The first round of the Class 2A state playoffs was business as usual for first-ranked Tumwater.
The T-Birds erupted for eight touchdowns to knock off Franklin Pierce, 55-14, on Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium.
Tumwater (11-0) advances to the quarterfinals for the 10th time in its last 13 playoff appearances with the win. It travels to the winner of W.F. West-Squalicum next week. The Storm hosts the Bearcats at 6 p.m. Saturday at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.
“It’s single elimination, so that creates a little tension,” Tumwater coach Sid Otton said. “We’re just trying to get them to focus on playing the next play and preparing hard.”
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After Griffin Shea picked off Franklin Pierce quarterback Willie Patterson on the opening drive, Tumwater punched it in on a 1-yard run by Jarid Barrett to make it 7-0 less than two minutes in.
Tumwater never trailed.
The T-Birds posted three more touchdowns in the first quarter. Spencer Dowers found Shea wide open for 24 yards on the following drive. He connected with Cade Otton, who found the end zone less than three minutes later.
Dowers was 4 of 9 passing for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Otton led the T-Birds in receiving with three catches for 79 yards and the one touchdown.
Shea cruised into the end zone untouched from 13 yards out as Tumwater closed the first quarter up 28-0.
Franklin Pierce entered Tumwater territory three times — twice for scores.
After recovering a Tumwater fumble, the Cardinals drove 86 yards, stamped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Gavyn Potteiger.
Patterson scrambled from three yards out on the following drive to make it 28-14, but that’s as close as the Cardinals would get.
“We lost to a program tonight,” Franklin Pierce coach Mickey Ahrens said. “We’re trying to build a football program. Championship football is what I call it, and it takes time to build.”
The T-Birds erased any semblance of a comeback early in the second half.
“I’m proud of how our team came back in the third quarter and kind of made a statement out there,” Otton said.
Noah Andrews returned the opening kickoff 57 yards to Franklin Pierce’s 24-yard line. Jarid Barrett scampered in from seven yards out three plays later.
And less than three minutes later, Dominic Jones capped a four-play drive by falling into the end zone from three yards out to make it 41-14.
The T-Birds added two more touchdowns on runs by Andrews (33 yards) and Trayten Rodriguez (7 yards) to cap the victory.
“They’re so tough up front,” Ahrens said. “We had a few advantages over them and we tried to take advantage of those, and that was our speed. Sometimes it went well.”
But most of the time it didn’t.
The T-Birds shut out the Cardinals in three of four quarters and forced two interceptions from Patterson. He finished 17 of 39 passing for 235 yards.
Linebacker Derek Nesbitt (neck) exited for Franklin Pierce six plays into the game. He was carted off by medics and his condition was unknown at press time.
Franklin Pierce 0 14 0 0
Tumwater 28 0 20 7
T – Jarid Barrett 1 run (Nathan Seaman kick)
T – Griffin Shea 24 pass from Spencer Dowers (Seaman kick)
T – Cade Otton 20 pass from Dowers (Seaman kick)
T – Shea 13 run (Seaman kick)
F – Gavyn Potteiger 3 run (Cameron Bowdish kick)
F – Willie Patterson 3 run (Bowdish kick)
T – Jarid Barrett 7 run (kick failed)
T – Dominic Jones 3 run (Seaman kick)
T – Noah Andrews 33 run (Seaman kick)
T – Trayten Rodriguez 7 run (Seaman kick)