Any inclination that the Kamiakin Braves would not be ready to play Friday night after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Richland last week was an afterthought about six minutes into the game.
The Braves, who pushed the then-top-ranked Bombers to the limit before a blocked extra point ended the upset bid, came out on a mission. And leading that charge was Benson Smith, who scored four touchdowns — rushing, receiving and on defense — in a 57-20 rout of the rival Kennewick Lions at Lampson Stadium.
The Braves (5-2, 3-2 Mid-Columbia Conference) scored 21 quick points and never looked back in a game mired in penalties.
“We are perfectionists, and we don’t like to lose,” Kamiakin quarterback Zach Borisch said. “These guys always play us tough. We wanted to play fast and hammer them from the start.”
Kennewick suffered its third consecutive loss and fell to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the MCC.
The Braves were up by three touchdowns before Kennewick managed a first down.
Kamiakin scored immediately on Smith’s 53-yard gallop and, after Kennewick failed to gain a yard on its first possession, went right back to the end zone when Smith ran it in from 12 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Lions couldn’t handle the short kick, and Kamiakin had the ball right back. The Braves scored less than 2 minutes later when Borisch hit Darreon Moore on a 9-yard pass play as the lead grew to 21-0.
“I was a little nervous tonight,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “We played such an emotional game with Richland; it was tough on our kids. I didn’t know how we would respond.”
Despite getting off to a slow start, the Lions fought back. Kennewick, coming off a loss to Hanford, cut the margin to 30-14 early in the second quarter on a Blake Loftus touchdown catch. The Lions forced a turnover on the Braves’ next possession but failed to score.
After holding Kamiakin’s potent offense in check again, the Lions were back on offense looking to cut into the lead. However, on the second play of the drive, Smith jumped in front of an AJ Templeton pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to push the margin to 37-14 late in the first half.
“Our defense did a great job tonight,” Biglin said. “We let them back in the game a little, but our defense came up with some big plays.”
The Braves forced three turnovers in the game and held the Lions to 103 yards of total offense in the first half.
The lead stretched to 57-14 before Templeton broke off a 70-yard TD run to cap the scoring. His 92 rushing yards accounted for nearly half of the team’s offensive output.
Meanwhile, Jethro Questad ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries to fuel the Braves’ offense, and Borisch added 93 yards on 10 carries. The Kamiakin QB also completed 16 of 25 throws for 191 yards.
Finding a rhythm
As hard as both teams tried to get into a flow offensively, it didn’t happen. Just when they thought they made a great defensive play, it wasn’t. The reason: penalties.
The teams combined for 24 penalties — not counting the times when there were offsetting penalties or the ones that were declined — for 268 yards.
Ka — Benson Smith 53 run (Garrett Paxton kick)
Ka — Smith 12 run (Paxton kick)
Ka — Darreon Moore 9 pass from Zach Borisch (Paxton kick)
Ke — Emmanuel KuKu 34 pass from AJ Templeton (Emilio Ramos kick)
Ka — Safety
Ka — Borisch 33 run (Paxton kick)
Ke — Blake Loftus 5 pass from Templeton (Ramos kick)
Ka — Smith 39 interception return (Paxton kick)
Ka — Jethro Questad 7 run (Paxton kick)
Ka — Smith 12 pass from Borisch (Paxton kick)
Ka — Questad 8 run (kick failed)
Ke — Templeton 70 run (kick failed)
RUSHING — Ka, Questad 21-100, Borisch 10-93, Smith 5-68. Ke, Ronny Loomis 10-18, Templeton 12-92.
PASSING — Ka, Borisch 16-25-2-191. Ke, Templeton 6-22-2-80.
RECEIVING — Ka, Questad 4-80, Smith 4-23, Moore 2-16, Isaiah Brimmer 3-30. Ke, Loftus 4-47, KuKu 1-34.