No. 8-ranked Auburn Mountainview gave No. 5 Peninsula a scare, but in the end, it was too much Major Ali as the Seahawks won a thriller at Auburn Memorial Stadium, 25-20.
Down 20-19 with 3 minutes, 16 seconds to play, Peninsula engineered an 80-yard, game-winning drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown from Ali, the Seahawks’ senior power running back.
“I was thinking we’d get a field goal, to be honest,” Ali said. “I didn’t think we’d march all the way down and score, but it was nice to get it in.”
Ali finished with 150 yards on 37 carries — 102 of those coming in the second half.
“We felt like if we could drag it into the second half, we would have a great opportunity to try to win that game late,” Seahawks coach Ross Filkins said. “We put it on our line and Major was running downhill and we were able to get the run established.”
Auburn Mountainview coach Jared Gervais tipped his cap to the opponents.
“They’re a good, physical team,” Gervais said. “There’s a reason they’re ranked fifth in state and no one argues that statement. They’re a good football team. We (messed) up on a few plays and just came up on the wrong end, just barely. I’m pretty proud of the way the guys played.”
On 4th-and-8 at the Peninsula 9-yard-line, Lions’ junior quarterback Gresch Jensen found Ki’jan Weisinger in the back corner of the end zone to put the Lions up by one.
“Just them trusting each other to get open. That’s something we’ve been working on. Just trying to build that trust, that camaraderie between the receivers and quarterback,” Gervais said.
Jensen finished with 202 yards on 22 of 37 passing, but it wasn’t enough.
On the final drive, Auburn Mountainview was called for a helmet-to-helmet penalty deep in its own territory, setting up the game-winning touchdown for Ali. Peninsula senior quarterback Robert Kvinsland finished with 110 yards on 13 of 30 passing, struggling a bit in the first half, but finding his rhythm in the second. He completed five passes on the final drive, willing the Seahawks down the field for the winning score.
“Robert did a great job of settling down and making his reads there,” Filkins said.
The win all but guarantees Peninsula its third consecutive 3A SPSL title. The Seahawks move to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in league. Their final two games are against Auburn Riverside and Bonney Lake, two teams at the bottom of the standings. Auburn Mountainview falls to 6-1, 4-1.
The Lions will move on from the loss and face new 3A SPSL rival Auburn next week.
“If we can’t get fired up and excited to play Auburn for the first time in seven years, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” Gervais said.