Timberline High School has turned in some impressive defensive performances during its run to back-to-back Class 3A South Sound Conference championships the last two years.
The Blazers’ second half against Capital on Friday night in Lacey, however, maybe their best.
In a pivotal game for both squads, Timberline (5-2) put the defensive clamps down on the visiting Cougars (5-2) in the second half, holding Capital to negative-17 total yards on 19 plays, and turned a tie game at the intermission into a convincing 34-14 win at South Sound Stadium.
“At the half we told our defense to go out there and impose their will,” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said.
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Mullen’s defensive players more than delivered on his request.
The Cougars could find no wiggle room on offense in the second half, going three-and-out on their first four possessions, with their only first down coming via penalty.
Capital ran the ball 13 times in the second half, and eight of those plays went for losses. Jamin Fa’alogo and Elijah Conley both had sacks on Cougars quarterback Grant Erickson, who saw all six of his pass attempts in the second half fall incomplete.
“This game was won by both sides of our line,” Mullen said. “I thought the linemen played great tonight.”
The Blazers opened up plenty of running lanes for senior quarterback Hunter Campau, who ran for touchdowns of 5, 1 and 8 yards.
Campau finished with 161 rushing yards on 28 carries, and threw a 24-yard scoring strike to J.J. Graham in the fourth quarter to continue a convincing push for 3A SSC MVP. Timberline also got 62 yards on 10 carries from Jaden Gorman.
The victory, coupled with seventh-ranked Peninsula’s 42-21 loss to Yelm further southeast in Thurston County, gives the Blazers new life in their quest for a third consecutive league championship.
Timberline, which suffered its first on-the-field league loss in three years to Peninsula earlier in the season, plays crosstown rival North Thurston next week before closing out the regular season at Yelm. Should the Blazers win both games, they would capture at least a share of the 3A SSC title.
The game got off to a dreadful start for the Cougars as they fumbled the opening kickoff, which was scooped up by Timberline’s Noah Cunningham, who proceeded to return it 15 yards for a touchdown a mere 13 seconds into the contest.
Capital quickly settled down to score the game’s next 14 points with both touchdowns courtesy of senior standout Chris Penner, who found the end zone on an 11-yard run before hauling in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to give Capital a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Timberline would score the next 27 points with Campau scrambling his way to another big night on the ground. Campau tied the game at 14-14 on his first touchdown of the game with four minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Blazers opened the second half with an eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive, which was highlighted by a 33-yard run by Campau, who connected on both of his pass attempts in the second half. The second came on Graham’s touchdown with more than seven minutes remaining in the game.
T – Noah Cunningham 15 fumble return (Mason Joubert kick)
C – Chris Penner 11 run (Penner kick)
C – Penner 16 pass from Grant Erickson (Penner kick)
T – Hunter Campau 5 run (Joubert kick)
T – Campau 1 run (Joubert kick)
T – Campau 8 run (pass failed)
T – J.J. Graham 24 pass from Campau (Joubert kick)
Passing: C – Erickson 4-15-0-73. T – Campau 5-10-1-59.
Rushing: C – Eric Jackson 4-26; Erickson 11-20; Clayton Grady 8-14; Chris Penner 3-9; Trevon Moore 2-(-4). T – Campau 28-161; Jaden Gorman 10-62; Jamin Fa’alogo 4-23; Trevor Joubert 1-1, Cunningham 2-(-1).
Receiving: C – Grady Lindekugel 1-36; Carson Collard 1-18; Penner 1-16; Grady 1-3. T – Graham 2-33; Max Aunese 2-25; Trevor Joubert 1-1.