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Cusick falls to TC Prep

KENNEWICK – Will Hoppes owns a boatload of state records on the gridiron.

He’d trade them all for one state football championship.

The Tri-Cities Prep senior quarterback will get his chance next weekend after guiding the Jaguars to a 42-26 victory over Cusick on Saturday in the 1B state semifinals at Lampson Stadium.

The Jaguars (10-2) avenged a quarterfinal loss to Cusick (11-1) a year ago and are in the state finals for the first time in school history. They will play Lummi at 4 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

Hoppes picked up another record Saturday, throwing for 334 yards to give him 9,985 for his career, tops among all 1B throwers all-time and No. 4 regardless of classification.

“To see this happen after all the hard work we’ve done would make (a title) that much sweeter,” said Hoppes, who also ran for three touchdowns and was 17-of-32 passing with a TD and an interception.

Hoppes’ final TD run gave Prep a cushion after it nearly blew a 28-6 third-quarter lead. The Panthers scored 20 straight points to close to within 28-26 before Prep marched 70 yards in six plays in the fourth quarter, with Hoppes plunging in from a yard out with 9:07 to play.

Cusick appeared to tie the game when Tyler Roberts returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown, but a personal foul behind the play negated the score.

The Panthers still got the ball in Prep territory, but Jarrod Van Steeg stripped the ball from a scrambling Spencer Shanholtzer, with Antonio Ledesma recovering at the Prep 17.

It was one of six turnovers forced by the Jaguars defense, which also sacked Shanholtzer three times.

After a scoreless first quarter, Prep jumped out to a 20-0 lead, taking advantage of a pair of fumbles in doing so.

Kevin Ratuiste opened the scoring with a 14-yard TD run. After Troy Redmann returned a fumble 20 yards to the Cusick 29, the Jaguars needed only one play to capitalize on a TD pass from Hoppes to Jameson Pederson, who’d forced the fumble.

Cusick fumbled again on its next possession, and after Jacob Schmidt’s recovery, Prep went 84 yards in seven plays, with Hoppes scoring from 8 yards out.

Shanholtzer’s 5-yard run gave Cusick its first score in the second quarter. The Panthers scored twice in the third quarter on passes of 39 and 56 yards from Shanholtzer to Josiah Rhodes. Cusick’s final score came in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard Shanholtzer run.

Shanholtzer completed 18 of 40 passes for 270 yards and two interceptions while rushing for 94 yards on 20 carries. Rhoades finished with 107 yards receiving on three catches.