This game turned fast.
Antonio Corea, a 5-foot-7, 190-pound senior lineman, picked up a high snap and returned it for a touchdown to put Auburn Mountainview up by eight with a minute and a half to play.
The Lions then got a fortuitous bounce to recover a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff.
What a way to secure the second trip to the Class 3A state playoffs in school history.
Those two unpredictable plays late helped Auburn Mountainview secure a 35-27 victory against Meadowdale in the district playoffs Friday at Auburn Memorial Stadium and punch its ticket to state.
Mountainview will face defending 3A champion Eastside Catholic (9-0) — which defeated Edmonds-Woodway, 49-20, on Friday — in the first round of the state playoffs at a time and date to be determined.
Against Meadowdale, Gresch Jensen returned from a concussion that forced him to sit out last week’s win over Enumclaw. The Montana commit was 26 of 33 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns.
Not to mention he played linebacker for the first time.
“The thing that sets Gresch apart that makes him a great fit for us is his physicality,” Auburn Mountainview coach Jared Gervais said. “He’s willing to do whatever it takes for this team to win the game.”
Before the Lions face the defending champs, though, Corea’s hoping for an expensive steak first.
He said it was the first thing he thought of when he scooped up that late fumble, with Meadowdale trailing 28-27. The Mavericks, who lost their starting center earlier in the game, coach Matt Leonard said, because of an injury, couldn’t get the snap to backup quarterback Maxwell Johnson.
Johnson entered that final drive for Drew Tingstad, who also left with what Leonard said were concussion-like symptoms.
But Corea was there. It was the first time he said he’s touched the ball in a varsity game.
“My first thought was that our D-line coach (Greg Wills) said that if we score a touchdown, one of us (defensive linemen) gets a steak dinner,” Corea said. “So that’s the first thing that popped into my head, ‘I’m getting a free steak!’ ”
Meadowdale took the momentum with 1:09 left in the first half when Kela Marshall, who finished with 25 carries for 133 yards, scored his third touchdown.
With the Mavericks set to get the ball after the break, AMV’s Jensen orchestrated a seven-play 79-yard touchdown drive, taking just 50 seconds to wrestle control back in favor of the Lions.
Jensen hit Ki’Jan Weisinger for a 31-yard pass down the sideline. He then hit him two plays later for a 7-yard touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the half to give Auburn Mountainview a 28-21 lead.
“(Jensen) is a sensational quarterback,” Leonard said. “Other than (Lake Stevens’ Jacob) Eason, he’s the best kid we’ve played. He made some throws where you’re like, ‘Dang.’ That’s a next-level kid making a play that’s what it is.”
Auburn Mountainview hopes to have standout safety Gavin Robertson (cracked fibula) back for next week’s game.
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