TUMWATER – Like many opposing teams have learned this season after playing the Tumwater Thunderbirds, Andrew Brown is dangerous.
How dangerous? Ask the Hockinson Hawks, the most recent victim of Brown’s talent.
The senior halfback ran for 142 yards on nine carries and scored three touchdowns, including his sixth special-teams TD of the season on an 80-yard punt return, as the T-Birds’ overwhelmed the Hawks, 45-7, in a Class 2A District IV playoff game Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium.
The win sends Tumwater (9-1 overall) to the state playoffs for the third year in a row, where the Thunderbirds will host Steilacoom, a 38-15 winner over North Kitsap, at 7 p.m. next Friday.
All of Brown’s production came in the first half, as many Tumwater starters did not play after building a 38-0 halftime lead. Brown had touchdown runs of 13 and 7 yards, as well as the long punt return with 21 seconds remaining in the first half.
Quarterback Jayden Croft (6-yard run) and fullback Christian Cummings (17-yard run) had Tumwater’s other first-half scores.
For Brown, it was his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season; his other two special-teams touchdowns came on kick returns. He gave credit to his teammates’ down-field blocking.
“We work so much on it for special teams and everything,” Brown said. “We make that a big priority.
When Hunter Moore’s 9-yard touchdown came with 8 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter, the running-clock rule went into effect.
Hockinson (6-4) scored late on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jess Krahn to Hayden Stults.
The Tumwater defense made its mark with two fumble recoveries and an interception. It also picked up a safety in the closing seconds of the first quarter, when Hockinson was stacked up inside its own half-yard line.
Tumwater is now winner of nine consecutive games, and coach Sid Otton said his team has turned around 180 degrees since its 42-21 season-opening loss to 3A Shelton.
“People didn’t expect us to be here, did they?” Otton said. “They turned it around pretty big. The team learned how to win close ones and learned how to get somebody on the ropes.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports