Yelm High School will remember this one as a classic.
The No. 12 seed Tornados are moving on to the Class 3A state quarterfinals after a thrilling, 15-14, win over fifth-seeded Lakes in the opening round on Friday night at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
How the Tornados got there is nothing short of a miracle.
After leading for much of the game, the Tornados (8-3) found themselves with their backs against the wall. The Lancers scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 32-yard pass from back-up quarterback Jayden Segarra to Daeshawn Wayne with less than a minute to play.
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Segarra replaced starting quarterback Liam Bladow in the fourth quarter after Bladow left with an apparent concussion.
On the very next play, Segarra spun away from defenders, rolled to his left and threw across his body to find Wayne in the back of the end zone with just 32 seconds remaining, giving the Lancers (8-3) a 14-9 lead. It was the Lancers’ first lead of the game.
But the Tornados fired back, starting with the ball at their own 37 with 31 seconds to play.
“They came out and knew what we needed to do with less than a minute,” Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo. “That’s the third time this season that we’ve actually had to do a ‘mayday situation,’ which is two-minute drill.
“Get first downs, move the chains — stop the clock. I told the quarterback and wide receivers, ‘We don’t need home runs right now. What we need is first downs.’ And they executed it. I’m excited for them.”
Wide receiver Kodee Gifford hauled in a 25-yard catch on the first play of the drive to move the ball into Lakes territory.
Then, quarterback Kyle Robinson connected with Austen Osso on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
On what was originally a blocking play for Osso, the senior changed course and streaked toward the end zone. Robinson, running to his left after not finding anything on the original play design, found Osso and tossed the 38-yard score with just 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
“I mean, play wasn’t even meant for me,” Osso said. “Kyle scrambled out and went to the opposite side, so I saw him and changed my route. Then I just went at it and had to go for everything.”
The Torandos attempted a two-point conversion, but Carson Amendt was stuffed at the goal line.
Following the score from the Tornados, the Lancers had one more chance to win the game, but Segarra’s pass fell incomplete.
Osso finished with five catches for 88 yards to go along with his last-second touchdown. Gifford added six receptions for 107 yards against the Lancers.
The Tornados first got on the board with a 27-yard field goal from senior Cody Frye at the 5:36 mark in the second quarter. Robinson tacked onto the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds left in the second quarter to take a 9-0 lead at halftime.
And Yelm’s defense kept a potent Lancers offense in check for most of the game. The Lancers came in averaging 37.8 points per game — they didn’t score their first points Friday until 40 seconds were left in the third quarter.
Wide receiver Philip Riley scored on a 40-yard pass from Bladow to make it 9-7.
As a team, the Lancers had churned out 344 yards of total offense for the game. But, three turnovers coupled with a lackluster offensive performance, ultimately proved too much to overcome.
“We didn’t bring any kind of energy to the game,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “We were lifeless, sluggish. They (Yelm) were the aggressor. We didn’t play like we were playing the last eight weeks.
“Give Yelm credit. They came out and played their game. And we didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Yelm celebrated its first win in the state playoffs since 1987 — when the Tornados ousted Monroe on the same field they played on Friday.
This is just the second time in program history the Tornados have advanced to the state playoffs, and the program has yet to make it out of the quarterfinals. Yelm travels to meet fourth-seeded Bellevue (11-0) next week.
“This win, this is No. 1,” Ronquillo said. “This is by far the best, most exciting and memorable moment that I’ve ever had.”
NO. 12 YELM
NO. 5 LAKES
Y - Cody Frye 27 field goal
Y- Kyle Robinson 1 run (kick failed)
L – Philip Riley 40 pass from Liam Bladow (Bladow kick)
L - Daeshawn Wayne 32 pass from Jayden Segarra (Francisco Ojeda kick)
Y - Austen Osso 38 pass from Robinson (run failed)
Passing: Y – Robinson 12-26-2-194. L – Bladow 17-30-2-228; Segarra 1-2-32.
Rushing: Y – Carson Amendt 19-62; Robinson 13-41-1; Derrick Platt 4-24. L – Camyron Gaulke 17-91; Donovan Nofoa-Masoe 3-20; Jaydon McMillon 1-(-8); Wayne 3-(-6); Bladow 5-(-9); Segarra 1-(-4).
Receiving: Y – Kodee Gifford 6-107; Osso 5-88; Amendt 1-(-1). L – Wayne 5-60; Riley 3-69; Gaulke 3-16; Bronson Pe’a 2-34; Rafi Mbuja 2-37.