YELM — Marysville Pilchuck High School’s explosive Slot-T rushing attack has been the source of headaches for many prep football coaches this season.
The Tomahawks had been nearly unstoppable through their 11 games entering Saturday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal clash with Yelm, scoring 49 or more points in 10 contests while ripping off long touchdown runs seemingly at will.
The Rubik’s Cube that is MP’s offense proved once again to be unsolvable with a state semifinal berth on the line.
Dylan Carson ran wild on his way to 427 yards and five touchdowns, the Tomahawks’ defense came up with a key third-quarter stop in the red zone and fifth-seeded MP (11-1) is on its way to the state semifinals for the first time since 2014 after a 39-21 victory over No. 4 Yelm (10-1).
“I’m so excited for these kids. They played their hearts out tonight,” Tomahawks coach Brandon Carson said. “That’s a heckuva Yelm team we played tonight. We knew it was going to be tough going in and our kids really responded.”
Led by Dylan Carson and its massive offensive line, MP racked up 488 yards on the ground. The Tomahawks had eight runs of at least 22 yards and all but three of Dylan Carson’s 28 carries went for positive yardage. The senior running back has posted an absurd 708 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground through the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
“I couldn’t thank (the offensive line) more as always,” Dylan Carson said. “The jobs they do are so underestimated in how much of an impact they have on our offense. We’re playing some of the best defenses and some of the best guys in the state — four-star, three-star (recruits) — and that were dominating really tells how good our offense can be.”
Dylan Carson’s third scoring run of the night, a 22-yarder, put MP up 26-14 with 8:36 left in the third quarter. The Tornados started their next drive with prime field position when a personal foul on the Tomahawks put the ball at the 50 after the kickoff. A pass interference call on MP on the first play of the drive moved the ball to the 35.
Five plays later, the Tomahawks appeared to get the stop they needed after an interception in the end zone, but it was nullified by a pass interference call. Then Yelm was called for two personal fouls after picking up first downs inside the red zone, the last of which pushed the Tornados into a first-and-goal from the 16. MP kept Yelm out of the end zone after stopping a fourth-and-goal play from the 6, ending a crucial scoring threat after a 15-play drive that took nearly 8 minutes off the clock.
“That was a big stop there,” Brandon Carson said. “That might have been the ball game there.”
Dylan Carson delivered a gut punch three plays later with a 90-yard scoring run on third-and-7 that extended the lead to 32-14 with 11:40 left in regulation.
“All their running backs are tough,” said Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo. “It takes more than one guy to take them down. As soon as you make contact, you gotta rally the troops to the (running) back. We didn’t do a particularly good job of that tonight, and it showed.”
The Tornados answered back with Palaina Hooper’s 6-yard TD pass to Aden Schaler with 8:31 left, but Dylan Carson quickly ended any hopes of a late comeback when he burst through the middle for a 53-yard TD run on the third play of the ensuing drive.
Jamaari Jefferson picked off Hooper on the next drive and MP ran out the clock to secure the win.
“I feel blessed,” senior two-way lineman Kaleb Potts said. “A lot of emotions right now. Happy that we got a win. Happy that we could do it for our guys.”
Yelm opened the scoring on an eight-play, 86-yard drive in the first quarter that was aided by an MP personal foul and a 32-yard pass from Hooper to Nathaniel Paul. Hooper dumped the ball to Ray Wright in the right flat for a 10-yard catch and run that made it 6-0.
MP answered on the first play of its next drive when Dylan Carson ripped off a 65-yard TD run up the gut for a 7-6 lead. Dylan Carson’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 12 seconds left in the first made it 14-6.
Brayden Platt tied it with a 15-yard TD run off the left tackle and a 2-point run with 7:33 to go in the second.
Quarterback Jace Luton and Jordan Velasquez connected for a 29-yard touchdown on fourth-and-14 that gave the Tomahawks a 20-14 lead heading into the break.
MP faces top-seeded Bellevue next Saturday with a chance to earn its first-ever state championship game appearance.
“It feels great to know that we’re playing up to our potential and we’re swinging with some of the best teams in the state,” Dylan Carson said. “I think we can keep going pretty far this year.”