OLYMPIA – Unable to slow down Capital’s offense in the first half, Burlington-Edison was desperate to generate any kind of momentum at the start of the third quarter.
How about an onside kick?
Find some unassuming lineman in the front row, ricochet the ball off him, recover and you’re back in business.
The only problem with that scenario is the lineman the Tigers picked was Baylor Hahn.
The converted tight end is about as athletic an offensive tackle as you’ll find. And he showed that by securing the squib kick after the ball bounced off his chest, sidestepping a wave of Burlington-Edison players and racing 43 yards before being dragged to the ground as the Cougars easily knocked off the visiting Tigers, 46-19, in Class 2A state quarterfinal action Saturday at Ingersoll Stadium.
Hahn’s stepbrother Kai Van Sickle punched it in from 7 yards out on the next play.
The momentum was all Capital’s from there on out.
Van Sickle rushed for 277 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries.
Capital (10-2) advances to the state semifinals for the 10th time in school history, but for the first time in the 2A classification.
“Our line has just been playing tremendously,” said Capital coach J.D. Johnson, who also led the Cougars to the 3A state semifinals in 2008 and ’10. “We were able to control the flow of the game with our offense by running the football. The line was opening up holes. Kai wasn’t getting touched until the second level. He’s pretty tough to bring down when that happens.”
Van Sickle, who ran for 350 yards and six TDs in Capital’s 47-36 first-round victory over Lakewood, has 2,591 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns this season, placing him 230 yards off the single season state rushing mark of 2,821 set this season by Blaine’s Mario Gobbato.
Despite another impressive performance, Van Sickle seemed most excited about Hahn’s near touchdown.
“The best part of the game was easily (Hahn’s) kickoff return,” said Van Sickle, who scored on runs of 4, 16, 44, 7 and 2 yards. “I thought he was going to score. When he got to the 10, you can tell he hit the wall, though.”
It took a handful of Tigers to finally wrestle the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Hahn to the turf.
“It knocked the wind out of me,” Hahn said about the football hitting him on the kickoff. “The first 10 steps or so all I was seeing stars then all I saw was the end zone.”
While Hahn came up short, scoring was something that gave the Cougars little difficulty.
Capital held a 29-13 lead at the half, getting 193 yards on 13 carries and three scores from Van Sickle, who had four runs of 20 or more yards in the opening two quarters, including a 44-yard TD scamper which pushed the Cougars’ advantage to 22-13 midway through the second quarter.
Ryan Rieta’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 16 seconds remaining in the first half sent Capital into the intermission with the comfortable 16-point cushion.
The Tigers (8-4) had no answer for Capital’s offense during the first 24 minutes of play as the Cougars ran roughshod, chalking up 335 yards of total offense. Derrick Becker’s 76-yard completion to Tad Maiava on Capital’s first play from scrimmage set the tone, then it was a steady diet of Van Sickle from there.
A pair of field goals from Tanner Gates kept Burlington-Edison within striking distance at the break, but the gap can grow quickly when teams trade field goals for touchdowns and that’s what happen as the Cougars scored touchdowns on four of their five first-half possessions.