It was Jason Day’s day Saturday afternoon at Sunset Chev Stadium.
In what was a dubbed a sloppy performance by a usually stout Bonney Lake defensive unit, Day carried his Panther teammates on his back as the senior running back found the end zone for a record eight times — a school record.
“Jason Day — he’s the man,” Bonney Lake’s offensive lineman Caleb Davis said. “Right before the game, he felt pumped and ready to go for our first playoff game.”
Day’s record-setting afternoon of eight touchdowns lifted 3A SPSL Bonney Lake to a 56-42 victory over KingCo’s Mercer Island.
Bonney Lake (8-2) will travel to play Wesco North champion Squalicum (10-0), which defeated Rainier Beach on a forfeit, in Bellingham next week in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs.
Jason Day finished with 273 yards rushing on 35 carries and set the single-game school record for rushing touchdowns in a game (7) and total touchdowns (8).
“I give all the credit to my offensive line. They showed up,” said Day, who was all smiles after scoring all of Bonney Lake’s points in the win. “Running behind No. 59 (Davis) is pretty easy. All you got to do is just run.”
The past three weeks, it’s been an uphill battle for Day and the Panthers running game as teams began loading the box in attempt to shut down the bruising runner.
This week, Bonney Lake coach Jason Silbaugh switched up his backfield by adding Adam Fahsel after switching the former receiver to become Day’s running mate. The move paid off in spades.
“That is him (Day) being a senior and wanting to carry his team to victory today,” Silbaugh said. “Teams have been stacking up on Day the last three weeks, and putting Adam back gave him some room to run today.”
After starting off with a short 3-yard run, Fahsel ripped off back-to-back runs of 19 and 14 yards, setting up the Panthers just outside the goal line on their first drive. Day finished off the drive with a one yard run.
“Adam was a really good blocker all game. He was running really hard too,” Day said. “He’s a real good addition to the backfield after having a white-out to end the year.”
The combination of Day and Fahsel (143 yards) led to a combined 416 yards on 49 carries between the Panther duo.
Mercer Island (4-6) showed that they had the fight in them to upset Bonney Lake as the Islanders used explosive plays to keep up with the Panthers scoring.
Mercer Island scored three times off the play action pass, with the first coming on a 46 yard bomb from Nikhil Nayer to Cole Miller (127 yards on seven receptions) in the first to tie the game at 7-apiece.
“It wasn’t sloppy defense, but it wasn’t what we are used to,” Silbaugh said. “We don’t give up big plays like that.”
Despite surrendering four scores of 20-plus yards or more, including the two of 40-plus yards, the Panther defense was much of its disruptive self as Bonney Lake had eight tackles for losses, with Davis coming away with five of those tackles.
“We just tried to seal up the right-side, and Jason just took it from there,” said Davis who had a crucial tackle for a loss in the fourth that set up Riley Teed’s pivotal interception.
After the pick, Day closed out Bonney Lake’s final drive diving into the end-zone on a 3-yard run, giving the senior back his eighth and final score of the game.
“I always think that. I always think that,” Day said. “Big scoring and big defense. That’s what we’re all about.”
Gig Harbor 14, Interlake 13: The Tides held on to a narrow lead over the Saints with a failed extra point kick in the 1st quarter by Interlake enough to make the difference in the game.
The Gig Harbor team was led by Martin Brazier who had 24 carries for 103 yards and scored the touchdown that put the Tides up by just barely enough to win in the low scoring game Saturday night.
Gig Harbor will play next against Kamiakin with the Braves getting the home field advantage.
Lake Stevens 42, Federal Way 10: Blake May ran for 217 yards and Conor Bardue threw for 195 yards and staked the Vikings to a 35-3 lead in the third quarter.
Federal Way got its first touchdown when Darius Bourne broke free for 58 yards in the third quarter. The Eagles’ season ended at 6-5.
Eatonville 59, Sequim 42: Allow coach George Fairhart to dial up some high-octane Cruiser offense.
Don’t let the chain saws and rugged outskirts fool you. Eatonville showed plenty of flash and dash on its way to the 2A district playoff victory over Sequim to advance to the 2A state playoffs.
Tristan Graf threw for 449 yards and four touchdowns, completing 30 of 43 passes. He also had six carries for 58 yards.
He led the Cruisers comeback near the end of the third quarter with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Anderson to take a 45-42 lead.
He then hit Ray Springer for another 29-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter before Derek Brown added an insurance TD as Eatonville ended the game on a 28-7 run.
The Cruisers will play Ellensburg in the first round of state next week.
Brooks Moeller had eight catches for 130 yards.
Staff contributed to this report