Here’s my unedited game story:
BY DOUG PACEY
Ready for the rematch?
The tenth-ranked Eagles ended Central Kitsap’s run through the Class 4A state playoffs with a 31-13 semifinal victory Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome, launching Issaquah into the state finals against rival and top-ranked Skyline.
"We know what we’re getting," Bennett said. "There aren’t a lot of secrets between the two schools. The kids have grown up together."
The two Issaquah School District high schools will face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome. It is the first time that two teams from the same school district will play for the 4A finals.
The Spartans of Sammamish got the best of Issaquah six weeks ago when the teams were ranked first and second in the 4A, thumping the Eagles, 38-0.
"We were embarrassed," Bennettt said. "But that was a long time ago."
If Issaquah (11-2) plays against the Skyline the way it did against
Central Kitsap, the Eagles have a chance at the upset.
Issaquah jumped the Cougars (9-4) from the opening kickoff and never let up.
Eagles Kicker Gavin Schumaker launched a pooch kick and teammate Kyle Hansen recovered the ball on the Central Kitsap 28-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Joey Bradley threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ross Zuhl.
"They opened up the game by getting that kickoff," Cougars coach Mark Keel said, "and we were playing from behind after that."
Issaquah got another boost when on third-and-goal at the 20, Bradley found running back Grant Gellatly on a wheel route and the junior ran untouched into the end zone, giving the Eagles a 21-7 lead with six seconds left in the second quarter.
"That’s huge right there," said Bradley, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. "It gave us such a boost going into the locker room."
Leading 24-13 in the fourth quarter, Issaquah defensive back Brennan Miller delivered the back-breaker. He intercepted quarterback Jason Simonis at the Central Kitsap 35-yard line and returned the ball to the 4. Three plays later, Bradley scored on a 1-yard sneak, giving the Eagles a 31-13 lead with 5:52 left to play.
"That interception, that might have been the play of the game," Bennett said. "They converted that crazy fourth down and scored a touchdown and got the ball back. But that interception ended it."
The "crazy fourth down" play came in the final seconds of the third quarter. Facing, fourth-and-16 at the Issaquah 37-yard line, Simonis threw a Hail Mary. The ball was tipped before coming down into the arms of receiver Allen Hewey at the 2. Running back Howie McDonald scored on the next play, but the extra point was blocked, making it 24-13.
The Cougars’ first touchdown came when the Eagles bit on a fake and Simonis fired a 49-yard touchdown to a wide open Christian Wesley in the second quarter.
Issaquah bottled up the McDonald, the Narrows League MVP, holding him to 76 yards on 18 carries. Central Kitsap was held to 193 yards of total offense.
Issaquah will play for the state championship for the first time since 1980. The Eagles lost the 4A finals to Mount Tahoma, 21-3, that year.
Skyline 24, Ferris 21: The Spartans’ survived their biggest test yet, coming from behind to win Saturday at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane.
Trailing fourth-ranked Ferris 21-17, No. 1 Skyline took the lead late in the third quarter when receiver Gine Simone caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Saxons quarterback Connor Halliday was 20 of 31 for 229 yards and was picked off three times.
Skyline (13-0) won the 3A championship last season.