By Mike Allende Special to The Herald
EVERETT — No, Jackson quarterback Conor Plaisance didn’t pick up 25 yards every time he passed the ball. It only seemed that way.
Picking apart a Tahoma defense that was unable to keep up with the Timberwolves quick receivers, Plaisance threw for a school-record 508 yards and had five touchdowns to lead Jackson to a 56-34 victory in a Class 4A district playoff game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Jackson (9-1), the Wesco champion, advances to play Roosevelt next week.
To be fair, Jackson’s defense, which shut out Monroe in the Wesco title game, did show up in the second half. The Timberwolves forced two key 3-and-outs in the third quarter that allowed the offense to turn a 6-point lead into a 49-28 advantage.
In all, the teams combined for more than 1,000 total yards as Tahoma (5-5) quarterback Shane Nelson threw for 446 yards. Most impressive, neither quarterback was picked off.
“Both teams were moving the ball,” Plaisance said. “But we felt like we could keep moving it and our defense eventually would step up and that’s what happened.”
While Plaisance and the passing game was the story, the key was a pair of 3-and-outs the Jackson defense managed in the third quarter that turned a 6-point game into a 49-28 Jackson lead.
“The first half we put some things in specifically for Tahoma,” Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. “It turned into a track meet. The second half we went back to our base defense, took some of the thinking out of it and just told our kids to play like they had been all year.”
The 3-and-outs gave the Timberwolves momentum they didn’t relinquish. On one of the few drives that featured the run, Larry Baker-Bruce capped a 10-play drive with a 3-yard run for a 42-28 lead and Plaisance hooked up with Trey Robinson for a 33-yard score to make it 49-28 late in the third. Tahoma managed just one touchdown after that.
“That put them on the defensive and forced them to only pass, which made them easier to defend,” Vincent said.
Defense was nowhere to be found in the first half as the teams traded big plays continually. Plaisance found Alek Baumgartner for a 86-yard touchdown on Jackson’s second play only to have Tahoma go 80 yards and score on a 32-yard pass from Nelson to Deshon Williams, who had 17 catches for 252 yards.
Near the end of the first quarter, Plaisance went over the middle to Keynan Foster for a 60-yard score but Tahoma again tied it. Foster scored on a short run for a 21-14 lead but Tahoma answered again on a Damon Funk run.
Just before halftime a 60-yard pass to Robinson set up a 17-yard TD pass to Baumgartner and when the Timberwolves opened the second half with a 28-yard scoring pass to Foster, Jackson finally began to open it up.
“They tried to defend us one-on-one and we have some pretty quick receivers,” Plaisance said. “We ran that slip screen a lot and our guys found holes and made some big plays.”
Vincent said he felt his team could move the ball against Tahoma after viewing film.
“We knew if they did what they did on film, we could throw it,” he said. “But you never know, teams can adjust. But they put a lot of guys in the box and we did a good job taking advantage of that.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
J—Conor Plaisance 86 pass to Alek Baumgartner (Michael Zeng kick)
T—Shane Nelson 32 pass to Deshon Williams (Evan Greenwood kick)
J—Plaisance 60 pass to Keynan Foster (Zeng kick)
T—Nelson 8 pass to Joey Lutton (Greenwood kick)
J—Foster 6 run (Zeng kick)
T—Funk 2 run (Greenwood kick)
J—Plaisance 17 pass to Baumgartner (Zeng kick)
J—Plaisance 28 pass to Foster (kicked failed)
T—Funk 4 run (Greenwood kick)
J—Larry Baker-Bruce 3 run (Baker-Bruce pass to Alec Kisena)
J—Plaisance 33 pass to Trey Robinson (Zeng kick)
J—Nick White 5 run (Zeng kick)
T—Nelson 6 pass to Lutton (Greenwood kick)
Records—Jackson 9-1. Kentlake 6-4.