PASCO — The Tumwater Thunderbirds pulled out all the stops to fight off a Prosser squad that knocked on the door of a possible go-ahead score, not once, but three times.
Trickery – a halfback pass and a fake punt that led to touchdowns – four forced turnovers, and big offensive plays from some unusual suspects aided Tumwater’s 45-40 win over Prosser on Saturday night in the 2A state semifinals at Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium in Pasco.
For the third time in four years, the T-Birds (13-0) face Lynden (13-0) in the 2A state championship game at 10 a.m. next Saturday at the Tacoma Dome after Lynden scored 14 consecutive points to defeat Ellensburg, 21-7, in the other 2A state semifinal.
Last year, Lynden capped off an unbeaten season with a 41-7 win over Tumwater to claim its second straight title.
This also marks the third Tumwater team to be undefeated heading into a state-title game, joining the 1989 and ’90 teams. Both those teams finished with perfect seasons.
“This is their dream,” T-Birds coach Sid Otton said. “They want to finish what didn’t happen last year.”
Receiver Griffin Shea doubled his season touchdown total to six after making catches of 50, 22 and 18 yards; his 22-yarder put the T-Birds up 31-12 at halftime on Easton Trakel’s halfback pass.
Trevor Davis is better known for his tenacity on defense as an all-area and all-league outside linebacker, but you can also tip a hat to his ball-carrying efforts. Davis’ number was called in the second half with Tumwater’s core running backs – Christian Cummings, Tyrus Snow and Trakel – not feeling 100 percent. He entered the game with 111 total rushing yards on 25 carries over 12 games, but dazzled against the Mustangs with a game-high 133 yards on 10 carries and touchdown runs of 50 and 7 yards.
“We needed someone to step up,” Davis said. “We weren’t playing our best football. We needed someone to take charge, and I was called on.”
The crucial play was his 50-yard score with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left in the game that put Tumwater ahead for good at 45-33. It came shortly after Prosser had narrowed the gap to 38-33 on Cardell Jones’ 16-yard touchdown catch.
Prosser started the second half down 19 points. Then quarterback Mason Schutt went to work. The 6-foot-5 senior completed 25 of 45 passes for 399 yards, with four of his five touchdowns coming after halftime to Jones and JJ Martin. Prosser scored 14 straight points to begin the third quarter and whittled the deficit to five at 31-26, and again at 45-40 on a 7-yard TD pass to Martin with 1:09 remaining.
With Tumwater facing a fourth-down-and-long inside 30 seconds left and clinging to a 45-40 lead, it wasn’t over until Prosser was called for roughing punter Elijah Hill in the closing seconds, securing the T-Birds’ berth in next week’s state championship game.
“This feels great,” Davis said. “I remember the feeling last year. This year, we want to finish it.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org @megwochnick www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports