By David Krueger Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — The highs and lows of football were felt by Marysville Pilchuck in its state playoff game against Eastside Catholic Saturday night.
The Tomahawks felt both in about a two-minute span.
Moments after Marysville Pilchuck tied the score on a late touchdown run with 56 seconds to play in the game, Eastside Catholic got a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its next drive to stun the Tomahawks 42-35 in the first round of the 3A state tournament Saturday night at Quil Ceda Stadium.
“I don’t know right now. It’s tough to process,” said Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson. “Those kids just battled all night and probably deserved to win this game.”
Austin Joyner had a 10-yard touchdown run with several Eastside Catholic defenders trying to stop him and the ensuing extra point by Ryan Spiva tied the score at 35. The touchdown capped a 14-play, 5 minute and 55 second drive for Marysville Pilchuck.
But with the rain temporarily letting up, Eastside Catholic quarterback Harley Kirsch threw a short pass to Brandon Wellington who got past the Tomahawks’ defense and ran 74 yards for a touchdown to put the Crusaders back on top.
Marysville Pilchuck, the No. 3 team in the regular season’s final Associated Press prep football poll, got the ball back with 37 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.
“Eastside Catholic is a good team and we laid it on the line for 48 minutes and came out a little bit short,” Carson said.
It was almost a year to the date since the last game between the two teams. The teams met Nov. 17th of last year in the 3A state quarterfinals with Eastside Catholic prevailing 65-34.
The 2013 version was much closer with Marysville Pilchuck hanging with Eastside Catholic the entire game. After falling behind by two touchdowns before halftime, the Tomahawks came out running right at Eastside Catholic with two touchdown runs by Deion Stell and Joyner’s second of the game.
The Marysville Pilchuck defense also made two big stands late in the fourth quarter as the offense worked down the field.
But in the end, the Crusaders made a big play in the game’s final moments and the Tomahawks, many of whom fell to the turf in shock, couldn’t recover.
“Our offensive staff did a good job getting a couple things fixed blocking-scheme wise at halftime and we were able to get some things going,” Carson said. “You play in big games like this and you can’t turn the ball over like that. But our kids battled back.”
Chris Jones had a 40-yard kick return after the first Eastside Catholic score and followed that with a 39-yard touchdown reception from Tomahawks’ quarterback Jake Luton to answer the Crusaders’ first score.
In the second quarter, Marysville Pilchuck recovered an Eastside Catholic fumble on a punt return, with Joyner taking it 47 yards to the end zone on the next play to again tie the score at 14.
But Kirsch and Wellington kept putting the Crusaders – the sixth-ranked team in 3A – out in front. Kirsch finished the game 11-of-24 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He added 51 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushes, including sacks.
Wellington was Kirsch’s main weapon. He had 25 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns and four receptions for 120 yards, including the big game-winning touchdown reception.
Marysville Pilchuck actually had more total yards of offense than the Crusaders, with a 500 to 417 advantage. Joyner had 208 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, Deion Stell had five carries — two of which were touchdowns — for 76 yards and Killian Page added 11 carries for 58 yards to cap the Tomahawks’ 334 rushing yards.
Luton, who will play at the University of Idaho next season, completed 14 of 26 passes for 166 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — one of which came on a Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game.
Eastside Catholic (9-2 overall), from the 3A Metro League, moves on to host Meadowdale in the 3A state quarterfinals next weekend at Seattle Memorial Stadium. The loss, the first of the season for Marysville Pilchuck (10-1), ends the Tomahawks’ season.
“This team’s been great. I love coaching these kids and it’s hard to say goodbye because they’re a really talented team,” Carson said. “I hoped that we were playing a little bit longer but unfortunately we’re not. They’re tough. They’re tough kids and it’s a sad deal.”
At Quil Ceda Stadium
Eastside Catholic 14 14 7 7 — 42
Marysville Pilchuck 7 7 14 7 — 35
EC–Brandon Wellington 2 run (Ian Dorney kick)
MP–Chris Jones 39 pass from Jake Luton (Ryan Spiva kick)
EC–Wellington 5 run (Dorney kick)
MP–Austin Joyner 47 run (Spiva kick)
EC–Devon Arbis-Jackson 54 pass from Harley Kirsch (Dorney kick)
EC–Kirsch 18 run (Dorney kick)
MP–Deion Stell 25 run (Spiva kick)
EC–Elisha Pa’aga 3 run (Dorney kick)
MP–Stell 37 run (Spiva kick)
MP–Joyner 10 run (Spiva kick)
EC–Wellington 74 pass from Kirsch (Dorney kick)
Records–Eastside Catholic 9-2 overall. Marysville Pilchuck 10-1.