The talk this week inside the Tumwater High School football program was about seeking redemption following last years unexpected 41-6 loss to Archbishop Murphy at home in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
So, when the two teams met again for the third straight year in this playoffs, this time in Friday nights 2A state quarterfinal game, players wanted to make a statement. And that statement came from the defense.
Tumwater forced three Archbishop Murphy fumbles, including scoring the final touchdown off a forced fumble, and shutout the Wildcats, 21-0, at Tumwater District Stadium.
The win sends Tumwater (11-1) to the 2A state semifinals for the second time in three seasons. The T-Birds will travel east of the Cascades next weekend to face the winner of Saturday's Othello/Prosser game.
Junior defensive tackle Korye Trejo called the defensive effort its best all season, as the team earned its second shutout.
If we came out and played the best defense we could, and the offense got rolling, we knew we had a chance to win, Trejo said. I credit the entire defense tonight. We did a great job.
Already with a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, the defense forced the Wildcats to fumble for the third time, and the defense capitalized. Nick Foerstel forced the pressure on quarterback Camden Buchanan to force the fumble, which was picked up Trejo and ran back 20 yards for the touchdown with 5 minutes, 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter that gave Tumwater the 21-0 lead.
Nick had a great pass rush on the other end, knocked the ball loose and I saw it on the ground and just went with it, Trejo said. I was excited.
That touchdown also was a special one for the defense, which set a school record for most points scored in a season (58), breaking the previous record of 56 set by the 1989 team, coach Sid Otton said.
Im really proud of that, Otton said. In the last six games, the varsity has only given them 6 points average per game and averaged scoring 4.7 per game.
The T-Birds built up a 14-0 halftime lead off a pair of Jayden Croft-to-Andrew Brown connections. Brown had touchdown receptions of 36 and 25 yards in the second quarter and also had 40 yards on 11 carries. Croft finished 5 of 8 for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Christian Cummings had 113 yards on 15 carries.
Brown also had an apparent touchdown off the Wildcats fourth punt of the first half, but the play was called back for roughing the punter on Tumwater. That led to the Wildcats best offensive drive of the first half. On the next play, Alex Galganos 39-yard run set up a first-and-10 inside the 17, but Mason Baileys 36-yard field goal attempt to close out the half was wide left.