SEATTLE — In the first half it looked like Marysville Pilchuck had discovered the formula needed to contain Bellevue’s high-powered Wing-T rushing attack.
The Tomahawks held the Wolverines scoreless through the first 24 minutes while coming up with a pair of fourth-down stops and forcing a punt.
But then in the third quarter, Bellevue started to move the ball like it had on teams all season long. And at the end of the game, it was MP’s high-octane Slot-T offense that was kept in check.
The top-seeded Wolverines ran for 235 yards and four touchdowns in the second half, including three scores by William Wang, and held the fifth-seeded Tomahawks to a season-low scoring output in a 27-3 victory in the Class 3A state semifinals.
“We just couldn’t get things going offensively in the second half,” MP coach Brandon Carson said. “They’re a really good team. We knew that coming in. They’re phenomenal on defense and all those things. … We had a really good run here. It sucks to see it end.”
The Tomahawks opened the second half with the ball and a 3-0 lead, but were quickly forced into a three-and-out after a pair of mishandled shotgun snaps out of a Wildcat formation.
Bellevue started its first drive of the half at midfield, but after two plays the Wolverines were facing third-and-16. It appeared MP was going to come up with another stop and give its offense a chance to make it a two-score game.
That’s when the floodgates opened.
Wang ripped off a 48-yard run off the right tackle down to the MP 8. He punched in a 4-yard TD three plays later for a 7-3 lead.
The Tomahawks were forced into another three-and-out and handed Bellevue prime field position after a short punt that was downed at the MP 40.
A steady dose of runs by Wang, including a 2-yard TD, aided a seven-play drive that made it 14-3 with 3:02 left in the third.
MP picked up its first first down of the half on the next drive but was forced to punt again after being called for a delay of game with the offense on the field on fourth-and-5.
Bellevue’s Ishaan Daniels sprinted around the right side for a 65-yard TD run on the first play of the ensuing drive to cap a 21-point quarter for the Wolverines with 1:03 left.
The Tomahawks moved the ball to the Bellevue side of the field for the first time in the second half on its next possession, driving to the 29. But Bellevue locked down and eventually stuffed a fourth-and-10 play and took back over at its own 37.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Carson said. “You have to be so perfect against these guys in everything that you do.”
Wang capped the scoring with a 1-yard TD with 5:12 left in regulation.
The senior running back finished with 190 yards and three scores on 33 carries and Daniels added 87 yards and a TD on five rushes. Bellevue racked up 338 yards on offense — all on the ground — while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
The Wolverines possessed the ball for nearly 30 of the game’s 48 minutes.
“It’s tough playing defense that long against a team that’s physical and comes right after you all the time,” Carson said. “So hats off to them.”
The Tomahawks gained just 58 yards of total offense on their five drives in the second half and 183 yards overall, a season low. Dylan Carson ran for 91 yards on 21 carries and Jordan Velasquez added 57 yards on 11 rushes.
MP opened the scoring in the first half after coming up with a stop on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 4:15 left in the second quarter. The stop came at the end of a 17-play drive that took 10:45 off the clock.
The Tomahawks proceeded to march down to the Wolverines’ 20 on 11 plays with a balance of runs up the middle by Dylan Carson and outside runs by Velasquez and Gaylan Gray. Ashton Wolff’s 37-yard field goal as time expired made it 3-0.
Bellevue moves on to the title game to face Kennewick at noon on Saturday, Dec. 4, at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
MP lost for the third time in three tries in the state semifinals, which includes a 20-10 loss to Bellevue in 2014. That victory was vacated after recruiting violations within the Wolverines’ program.
The Tomahawks finished the season 11-2, reaching the 11-win mark for the second straight full-length season.
“I’m really proud of them. They played hard,” Brandon Carson said. “It’s tough because this group has been really good for a really long time. They’ve been a special group and they gave us a lot of memories. I know today is going to hurt a little bit, but when they get to reflect upon everything, they had a heckuva run.”