Kamiakin back in semis after tripping Kennewick 22-14
By Kevin Anthony, Tri-City Herald
KENNEWICK -- On offense, on defense -- there might be a whisker's difference between the Kamiakin Braves and Kennewick Lions.
On special teams, though, there is a vast gulf. At least there was Saturday.
Two blocked punts and a fumbled return led to a Braves' scoring burst late in the first half, and another muffed punt return opened the door to a clinching score in Kamiakin's 22-14 win over the Lions in a 3A state quarterfinal at Lampson Stadium.
Zach Umemoto ran for 118 yards on 30 tough carries for Kamiakin, and Drew Oord scored a pair of touchdowns, including an 8-yard return of his own punt block.
That play proved a key turning point in the game.
"It's a game of momentum," said Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin, who has guided the Braves to back-to-back semifinal appearances in his three years.
Kamiakin (12-0) will face a familiar foe next Saturday back at Lampson when unbeaten and top-ranked Bellevue (12-0) comes to town (time TBD). The Wolverines have won eight of the last 10 3A state titles and three in a row, including last year's 38-0 rout of Kamiakin in the championship game.
"Everybody's excited," said Oord, a starter on last year's team. "We knew we have to practice hard this week to get ready for them. But for now, we want to redeem ourselves and show that we belong with them."
It was no surprise that points were at a premium with two dominating defenses on the field, and it was Kennewick (10-2) that struck first.
After threatening on their first drive but coming up empty from inside the 10, the Lions hit the big plays late in the first quarter.
Grant Woods, who broke off a 47-yard run on the first drive, bounced outside for 46 more to move Kennewick to the 26. From there, Brock Schuh went up strong to win a jump ball at the goal line for a 26-yard scoring pass from Bryce Leavitt and a 7-0 lead.
After Kamiakin stalled at midfield on its next possession, the Braves forced a three-and-out, thanks to a sack and another stop from Kevin Graeger.
Devven Ramos was back near the Lions' 10 to punt, but Oord crashed through the middle and stuffed the kick. The ball took a lollipop hop right into Oord's arms, and it was an easy score.
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