EVERETT — Moments after a near-perfect individual peformance and a similarly dominant showing from his team, an enthusiastic Archbishop Murphy senior quarterback Connor Johnson was ready to play more football.
“I’m ready to go,” Johnson said. “I want to play another game right now. It’s exciting.”
Along with his fellow Wildcats, Johnson is hungry for the program’s first-ever Class 2A state title. And now Murphy is just one win away.
Johnson completed 11 of 12 passes for 242 yards and five touchdowns as top-ranked Archbishop Murphy scored touchdowns on each of its first seven possessions and rolled to a 52-14 win over fourth-ranked Lynden in a Class 2A state semifinal Saturday afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The victory advances the Wildcats (13-0) to the 2A state title game for the fourth time in program history and the first since 2011. Murphy can capture its first 2A state championship with a win over Liberty (Issaquah) at 1 p.m. next Saturday in the Tacoma Dome. Liberty (12-0) advanced with a 35-26 victory over Ellensburg in the other semifinal.
“It feels great,” Johnson said. “This has been our goal since day one. Since losing in the semifinals last year, we don’t want to get that feeling again. This has been our goal since day one and now it’s just time to go get it.”
After throwing two interceptions in last week’s quarterfinal against Tumwater, Johnson bounced back for a nearly flawless performance Saturday — with help from his two star receivers. Murphy senior Anfernee Gurley hauled in five catches for a team-high 115 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Kyler Gordon caught four passes for 89 yards and three scores.
“With our route concepts that we have, there’s always a receiver that’s open,” Johnson said. “And I can rely on all four of my receivers on the field. Someone will come open. … I have a lot of options.”
“I think Connor had a really good game today,” Murphy coach Jerry Jensen added. “He found the open guy. (Lynden) bracketed Anfernee a couple times, and we were able to go away from that.”
Senior running back Collin Montez rushed for a 6-yard touchdown on Murphy’s opening possession and Gordon hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass on the team’s second drive to give the Wildcats a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Lynden, after netting minus-7 yards on its first two possessions, responded with a 79-yard drive. But as senior quarterback Jacob Hommes approached the goal line on a 12-yard run, Murphy junior linebacker Emmanuel Osuoha knocked the ball free and Gurley recovered in the end zone to stymie the Lynden scoring threat.
“Critical,” Jensen said of the play. “That was kind of one of those things where the air in (Lynden) kind of went out.”
On Murphy’s next possession, Johnson lofted a 58-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Gurley. Then after Lynden senior receiver Rylan Severson hauled in a tough fourth-and-goal touchdown grab, Gordon scored on a 16-yard touchdown reception with 37 seconds left in the half to cap a quick three-play scoring drive and give the Wildcats a 28-7 lead.
“Connor’s a great QB,” Gurley said. “He’s well-minded (and has) composure. We knew coming into the game we’d have some openings in the passing game, and he really took advantage of it.”
Johnson connected with Gordon for a 54-yard touchdown pass 18 seconds into the second half, and later scored on a quarterback sneak to stretch the margin to 42-7 midway through the third quarter. Murphy senior Ryan Henderson booted a late 56-yard field goal to cap yet another dominant all-around performance by the Wildcats.
Murphy has outscored its opponents 407-30 in eight games this season, with its other five scheduled contests forfeited by opponents due to player-safety concerns.
“It’s amazing,” Gordon said of advancing to the title game. “It’s a good feeling. But we know that it means nothing if we don’t go out there and get that ‘W.’ So we just want to finish it off right.”