From his 50-yard return of the opening kickoff, Lincoln's Dehonta Hayes stole the show in the Abes' 63-6 district playoff win against the Nathan Hale Raiders on Friday night at Lincoln Bowl.
The senior defensive back scored Lincoln's first touchdown on an 11-yard reception from junior quarterback Jordan Kitna, then followed it with scores on a 60-yard interception return and a 56-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Hayes best play, however, came on a run by the Raiders' Dijemi Adekanbe. Adekanbe broke through the Abes' defense on a 61-yard run, but Hayes chased him down and stripped the ball from him, forcing a fumble recovered by teammate Collin Ford.
"He was running with the ball really loose," Hayes said. "I saw the opportunity, and I saw my other players right there, so I would just dive for it and see what happens. I dove, hit the ball right out of his hands, and Collin recovered it."
Coach Jon Kitna said it was a play his team would not have made two years ago, but he's seen growth both in his team and his star safety in that time. Kitna called Hayes "explosive as heck" and the best safety in the state.
Coming off of a 430-yard offensive performance, Lincoln (10-0) will host O'Dea (9-1) next week in the first round of the state playoffs. In the past two years, Kitna's program has been knocked out in the 3A play-in round by King County powers Bellevue and Eastside Catholic. The Abes return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2003.
"We've been preparing for this type of season for us, and this is just the next step in the journey," Kitna said. "It doesn't really matter who it is."
Jordan Kitna completed 14 of 19 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns. Two of those scores went to tight end Tony Archie on his only two receptions, for 105 yards. Kitna, who had been removed from the game earlier in the second quarter, came back in to throw a touchdown to Alvin Johnson with five seconds left in the half for a 63-0 lead.
The Raiders' only score came on a seven-yard run by fullback Noah Witmer with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter. Nathan Hale finishes the season at 3-7.
Trailing much of the game, Kamiak reached the Beamer 23-yard line before the Titans’ defense held with three minutes remaining.
And Beamer put the game away by converting a third-and-16 play on Chris Fa’amalele’s 20-yard run.
Driving for the game-winning score, Lindbergh reached the Cardinals’ 2 before a sack by Brian Stewart pushed the Eagles back.
And from the Orting 16, Lindbergh tried a reverse pass, but safety Josh Ellingson read it and picked it off near the end zone to seal up the win, and Cardinals’ third consecutive trip to the state playoffs.
Trailing 13-0 with five minutes remaining, the Cardinals scored two quick touchdowns – the last on Willie Patterson’s 10-yard touchdown strike to Emmanuel Thornton with 90 seconds remaining.
But the game stayed 13-13 on the missed conversion kick.
And after Kingston took a 20-13 lead in overtime on Garrett Rouser’s 1-yard touchdown run, the Cardinals answered on another Patterson scoring pass – a 15-yarder to Tanner Bloom.
But Franklin Pierce’s season ended with the PAT kick was blocked.
And on the advice of Ken Richardson, his former assistant coach at Wilson High School, Finch changed his defense from a 3-3 stack to a bigger front used frequently to stop Wing-T offenses.
Charles Wright forced three second-half turnovers, and upended the Redhawks, who were the 1A Olympic League champions.
Tarriers quarterback Henry Cheney was sensational, throwing for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Rahsaan Mills, and rushing for 150 yards and a score.