Lake Stevens star running back Jayden Limar totaled 246 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings past North Creek for a 42-27 win Friday night in a Class 4A first-round state playoff game. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lake Stevens star running back Jayden Limar totaled 246 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings past North Creek for a 42-27 win Friday night in a Class 4A first-round state playoff game. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lake Stevens beats North Creek, advances to 4A state quarterfinals

Jayden Limar scores 4 TDs and the Vikings win 42-27 to reach the state quarters for the 6th time in the past 7 postseasons.

LAKE STEVENS — Jayden Limar had yet another big performance.

The Lake Stevens defense came up with four takeaways.

And the Vikings moved one step closer to their ultimate goal.

Limar totaled 246 yards and four touchdowns to lead the No. 2-seeded Lake Stevens High School football team to a 42-27 win over No. 15 seed North Creek in a Class 4A first-round state playoff game Friday night.

“It’s definitely a huge step,” Vikings junior Cole Becker said. “We know it’s only gonna get harder from here. But we’re ready to work — ready to put that work in to hopefully do what we couldn’t last year and win the whole thing.”

With the victory, Lake Stevens (9-2) advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals for the sixth time in the past seven postseasons. The Vikings will host No. 10 seed Gonzaga Prep, which will be a rematch of their 35-14 win over the Bullpups in last year’s state quarterfinals.

After state runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2021, Lake Stevens is zeroed in on capturing its first-ever state crown.

“Any time you get this far in playoffs, it definitely means a lot,” Limar said. “… I hope this is the year that we can get it done.”

Limar, a four-star Notre Dame commit, rushed for 189 yards and three TDs on 24 carries to lead the Vikings. The electrifying senior running back also had four catches for 57 yards, including a long TD reception on a trick-play double pass from Becker.

Limar has totaled 1,680 yards from scrimmage and 29 TDs this season, while averaging a whopping 9.2 yards per carry.

“He’s just got such great agility and balance,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “And just his heart, his want-to. … He just has that ability to make guys miss, have good vision and accelerate, and turn nothing into something.”

Versatile sophomore receiver Cassidy Bolong-Banks also had a big night for the Vikings, finishing with 157 total yards and one TD. He caught four passes for 104 yards and a score, while adding 53 yards on seven carries as a fly-sweep weapon.

At quarterback, Lake Stevens sophomore Kolton Matson continued his stretch of efficient play. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 197 yards, one TD and no interceptions and also ran for a score. Over the past five games, he’s thrown 11 TD passes and no interceptions.

And on defense, the Vikings came up with three interceptions and a potential touchdown-saving forced fumble on the game’s opening possession. They held the Jaguars (5-5) to just 14 points until the closing minutes.

“Those are huge momentum swings that you’ve gotta have in the playoffs,” Tri said of the defensive takeaways. “And I thought our defense played pretty darn well.”

Lake Stevens defenders Paul Varela and Steven Lee Jr. force a potential touchdown-saving fumble on the game’s opening possession. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lake Stevens defenders Paul Varela and Steven Lee Jr. force a potential touchdown-saving fumble on the game’s opening possession. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

North Creek hit a big play on its opening drive, when junior receiver Riley Elvidge broke free for a 44-yard catch-and-run. But as Elvidge raced inside the 10-yard line, Lake Stevens defensive backs Paul Varela and Steven Lee Jr. knocked the ball free and junior teammate David Brown recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.

However, later in the first quarter, it was the Vikings’ turn to lose a costly fumble. The Jaguars stripped the ball away on a Lake Stevens punt return and recovered it on the 6-yard line. Two plays later, senior quarterback Luc Naldrett opened the second quarter by finding Woodward for a 6-yard TD pass to give North Creek a 7-0 lead.

But the Vikings answered right back, responding with three consecutive TD drives.

Limar put Lake Stevens on the board by taking a toss to the right, waiting for a lane to develop and then bursting through a gap for a 28-yard TD. And on the Vikings’ next possession, the star running back took a direct snap and powered up the middle for a 10-yard TD to give Lake Stevens a 14-7 lead.

“It’s insane,” Becker said of watching his ultra-talented teammate. “He’s a four-star for a reason.”

Becker snuffed out a screen pass on the ensuing North Creek possession, reaching up with one hand to tip the ball to himself for a highlight-reel interception.

A few plays later, Bolong-Banks added a highlight-reel play of his own. The sophomore standout hauled in a short pass, juked past a defender and raced for a 20-yard TD to extend the Vikings’ lead to 21-7 late in the first half.

“Cassidy’s a special dude,” Limar said. “That was awesome to see.”

Versatile sophomore receiver Cassidy Bolong-Banks totaled 157 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Versatile sophomore receiver Cassidy Bolong-Banks totaled 157 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

In the third quarter, Naldrett unleashed a deep pass that Elvidge hauled in for a tough 44-yard reception in traffic. On the very next play, Cunningham ran in for a 3-yard score to trim the margin to 21-14.

But the Vikings quickly squashed any ideas of a tight four-quarter battle.

Just a few plays later, Lake Stevens dialed up a trick-play double pass. Matson took the snap and tossed a backward pass out wide to Becker, who then launched a deep ball over the middle to a streaking Limar. The speedy back hauled it in for a 37-yard TD to make it 28-14.

When the Vikings ran the same play last week, Becker underthrew the pass. This time, he was right on the money.

“I knew if I got another chance, I was gonna get it to him,” said Becker, who grew up playing quarterback. “And thankfully I did.”

On the very next play from scrimmage, Lake Stevens came up with another takeaway. Standout senior cornerback Isaac Redford made a leaping interception for his seventh pick of the season, giving the ball right back to the Vikings inside North Creek territory.

Limar then drove them downfield and Matson scored on an 8-yard quarterback keeper, giving Lake Stevens a 21-point cushion late in the third quarter. Limar added a 3-yard TD run midway through the fourth to make it 42-14.

After the Vikings pulled their starters, North Creek added a pair of late TDs in the closing minutes to trim the final margin.

Elvidge led the Jaguars with five catches for 144 yards. Cunningham ran for 96 yards and one TD on 19 carries. Naldrett finished 18-of-34 passing for 240 yards, two TDs and three interceptions.

Prior to surrending the pair of late TDs, the Vikings held a 527-252 advantage in total yardage. But Tri acknowledged there are still things to clean up for his team, which was flagged for a barrage of penalties throughout the night.

“I thought we played hard and played resilient,” Tri said. “I don’t think we executed very well, but give North Creek some credit. They put us in some pressure moments.

“The good news is we won the game, and I still feel like we can keep getting better. … We’ve just gotta clean some things up if we wanna keep playing.”

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