Just before the clock hit all zeroes, the lights went out at Albi Stadium on Friday.
But it was Mt. Spokane’s defense that kept Kamiakin in the dark all night long.
All year the Wildcats have been carried by the legs of Kannon Katzer, and the dynamic running back got his – and then some.
But the most impressive performance of the night came on the defensive side for the Wildcats.
Kazter carried 26 times for 211 yards with five first-half touchdowns, the Wildcats’ defense completely shut down a good offensive squad and Mt. Spokane overwhelmed Kamiakin 49-20 in a District 8 3A playoff game at Albi Stadium on Friday.
The Wildcats (8-2) led 49-7 after three quarters and instituted a running clock.
The Braves (7-3) earned the second seed from the Mid-Columbia Conference, averaging nearly 34 points per game. Tailback Tuna Altahir had rushed for 1,331 yards on 174 carries (7.6 per) with 19 total TDs.
Mt. Spokane limited Altahir to 75 yards – 30 on one carry.
A first-quarter fumble recovery and early second-quarter interception proved instrumental for the Wildcats.
“We got a couple turnovers that helped us get the ball back to our offense and yeah, kept their back bottled up all night,” Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said. “That was kind of our game plan. So you know, front did a nice job and the backers were flying around.”
Meanwhile, Katzer did what he does.
“It becomes routine a little bit,” Cloer said. “You never want it to feel routine, because he’s just doing amazing things. He just does it every game and works so hard.”
On the first possession, Katzer took a direct snap in the wildcat formation, went off tackle and broke outside for 48 yards to the Kamiakin 5. Two plays later, he plowed into the end zone to give the Wildcats an early lead.
Kamiakin’s Henry Mercado hit Messiah Jones for a 17-yard gain, then connected with Woodley Downard on a 55-yard catch-and-run to the 1. Altahir did the rest, pounding it in to tie it up with 6:36 left in the first.
On the Braves’ second possession, Mercado found Altahir on a swing pass for 30 yards. But on the next play, Mercado fumbled the exchange and Mt. Spokane’s Matt McNitt fell on it at the Kamiakin 37.
“We came out of the first drive and didn’t play very well, kind of out of position a little bit and then we got settled down after that,” Cloer said.
Mt. Spokane had 20- and 19-yard touchdowns wiped out by penalties, but Katzer was relentless. He and reeled off runs of 9 and 10 yards before a 1-yard plunge on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-7.
Three plays later, Jake Griffiths intercepted a floater and took it 47 yards to the Kamiakin 1. After an exchange of penalties, Katzer took it in and increased the Wildcats’ advantage to 21-7 with 10:29 left in the half.
“Huge play,” Cloer said. “We did a good job of getting some blocks on it and almost got into the end zone. Made it an easy score for us.”
Mt. Spokane forced a punt, then Connor Marll threw a pass to Tommy Madill for a 31-yard gain to the Kamiakin 7. Two plays later, Katzer scored his fourth TD of the half to make it 28-7.
Kamiakin went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Mt. Spokane 41, but Mercado was hit as he threw and the pass fell incomplete.
Katzer carried for 24 yards, then Madill made a circus catch for 32 yards to the Kamiakin 11. Katzer took the direct snap and went up the middle for his fifth TD and a 35-7 lead.
Mt. Spokane forced a three-and-out to start the second half, then Marll scrambled to find Katzer on a short pass. He slipped a tackle and went 38 yards to the 18.
Katzer took it to the 6 for first-and-goal, then Cloer called on 5-foot-8, 250-pound senior lineman Jaymon Funk twice to plow into the line for a touchdown and 42-7 lead midway through the third.
“I’ve got to admit, I don’t get a lot of those,” Funk said. “We have a play – I can’t tell you what we call it. I mess around with (Cloer) and be like, ‘Hey, can I run the ball? Can we call it?’ ”
“To reward a kid like that and get him in the end zone is fun,” Cloer said.
After another three-and-out, AJ Newcomb found a wide-open Madill on a 73-yard touchdown pass to make it 49-7 and institute a running clock midway through the third quarter.
Madill finished with 150 yards on four catches and added 34 yards rushing.
Lucas Castilleja threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for Kamiakin.
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