LACEY – Word on the street: Marysville-Pilchuck, powerhouse running attack. Word across the street: Timberline, strong run defense.
Both teams lived up to their reputations Friday night, but big plays by the Tomahawks of the 3A Western Conference built an early lead the Blazers could not overcome in a 33-21 Marysville-Pilchuck victory in a first-round state playoff game at South Sound Stadium.
Marysville-Pilchuck (9-2) scored three touchdowns on plays of 40 or more yards, and the last one – a 42-yard scoring run by Deion Stell – blunted a Timberline second-half comeback that had the Blazers within five points.
Timberline (9-2) outscored the Tomahawks 14-7 in the second half, controlling the M-P rushing attack for the most part.
Timberline made an onside kick work on the opening kickoff, with kicker Jonathan Dowell recovering at the Marysville-Pilchuck 46. The opportunity went for naught when Kyle Nobach intercepted a goal-line pass by Timberline quarterback Chris Macneil.
Marysville-Pilchuck displayed its running prowess on the ensuing possession, an eight-play, 99-yard drive. The big play was by sophomore Austin Joyner, who broke free at his own 9 and cruised 74 yards to the Blazer 17. Two plays later, Joyner bolted untouched up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown.
Joyner wasn’t close to being finished. On the first play from scrimmage after a Blazer punt, he took off on a 73-yard scoring jaunt to push the M-P lead to 26-7 at halftime. Joyner carried nine times for 170 yards in the first half.
Asan Neil-Evergin helped the Blazers creep closer when he scooped up a fumble by Nobach and returned it to paydirt 22 yards away. Dowell’s extra point kick made it 26-14.
Stevie Cleveland’s 24-yard return of a short M-P punt set the Blazers up at the Tomahawk 28 midway through the fourth quarter. An 8-yard burst by Crump and a 6-yard gain on a screen pass to Crump again set up an 11-yard Macneil scoring pass to a wide-open Brennon Kaleiwahea. Dowell’s PAT inched the score to 26-21.
But M-P running back Stell, a solid complement to Joyner all night, stuck a knife in Blazers hearts with his 42-yard scoring sprint with 3:49 left to play.