LAKE STEVENS — Jayden Limar ran wild with another electrifying performance.
Lake Stevens’ defense shut down Gonzaga Prep’s triple-option attack for a second straight year.
And the Vikings keep marching on.
Next up? A rematch against the defending champs.
Limar piled up 284 total yards and five touchdowns to lead the No. 2 seed Lake Stevens football team to a 42-17 rout of No. 10 seed Gonzaga Prep in a Class 4A state quarterfinal rematch Saturday evening.
“Ultimately after (losing the state title game) last year, we talked about trying to get back and winning it this year,” Vikings coach Tom Tri said. “And we’re down to two games left now.”
With the victory, Lake Stevens (10-2) advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in the past four postseasons.
An awfully familiar opponent awaits.
The Vikings will face sixth-seeded Graham-Kapowsin, which advanced with a 28-21 quarterfinal win over third-seeded Sumner.
It’ll be a rematch of last year’s 4A state championship game, which saw Lake Stevens fall 44-7 to a star-studded Graham-Kapowsin team that completed one of the most dominant seasons in state history.
The Vikings get their shot at revenge next week, when the two perennial powerhouses collide for the fifth time in the past seven state playoffs.
“It’s honestly amazing that we get to play them (and) hopefully get our redemption,” Limar said. “I just can’t wait to see what our team can go out there and do against them.”
After Lake Stevens dispatched Gonzaga Prep 35-14 in last year’s state quarterfinals, the programs met again Saturday in the same round and same location.
The rematch played out mostly the same.
The Vikings shook off an early Bullpups touchdown drive, built a 21-10 halftime lead and pulled away in the second half to move one step closer to their first-ever official state crown.
“I was just proud of the way that we came out and executed and did what we were supposed to do,” Tri said.
Limar added to his spectacular season with another massive night.
The Notre Dame-bound senior running back rushed for 177 yards and four TDs on 19 carries, including a breakaway 70-yard score that stretched the lead to 42-10 on the opening play of the fourth quarter. He also caught four passes for 107 yards and a TD.
For the season, Limar has 1,966 total yards and 34 TDs.
“He’s special,” Tri said. “We want to spread the ball around and force teams to have to defend everything. But you’re also pretty negligent if you don’t get the ball to (Limar). … He’s been our motor.”
With Limar leading the way, the Vikings scored TDs on six of their first seven non-end-of-half possessions — including a pair of drives spanning 90-plus yards.
Lake Stevens sophomore quarterback Kolton Matson turned in another efficient performance, completing 9 of 12 passes for 208 yards, one TD and one interception. He also ran for 49 yards on five attempts. Junior receiver Cole Becker was one of his top targets, finishing with three catches for 74 yards.
“I thought our O-line really set the tone,” Tri said. “Our O-line has been awesome all year, but (they had) another great night tonight up front.
“They did a great job of just keeping their feet moving on contact with low pad level and creating some holes for Jayden to run through. That’s why we were able to move the ball as well as we could.”
On the other side, the Vikings’ defense stymied Gonzaga Prep’s triple-option attack once again.
After the Bullpups marched downfield for an opening-drive TD, Lake Stevens held them to just three points over their next seven possessions. Gonzaga Prep’s 17 points were a season low against in-state opponents.
“It’s all about everyone doing their own job,” Vikings standout junior linebacker Mason Turner said.
“We had the linebackers and the D-line focusing on the dive. We had the D-ends watching the QB, making sure he’s not keeping it. And then we had our outside guys watching the pitch. … We really just shut it down one by one.”
Senior back Lilomaiava Mikaele led the Bullpups with 124 yards and one TD on 24 carries. Fellow senior Nick Bankey added 101 yards and one TD on 10 carries, with most of his yardage coming on a long score with less than five minutes to play.
Prior to that late TD, Lake Stevens limited Gonzaga Prep (9-3) to just 251 total yards.
Tri said after allowing the opening-drive score, the Vikings mixed up their defensive fronts more often throughout the game.
“I give our defensive coordinator, Eric Dinwiddie, a lot of credit,” Tri said. “We were in a five-man front. A four-man, three-linebacker front. A four-man, two-linebacker front. And blitzing and stunting and just trying to mix it up.
“We didn’t do that a whole lot on the first drive, but we made a few adjustments there. And it seemed to help.”
The Bullpups capped that opening drive with a 1-yard TD by Mikaele, who plunged into the end zone on fourth-and-goal to give Gonzaga Prep an early lead.
It didn’t last long.
Limar rattled off a 25-yard run on Lake Stevens’ first play from scrimmage and junior receiver Paul Varela found the end zone a few plays later, taking a sweep around the edge for a 7-yard TD.
Then after forcing a three-and-out, the Vikings mounted another quick scoring drive. Limar kickstarted it with a 25-yard reception on a swing pass and finished it with a short TD run, powering in for a 1-yard score to give Lake Stevens a 14-7 lead.
The Bullpups returned the ensuing kickoff to near midfield and then drove inside the Vikings 15-yard line. But Lake Stevens’ defense tightened up in the red zone, forcing Gonzaga Prep to settle for a 27-yard field goal.
“They got a few first downs and marched the ball down the field, but I thought our defense hunkered down and tackled really well,” Tri said.
The Vikings then struck again on offense.
Matson completed a pass over the middle to Becker, who eluded two defenders while racing for a 45-yard catch-and-run.
A few plays later, Matson hit Limar on a wheel route. The star running back hauled in the pass and then stiff-armed a defender to the ground on his way to a 28-yard TD, giving Lake Stevens a 21-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
Later in the half, the Vikings’ defense came up with another big stop. The Bullpups drove to the Lake Stevens 35, but the Vikings stuffed a fourth-and-2 run up the middle to preserve an 11-point lead heading into the break.
“Momentum is huge in the playoffs,” Tri said. “If you have momentum, that is half the battle. … And I thought we had it for the most part.”
Lake Stevens expanded its lead with a run-heavy scoring march to open the second half. Limar extended the drive with a fourth-and-short conversion and then capped it with a 7-yard TD run.
Later in the third quarter, Limar took a screen pass for 39 yards and scored on a 5-yard run to make it 35-10.
And on the opening play of the fourth, Limar provided the exclamation mark. The four-star recruit took a handoff to the left and showcased his next-level speed, racing past the defense for a 70-yard TD that stretched the margin to 42-10.
“I would not have done anything today without (the offensive line),” Limar said. “They killed it on everything. They made quick adjustments during the game. Like, that long run was because of the quick adjustments they were making.
“So everything goes to them. All my yards, those are their yards too.”
After rolling past Gonzaga Prep for the second season in a row, the Vikings are back in the state semifinals. They’re one win away from their third state championship game appearance in the past four postseasons.
To get there, they’ll have to go through the team that dashed their title dreams a year ago.
“We’re ready,” Turner said.