TUMWATER – The talk was of redemption, not revenge.
That’s what the Tumwater High School football players were focused on this week, still smarting over last season’s 35-point home loss to Archbishop Murphy in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
So, when the two teams met in the playoffs for the third straight year in Friday night’s 2A state quarterfinals, players wanted to make a statement.
It came from the defense.
The Thunderbirds forced three Archbishop Murphy fumbles – scoring their final touchdown off the last one – and shut out 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 today’s Othello/Prosser game.
Junior defensive tackle Korye Trejo called the defense’s performance its best of the 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’ third fumble when Nick Foerstel pressured Archbishop Murphy quarterback Camden Buchanan and the ball came loose. Trejo scooped it up and ran it back 20 yards for a touchdown with 5 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the fourth quarter to give Tumwater a 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.
“I’m 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 completed five of eight passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Brown also had an apparent touchdown off the Wildcats’ fourth punt of the first half, but the play was called back when Tumwater was flagged for roughing the punter. That led to the Wildcats’ best drive of the first half. On the next play, Alex Galgano’s 39-yard run set up a first-and-10 inside the 17, but Mason Bailey’s 36-yard field goal attempt to close out the half was wide left.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick