 6-16-2-110; Jaylen Antoine 8-12-1-59.
RECEIVING – Garfield: Tre’Shaun Harrison 8-286; Jovan McConico 4-79; Mekhi Metcalf 2-51; A’Skhari Davis 2-26; Hibbert Rashad 1-7. Lincoln: Myke Campbell 2-80; Julien Simon 4-55; Jasiah Snow 2-18; Tristian Kwon 2-9; Airemus Kinlow 1-8.