If coach Jess Nelson could have picked quicksand instead of the surface he and the Life Christian Academy Eagles were stuck playing on Friday night, he might have done it.
He might have found more traction in that.
As it was – with heavy rains dousing Grays Harbor County all week – much of the grass at Lt. Jim Davis Field gave away to thick, gooey mud, especially between the hashmarks.
That surface was just fine for host North Beach, blessed with a college-size offensive line capable of pushing an army backward. Facing a chance to clinch a share of their first league title since 1990, the third-ranked Hyaks handled the Eagles, 38-6.
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It was also an important game for Life Christian Academy, too. A win would have put the Eagles in position to be part of a three-way tie for the 2B Pacific League championship.
But North Beach put together a 10-play, 74-yard drive to score a touchdown – a 5-yard Jordan Chung run – quickly to set a powerful tone.
All of the Hyaks’ 54 plays were rushing attempts, racking up 381 yards. They eventually would take a 22-0 lead on Saul Gonzalez’s 30-yard scoring gallop down the right sideline with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
What sparked the Eagles, oddly enough, was the passing game – something that do not do with regularity. But quarterback Jack Hohimer completed a 35-yard pass to Sam Absten on fourth-and-1 late in the first half, leading to the team’s only score – a 1-yard Wyatt Dunlap touchdown run with 27.3 seconds to go to cut it to 22-6.
It was Dunlap’s 21st touchdown run of the season.
“We wanted to work on the perimeter, so we tried to establish the inside run game, but could not against their big boys,” Nelson said. “In this type of mud bowl – it has been raining for three hours – we completed more passes than I thought we would.”
In the end, what the Eagles needed was a rushing attack. They opened the second half reaching the Hyaks’ 17. But they fumbled on three of four plays, and ended up scoring no points after attempting a fake punt on fourth-and-18.
“We had to score there,” Nelson said.
Two plays later, North Beach’s Skyler Wells slipped through two tackles and rumbled 71 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hyaks a 30-6 lead.
In the second half, Life Christian rushed 17 times for 6 yards.
“It was pretty muddy,” Dunlap said. “This was definitely an advantage for them but no excuses, they played a great game.”
Hohimer completed 13 of 24 passes for 104 yards. Absten caught seven of them for 79 yards.
Gig Harbor 34, at Yelm 0: Adrian Valona rushed 34 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns, and the No. 8 Tides posted their third shutout of the season with a road win.
It all sets up the showdown for the league title next Friday at Bellarmine Prep, which lost 21-14 at Olympia on Friday.
Graham-Kapowsin 51, at Rogers 20: The No. 6 Eagles piled up 37 first-quarter points, ignited by Shannon Edwards’ 84-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, and the defending divisional champions won big at Sparks Stadium.
Edwards finished with 161 yards on eight carries.
At Spanaway Lake 21, Bethel 14: Caleb Wellons scored the game-winning score on a 13-yard touchdown run with 8:50 to go, and the Sentinels won at Art Crate Field, handing the Braves their third consecutive loss.
The Spanway Lake defense picked off Bethel quarterback Jamon Jones in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
At Central Kitsap 27, Foss 0: Kelsey Deer doomed the Falcons with his 95-yard touchdown catch, giving the Cougars a 14-0 lead at Silverdale Stadium. Central Kitsap clinched the league’s final playoff berth.
Auburn Mountainview 17, at Auburn 13: The Lions drove 65 yards in 21/2 minutes for the game-winning score —a 1-yard Bitner Wilson touchdown dive — in wrapping up a home district playoff game by clinching the league’s No. 2 seed.
Quarterback Gresch Jensen rushed for 148 yards.
The Trojans broke a 10-10 tie on Caden Borden’s 27-yard field goal with 4:16 to go.
Enumclaw 14, at Lakes 7: The Scotty Garvin-to-Jordan Misensol connection proved to be the difference as the Hornets shocked the Lancers at Harry E. Lang Stadium.
Garvin threw two touchdown passes to Misensol — the last one on a 30-yarder in the third quarter that broke a 7-7 tie. Misensol caught four passes for 157 yards.
At Orting 36, Washington 27: The Cardinals nearly blew off of their 28-7 lead, but went on a game-clinching drive in the final five minutes to stave off the Patriots.
Kody Martinez’s 31-yard touchdown run for Washington cut the Cardinals’ lead to 28-27. Orting then went 65 yards in a 4:40 span, capped by Ronnie Collins’ 11-yard scoring run with 36 seconds remaining to sew up a win.
Orting gets in the playoffs with a win next week, and a Steilacoom loss to River Ridge.
At Charles Wright Academy 32, Bellevue Christian 7: The Tarriers clinched the league’s last playoff spot, getting a stellar effort from quarterback Henry Cheney in University Place.
Cheney rushed for 60 yards and a pair of scores — both short touchdown runs to give Charles Wright a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. He also threw for 192 yards and three touchdowns.