By Kevin Brown Herald Writer
EVERETT — The only thing that stopped the Roosevelt Roughriders’ running game Friday night was the clock.
Roosevelt scored on five of its seven possessions — with the other two stalling only because the clock ran out at the end of each half — as it defeated the Jackson Timberwolves 42-28 Friday night in a first-round Class 4A state football playoff game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The loss marked the end of the season for Jackson (9-2) and dropped the Timberwolves to 0-4 in state playoff games.
“For some reason we just don’t get out of (the first) round,” Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. “That was a big thing for us this week. I’m disappointed and I’m sure (the players) are disappointed we weren’t able to get it done.”
Like Jackson, Roosevelt (8-3) came into the game with a 0-3 record in state playoff games, but flipped that monkey off its back and trampled him with a dominating ground game.
The Roughriders scored on their first three possessions, putting together methodical drives of 80, 80 and 65 yards to build a 20-7 lead. All but 20 of those yards came on the ground.
Taku Shiozaki, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound running back, rushed for 211 yards on 35 carries and scored five of the Roughriders’ six touchdowns.
“It’s all about the offensive line,” Shiozaki said. “I couldn’t have done anything without them.”
Vincent said that line was the best the Timberwolves faced all season.
“(They were) well-coached, strong, big kids,” he said. “We’re undersized. We have been undersized all year. We’ve largely got it done with grit and determination, not with raw size.”
Down 20-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Jackson demonstrated that grit by putting together a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive, capped by Trey Robinson’s 28-yard touchdown reception with 12 seconds left. That cut the difference to 20-14 and seemed to give the Timberwolves some momentum, but …
“To win this game, we were going to have to get a couple stops in the second half and give our offense a couple more opportunities,” Vincent said. “We weren’t able to do that.”
After driving to the Roosevelt 27-yard line on the opening possession of the second half, Jackson’s stalled and turned the ball over on downs. Roosevelt then moved 73 yards on eight plays — all on the ground — with Shiozaki scoring his fourth TD of the night, this time on 3-yard run.
The 28-14 lead didn’t last long.
One again showing its grit, Jackson scored twice in a span of 1:39 to tie the game. The first score came on a 6-yard run by Nick White. Then, figuring they couldn’t stop Shiozaki and Co. anyway, the Timberwolves opted for an onside kick, which they recovered.
Six plays later, they were in the end zone again, this time on a 10-yard pass from Conor Plaisance to Robinson.
“They have a very good offense,” Shiozaki said of the Timberwolves. “Our defense is usually pretty good, but they confused us sometimes.”
After tying the game, the Timberwolves again tried an onside kick, but this time Roosevelt recovered. And, well, you know what happened next. Ten plays, 50 yards, and Shiozaki was back in the end zone.
From there it looked like the two teams might trade touchdowns the rest of the way — neither team punted all night — as Jackson needed just four plays to drive to the Roosevelt 3. On the fifth play, though, Roosevelt’s Spencer Farias put the game out of reach. He stepped in front of a Plaisance pass near the goal line and returned it the length of the field for a game-breaking TD.
“We were just hoping someone would step up and make a play,” Roosevelt coach Matt Nelson said. “Spencer was there.”
Jackson turned the ball over twice in the game, and both led to Roosevelt scores. A fumble in the first half set the stage for one of the Roughriders’ long, ground-churning scoring drives. “Turnovers are all so crucial at anytime in the season, but especially in the playoffs when you are playing really good football teams,” Vincent said.
Plaisance completed 26 of 42 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson caught eight of those throws for 153 yards and two TDs.
Despite the disappointing loss, and a few tears from his players, Vincent said the T-wolves had “nothing to hang their heads about.”
“You know what? I’m proud of my boys the way they rallied tonight,” he said. “They battled all the way to the end. This was a group that if I remember right, was predicted to finish second or third in our league. So they have had a heck of a year.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
R—Taku Shiozaki 5 run (John Peterson kick)
J—Larry Baker-Bruce 1 run (Michael Zeng kick)
R—Shiozaki 5 run (Peterson kick)
R—Shiozaki 3 run (kick failed)
J—Trey Robinson 28 pass from Connor Plaisance (Zeng kick)
R—Shiozaki 3 run (Mitchell Bouldin pass from Austin Gunning)
J—Nick White 3 run (Zeng kick)
J—Robinson 10 pass from Plaisance (Zeng kick)
R—Shiozaki 3 run (Peterson kick)
R—Spencer Farias 96 interception return (Peterson kick)
Records—Roosevelt 8-3 overall. Jackson 9-2.a