The West Valley Eagles gave themselves more than a chance with an inspired first half Saturday.
The problem was when things unraveled in the final two quarters they got away from the Eagles quickly.
The tradition-rich Lynden Lions pulled away for a 34-21 win in a State 2A quarterfinal at Gonzaga Prep.
Lynden (11-1) takes on No. 1-ranked Archbishop Murphy in the semifinals. Archbishop Murphy handled another perennial playoff qualifier, Tumwater, 48-10 Saturday.
WV coach Craig Whitney knew his Eagles (10-2) would need to play as close to a perfect game to knock off Lynden. West Valley moved the ball up and down the field, but the Eagles didn’t have many points to show for it.
The score could have been 14-13 instead of 14-7 in Lynden’s favor at halftime, but WV didn’t connect on two field goals.
“We’ve got to score points when we move it,” Whitney said. “Missed two field goals, but really we don’t want to kick field goals we want to get touchdowns, especially against a team like Lynden.”
So when Lynden took the opening drive of the second half and needed just six plays to extend the lead to 20-7, the Eagles were up against it.
This is where things began to snowball against WV.
Matters became worse when Lynden got an interception on the Eagles’ first second-half possession.
Lynden made the turnover hurt when dual-threat quarterback Jacob Hommes scored on a 12-yard run, extending the lead to 27-7 with 4:42 left in the quarter.
WV faced a fourth-and-7 from its 38-yard line on the next possession. The Eagles set up in punt formation, but the snap went to quarterback Hunter Wright, who was set up as the blocking back for the punter. His pass was incomplete.
Lynden made the Eagles pay. Hommes hit Rylan Severson on a nice middle screen and he completed the 16-yard pass by scooting into the end zone untouched.
That made it 34-7 with 46 seconds left in the third.
“We were right there,” Whitney said, “but it got away from us a little bit. Lynden’s a good team.”
To the Eagles’ credit, they kept fighting.
They scored on their next possession when Wright found Hunter Tiffany on a 28-yard TD pass.
After an onside kick that Lynden fell on, the Eagles forced a punt on three downs, using two timeouts. When WV got the ball back, 1 minute had elapsed.
Wright completed five passes, culminating when he hit Ryan Leifer from 4 yards out to pull the Eagles within the final margin with 5:43 remaining.
Lynden ran out the clock.
Wright completed 23 of 40 attempts for 290 yards. He also rushed for 39.
Whitney will look back fondly on the season.
“Nobody thought we’d do much,” he said. “To finish 10-2 and go into the second round of the playoffs, I’m very proud of our kids. We had great leadership from our seniors. Every kid on the squad contributed whether it was a little bit or a lot, whether it was in practice or whether it was in a game. To have a chance to play three extra games you couldn’t ask for more.”
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