Nothing seems to motivate the Bellarmine Prep football team more than the postseason.
And the Lions are going back to the Class 4A state playoffs for a sixth consecutive time, courtesy of a 38-23 over 10th-ranked Curtis in a district playoff Saturday afternoon at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
It was the first time these two schools had met in the postseason since 1967.
The Lions gave up the first touchdown, then scored the next 31 points in a matchup of No. 2 seeds from their respective leagues — Bellarmine Prep from the 4A Narrows, and Curtis from the SPSL South.
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Not surprisingly, senior Ahmad Lewis was right in the middle of the action for Bellarmine Prep. He rushed for 193 yards on 29 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and added two catches for 43 yards and another score.
His 29-yard touchdown catch on a screen play with seven seconds remaining in the first half gave the Lions (7-3) the lead for good — 14-7.
Lewis caught it in the right flat, dodged two tacklers, broke another one and just reached the pylon in the right end zone.
“I didn’t know how much time was left,” Lewis said. “I saw my right tackle get a block. I broke a couple of tackles, and had to get to the pylon.”
Lions coach Brian Jensen came in with the game plan of testing the middle of the Vikings’ defense with Lewis. It worked — of their 502 total yards, 343 came on the ground.
“Their offensive line just beat us up front — and bottom line, we got out-blocked today,” Curtis coach Chris Paulson said. “It was a little frustrating. We were one of the best run defenses around all year long. It was surprising they were able to run the football like that.”
The Lions stretched their lead to 21-7 on their second series of the second half. It opened with a 44-yard pass from Christian Moore to Brock Gagliardi — all setting up Lewis’ 1-yard scamper.
Six minutes later, Lewis busted through the left side for a 19-yard scoring run, and the Lions went up 28-7 with 1:12 to go in the third quarter.
“It is what we do — kind of our bread and butter. So we challenged them to be physical and win the line of scrimmage,” Jensen said. “(Lewis) is a powerful guy and can run between the tackles. He can get to the edge on our stretch play. He can catch the football. He can do a lot of those things, and obviously we let him do those things.”
Curtis had its own standout tailback in Donnell Diego, who really got nothing going.
He finished with 73 yards on 13 carries.
The Vikings racked up 383 total yards, but were 0 for 4 on fourth downs inside Bellarmine Prep territory.
Gage Ferguson tossed three touchdown passes to Tristan Beard. Curtis was trying to earn a round-of-16 berth for the first time since 2010.
Which is something the Lions seemingly do every season now.
They will travel to take on Moses Lake at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We talked a lot about legacy, and the shoulders they were standing on,” Jensen said. “They wanted to represent the Lions of the last few years, and that was our focus. I am proud of them for that.”
At Wilson 15, Lake Washington 12 (2OT): Alex Greenleaf booted a 22-yard field goal in the second overtime, and the Rams won it when Malik Hudson picked off Adam Long in the right flat in a wild one at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Greenleaf missed a 46-yard field goal in the first OT, and a PAT kick with four seconds remaining in regulation that would have won it earlier.
Trailing 12-6, Wilson drove 95 yards in the final 2:06.
The big play came on Alex Motonaga’s 76-yard completion to Hudson.
"We run two-minute offense every Thursday," Motonaga said. "We always get it done.
"We called a wheel route to our slot guy (Hudson), and I just threw it up there.
"My eyes got pretty big."
Even then, in the final seconds, it took Motonaga’s 7-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Ruffin to tie it.
The Kangaroos scored both touchdowns in the first quarter, but were held to 68 total yards in the second half and overtime periods.
Wilson (6-4) will play Kennewick in the first round of the state playoffs.
At Ballard 39, Central Kitsap 15: The Beavers took advantage of several mistakes by the Cougars in a 3A district game at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.
It’s the second consecutive year the Cougars have had their season end in Seattle.
Ballard broke a 7-7 tie by scoring two touchdowns after turnovers and never looked back. After the teams traded their first tBallard (8-2) scored easily on its first drive, with senior running back Antoine Patton Jr. evading several tacklers and breaking several more on a fourth-and-three to score from 28 yards out.
Central Kitsap (4-6) got its feet underneath them and forced senior quarterback Davine Tullis to throw a bad pass on the Beavers' next drive that senior cornerback Kaleb Bates picked off and returned to the Ballard 10-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Tubbs found senior wideout Kendal Yaegle on fourth-and-goal to tie it up.
But the After the teams traded touchdowns, Beavers took control after that, as sophomore defensive end Shiloh Ta'ase intercepted a Tubbs pass and ran it 72 yards to the goal line before fumbling the ball. Ballard recovered it in the end zone however to get the score. On Central Kitsap's next drive, senior cornerback Elijah Davis pounced on a bad snap that rolled into the end zone for another score. He caught a screen pass from Tullis with less than a minute left in the first half and raced 58 yards for a touchdown.
“We gave them those first 28 points on a silver platter,” head coach Mark Keel said. “Those first four touchdowns we just gave them. When we went in at halftime, the conversation was that we should be up 14-0... I think we just got demoralized after that.”
The Cougars drew closer in the third quarter by forcing another fumble from Tullis at their 10-yard line and converting it into points with a four-yard run from Yaegle, but the Beavers put it out of reach in the fourth despite committing numerous penalties that killed promising drives of their own.
Keel hopes the younger players will learn from this and be able to come back better next year.
“We have a lot of guys coming back,” he said. “Hopefully they can do what they need to do in the offseason to get better and get over the hump one of these years.”
At Olympic 70, Steilacoom 6: So much for that possibility of a letdown after winning the Olympic League 2A title.
Fresh off last week’s thrilling last-second victory over North Kitsap, Olympic pounded Steilacoom 70-6, in Saturday’s Class 2A West Central District tournament game at Silverdale Stadium.
The Trojans set a record for most points scored and largest margin of victory. Both previous marks were set in 2002 when Olympic beat Shelton 67-15.
“We knew we had to come in and play four quarters and not just one half,” said Olympic coach Sal Quitevis Jr., whose team hosts defending 2A state champion Sedro-Woolley next Saturday at 7 p.m. “This is the postseason. You’ve got to put in four good quarters.”
The Trojans scored six touchdowns in the first half half — four on offense, one on a kickoff return by Ethan Goldizen and one on fumble return by Tahj Davie — to clinch its second consecutive state tournament appearance. Olympic (10-0) lost in the first round to Ellensberg last season.
At River Ridge 55, Lindbergh 27: Defense was not on anybody’s mind in a freewheeling first half Saturday night at South Sound Stadium.
But the River Ridge defense, as much as its explosive offense, was the difference in the Hawks’ victory over Lindbergh in a Class 2A district game.
The Hawks, who led the 2A South Puget Sound League in scoring defense in their league-championship season, limited Lindbergh to one second-half touchdown.
On offense, the Hawks racked up 437 y ards on the ground and 626 total yards in the game.
River Ridge (10-0) advances to a 7 p.m. game next Saturday in their home digs against North Kitsap.