Enumclaw High School shut the door on Kennedy Catholic with less than a minute remaining Saturday night in a Class 4A NPSL Mountain tilt that yielded 15 touchdowns.
Moments after the Lancers failed to complete a two-point conversion try that would have given them a lead with 43 seconds to play, Enumclaw’s Anthony Russell snatched an onside kick attempt out of the air and trucked down the sideline for a 48-yard score.
Quarterback Kellan Kranc hit Ethan Eilertson on the ensuing two-point try, giving the Hornets a nine-point advantage with 40 seconds left, and Enumclaw (5-0) held on as time expired on Kennedy’s final drive for a 57-48 win at Highline Memorial Stadium.
“The feel of the game was, whoever had the ball last was going to win,” Enumclaw coach Mark Gunderson said.
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Down by as many as three touchdowns in the second half, the Lancers (3-2) rallied late, finding the end zone three times in the final period.
Jahvius Leui punched in a 2-yard score — his final of three touchdowns in the game — with 43 seconds remaining to cut Enumclaw’s lead to a point, and the Lancers elected to go for the two-point try and a lead instead of settling for a tying PAT attempt that likely would have sent the game into overtime.
Gunderson said he was surprised by the call, but Enumclaw’s sideline erupted when Kennedy quarterback Sam Huard’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
“I thought about burning a timeout right there,” Gunderson said. “But I was like, ‘There’s 45 seconds left. We could move the ball right down on them.’ It was a pretty good result in our favor there at the end.”
Russell’s touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, and the successful conversion, sealed the win. The clock expired as Kennedy tried to produce a quick score on its final drive, suddenly trailing by two possessions.
Gunderson was right to anticipate this contest — which lasted more than three hours and saw the two programs combine for 1,171 yards of offense — would be decided in the final seconds. The fourth quarter alone included five touchdowns.
And Gunderson knew coming in how explosive the Lancers’ offense was, led by Huard, who is leading the state in passing for the second consecutive season as a sophomore.
“I wanted to limit them,” he said. “I knew we weren’t going to stop them. (Huard) is too good for us to stop them. We wanted to mix coverage looks. We wanted to mix pressure.
“They did a good job protecting him. He sat back there and was able to pick some things apart. He’s a heck of a player.”
Kennedy took an early two possession lead on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Jahvius Leui and a 54-yard connection between Huard and Jabez Tinae.
Huard finished 26 of 48 passing for 529 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked twice and had three interceptions in the first half.
Tinae led all receivers with 223 yards on 10 catches and scored three total touchdowns. Junior Alexander added 156 yards on seven receptions, and Justin Baker had five catches for 119 yards and a score.
“We came up with a good scheme,” Gunderson said. “I think the kids executed it well and believed in it.”
The Lancers’ defense appeared in control until midway through the second quarter, keeping the Hornets off the board by sacking Kranc twice, forcing three punts and stripping the ball from an Enumclaw receiver at their own 5-yard line.
But, Matthew Dion finally broke through for the Hornets for a 14-yard score with 5:34 remaining in the half, and that opened the floodgates.
Jackson McCann scored on his first touch, rushing for a 35-yard score to give Enumclaw its first lead at 14-13 less than a minute later.
Kennedy answered immediately on a 79-yard touchdown pass from Huard to Baker, but McCann scored twice more on runs of 46 and 15 yards to give the Hornets a 28-21 advantage at the break.
Each of McCann’s first three carries — he finished with six carries for 110 yards to lead all rushers — resulted in touchdowns.
“The line found it,” he said. “They found their assignments and got it done. They opened the holes for us. It was a great second half for them, and late first half.”
Enumclaw scored two more uncontested touchdowns to open the third quarter on a 31-yard pass from Kranc to Bryson Engebretsen and a 4-yard Nicholas Harberts run.
Harberts finished with 100 yards on 16 carries, and his score with 4:32 left in the third gave the Hornets a three-touchdown lead.
But, Kennedy fired back. Tinae scored twice — on a 22-yard pass from Huard and a 15-yard rush out of a direct snap — and a 4-yard run by Leui to tie the game at 42-42 with 6:28 to go in the fourth.
Kameron McKee punched in a 6-yard score on Enumclaw’s next drive to take the lead back.
Leui’s third touchdown and the failed two-point try to take the late lead came on the ensuing drive.
KC – Jahvius Leui 1 run (Michael Snyder kick)
KC – Jabez Tinae 54 pass from Sam Huard (kick failed)
E – Matthew Dion 14 run (Fulton Gunderson kick)
E – Jackson McCann 35 run (Gunderson kick)
KC – Justin Baker 79 pass from Huard (Zane Thornton pass from Huard)
E – McCann 46 run (Gunderson kick)
E – McCann 15 run (Gunderson kick)
E – Bryson Engebretsen 31 pass from Kellen Kranc (Gunderson kick)
E – Nicholas Harberts 4 run (Gunderson kick)
KC – Tinae 22 pass from Huard (Snyder kick)
KC – Tinae 15 run (Snyder kick)
KC – Leui 4 run (Snyder kick)
E – Kameron McKee 6 run (Gunderson)
KC – Leui 2 run (pass failed)
E – Anthony Russell 48 kick return (Ethan Eilertson pass from Kranc)
Passing: E – Kranc 9-16-1-128. KC – Huard 26-48-3-529.
Rushing: E – McCann 6-110; Harberts 16-100; McKee 10-78; Dion 9-48; Trevor Chase 2-45; Darrion Smith 3-14; Kranc 2-(-20). KC – Zaire Lozolo 11-69; Leui 9-56; Tinae 1-15; Baker 1-9; Huard 7-(-10).
Receiving: E – Bryson Engebretsen 6-89; Eilertson 2-36; McCann 1-3. KC – Tinae 10-223; Junior Alexander 7-156; Baker 5-119; Cal Sample 1-12; Thornton 1-11; Lozolo 1-6; Leui 1-2.