It was no mystery to the Peninsula Seahawks’ defense where the ball was going on top-ranked Bellevue High’s opening play from scrimmage Saturday night — right into the hands of senior tailback Budda Baker, arguably the state’s most electric player.
And yet the Seahawks were almost helpless in preventing the inevitable result — a quick six points and the start of an uphill climb.
Things didn’t start well for the Seahawks, and the juggernaut that is the Wolverines ran like a finely tuned machine, pounding ninth-ranked Peninsula, 48-27, in a Class 3A state quarterfinal game at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy.
Bellevue (12-0) earned its WIAA-record 52nd consecutive victory with the win over Peninsula (8-4). The Wolverines will take on Shadle Park of Spokane, a 34-16 winner over Kamiakin of Kennewick, next week in the 3A semifinals.
Baker took a handoff around the left side on the game’s first play, made a cut across the middle and darted up the opposite sideline — shedding tacklers in his wake — for a 65-yard touchdown run.
“It was really unfortunate because we had practiced and prepared for that all week long, and unfortunately we just didn’t execute very well there,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said.
Baker knew what was coming as well, and he was prepared to do what he does best — find a hole and turn on the jets.
“I knew they had a guy that always came up (to the line),” he said. “My wing guy Max (Richmond) blocked his guy to the outside, so all I had to do was cut and take it to the house. I heard a lot of (Peninsula) players saying, ‘We knew (the play was coming).’ ”
Things didn’t get better for Peninsula. The Seahawks turned the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession, and Bellevue was back in business. It took the Wolverines four plays to score from their 45-yard line, getting a 20-yard touchdown run from Richmond.
“It’s just incredibly difficult to prepare for that team speed that they have,” Filkins said.
Peninsula’s offense sputtered again, and Bellevue got the ball right back. Four more run plays covering 54 yards, and the Wolverines were in the end zone on Mustafa Branch’s 3-yard run on the way to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
Isaiah Gilchrist’s 8-yard run early in the second quarter was Bellevue’s last offensive touchdown before the defense took center stage. Rio Morales returned a blocked punt 16 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan Gilbert and Jack Michael had interception returns for touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 28-point second quarter.
“Coach (Butch Goncharoff) said we had one of the greatest first halves of this whole year,” Baker said.
The second half was played under a running clock, and Baker (three carries, 102 yards, 1 TD) and the rest of the first-string Bellevue offense didn’t see the field.
Peninsula’s Avega Siolo scored on a 26-yard run, and Robert Kvinsland threw touchdown passes to Kyle Olson-Urbon (32 yards) and Ian Hodge (22 yards). Jack Andrews also had an 85-yard fumble return for a score for the Seahawks, whose season ended against Bellevue for the second consecutive year.
“I’m just so proud of my players,” Filkins said. “We had a tremendous season. After losing 19 starters — 25 seniors — to graduation, these guys came out and really battled hard all year long.”