The Kennewick Lions overcame some early mistakes, and thanks to a staunch defense, pulled away in the second half for a 24-7 victory over Shadle Park on Friday night at Lampson Stadium in a 3A regional playoff game.
The Lions (9-1) move on to the 3A state playoffs starting next week. Their opponent and location will be announced Sunday.
“This (win) is a big deal for these kids,” said first-year coach Randy Affholter. “We just need to keep building, relax and play the way we are capable of.”
Kennewick, which had the Mid-Columbia Conference’s No. 2 defense this season, did not allow a point against the Highlanders.
Shadle Park’s (5-5) lone touchdown came on a 70-yard interception return in the second half.
The Lions allowed just 106 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers. The Highlanders did not get a first down until the second quarter and crossed midfield just twice.
“Our defense was great tonight,” said sophomore running back Myles Mayovsky. “They pitched a shutout.”
Mayovsky was a key part in the Lions ball-control offense that methodically went down the field most of the night. He finished with 81 yards on 23 carries.
His final carry of the night was a 7-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
“We really wanted to control the football as much as we can,” Affholter said. “We did a good job of that in the second half.”
Leading just 10-7 after a dominating first half, the Lions broke through late in the third quarter on an 18-yard touchdown reception by Bronson Childs on a pass from Elijah Tanner.
The play came on a fourth-and-7 situation on Kennewick’s second possession of the third quarter. The Lions’ first drive of the second half covered 46 yards and chewed up more than 6 1/2 minutes off the clock. But the drive stalled out on the Shadle Park 16.
“We mixed in a few different formations in the second half,” Mayovsky said. “We just needed to settle down and adjust to what they were doing defensively.”
Tanner had a great second half, connecting on 6 of his 7 passes for 85 yards and the key fourth-down touchdown to Childs. He finished the game 13 of 21 passing for 199 yards.
“We know we have the potential,” Mayovsky said. “We think we can have a long playoff run.”