MP rides dominant ground attack into state quarterfinals

The Tomahawks rush for 538 yards in a 52-21 win over Garfield in the 3A state tournament.

MARYSVILLE — For about a quarter and a half it looked like Garfield might give Marysville Pilchuck a challenge.

Instead, Saturday night turned into a familiar story — another dominant Tomahawks win.

Dylan Carson churned out 281 yards and three touchdowns on 20 rushes, MP’s defense held the Bulldogs’ rushing attack to just 2.8 yards per carry and the fifth-seeded Tomahawks earned their second straight Class 3A state quarterfinal berth with a 52-21 win over No. 12 Garfield.

The 52 points set a new single-game playoff record for MP, which has scored 49 or more points in 10 of its 11 games this season.

“I’m really happy with where we’re at,” Tomahawks head coach Brandon Carson said. “We get to live to play another week. Man, I love it.”

It was a signature performance for the Tomahawks’ deceptive Slot-T offense. Dylan Carson provided the punch between the tackles. His three scores included long runs of 75 and 55 yards. And when Garfield keyed on the senior running back, Jordan Velasquez and Gaylan Gray used their speed to get around the edge and break long runs. Velasquez busted an 80-yard touchdown run on a toss to the right side on the first play from scrimmage. Gray added a 20-yard score late in the first quarter on a run around the left side after quarterback Jace Luton faked a handoff up the middle.

“We thought they were going to do what they needed to do to take Dylan away, which opened up some other stuff for us on the outside,” Brandon Carson said. “We got Jordan going, Gaylan going and Mikey (Bejar) going. We’ve got some good backs and our offensive line did a phenomenal job, too.”

MP (10-1) ran for 297 yards in the first half and finished with 546 total yards on the ground while averaging a whopping 12.4 yards per carry. Velasquez chipped in 153 yards and two TDs on 13 carries and Gray added 88 yards and a score on six carries.

“They’re just beasts,” junior linebacker Noah Faber said. “I love our offense. Just down teams throats we run it. You know it’s coming. You can’t stop it.”

Dylan Carson’s massive performance helped him eclipse the 2,000-yard and 40-touchdown marks on the season. He now has 2,138 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground.

“He’s played really well for us, but it starts with those guys up front,” Brandon Carson said. “Holy cow, they do a really good job.”

Faber and the defense limited Garfield (6-4) to 31 rushing yards on 13 carries in the first half as MP built a 31-14 lead. Seventeen of those yards came on scrambles by quarterback EJ Caminong.

The Bulldogs finished with 301 total yards of offense, with 137 of those coming on two long passing TDs in the first half and 72 more on Garfield’s final drive while MP was up 38 points.

“We just knew when they came out in their heavy set we had to stop the run and when we did that we knew they might resort to some passing,” Faber said. “I think we did a pretty good job preventing them from passing … in the second half.”

Velasquez’s 80-yard run gave the Tomahawks a 6-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game. Gray’s 20-yarder and a Dylan Carson 2-point run extended it to 14-0 at the 1:17 mark of the first.

Caminong went over the top of the MP defense on the first play of the next drive and connected with Reggie Witherspoon for a 52-yard score that made it 14-7.

The Tomahawks answered back when Dylan Carson ran through the defense for a 55-yard score with 10:34 left in the second.

Caminong finished a less-than-two-minute sequence that featured three touchdowns with a 85-yard strike to Denali Dukes on a play-action pass.

It was all MP from there on out.

Carson capped a nine-play, 61-yard drive with a 1-yard run. The Tomahawk defense then stopped Garfield on fourth down to hand the offense the ball back at the Bulldogs’ 31 with 1:10 remaining in the half. Ashton Wolff booted a 38-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to make it 31-14.

Carson’s 75-yarder opened the scoring in the second half, and Mikey Bejar and Velasquez added TD runs that finished off a streak of 31 unanswered MP points.

Raphiel Justice caught an 8-yard TD pass that made it 52-21 with 3:33 left.

Caminong finished 11 of 20 for 223 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Justice had 59 yards on five catches.

Marysville Pilchuck moves on to face No. 4 Yelm (10-0) in the quarterfinals.

“This senior group is really special,” Brandon Carson said. “We get to practice with them for one more week and hopefully more. This is exciting stuff for us.”

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