KENNEWICK — A trick play isn’t an everyday thing. You use it when you need it, sometimes in the most dire of consequences.
The Kennewick Lions needed it — twice, in fact — Thursday night to pull out a 20-7 CBBN 3A win over the Sunnyside Grizzlies at Lampson Stadium.
“You always want to save those, but I felt we were stuck in the mud,” Lions coach Bill Templeton said after his team improved to 4-1 and 2-1 in the CBBN 3A.
Less than a week ago, Kennewick lost a 14-6 heartbreaker to Kamiakin on the same field, and the Lions knew a win would help close that wound.
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“I’m very proud of the kids. Last Friday was crazy,” Templeton said. “One of our words for the week was perseverance. We were mentally tough, and we battled through some things.”
Kennewick fought through a rough first quarter, going three-and-out on its first two drives and then wasted a 39-yard run by Grant Woods on the next drive, which ended with a punt from the Sunnyside 35.
But Woods came up with another big run of 48 yards to set up Kennewick’s first score. With 3:14 left in the half, Lions quarterback Bryce Leavitt handed off to Woods, who then flipped it back to Kaden Julian on a reverse. Julian stopped and hit Troy Fulton in the front of the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
Sunnyside scored on its next drive, which was set up with a 50-yard quarterback scramble by Eduardo Salmeron that put the Grizzlies at the Lions’ 22-yard line. Israel Manzo scored four plays later on an 8-yard run, and Sunnyside pulled ahead 7-6 with just 44 seconds left before halftime.
But Woods turned savior again, hauling in a 45-yard pass from Leavitt down the left sideline to put Kennewick back in scoring position with 18 seconds left. Woods accounted for seven first downs — six by rushing, one by receiving — and finished with 223 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Incredibly, he didn’t score a touchdown.
“I thought he deserved five touchdowns tonight,” Leavitt said. “But he’s more happy with a win.”
Two plays and 13 second later, the Lions still hadn’t punched it in. With one shot left from the 2-yard line, Templeton called for the reverse quarterback throwback, which required Leavitt to pitch the ball out to Chase Reining. Then, while Leavitt sprinted away from the play, Reining would fade back and hit him in the left flat.
Reining did just that. Problem was, Leavitt was still fronted by two defenders at the goal line.
“My first thought was, ‘I have to get the ball in the end zone,’ ” Leavitt said. “I knew I couldn’t run through them, so I jumped up and got flipped in.”
Leavitt passed to Bodie Simpson for the 2-point conversion, giving Kennewick a 14-7 lead and a big boost entering the locker room.
“I just did a really poor job at the end of the first half,” Grizzlies coach Mark Marro said. “I saw them bring the back out, and (Templeton) just beat me on a play call.”
Sunnyside was far from done, however. The Grizzlies were rolling into Lions territory with some momentum when Salmeron took the ball up the middle on a keeper. It looked like the play was over, but Kennewick defensive lineman Jarod Gonzales emerged from the scrum after picking up a fumble at the Lions’ 35-yard line.
“I thought the play was over. I went up to our cornerback to say, ‘Good job,’ but all of a sudden, Gonzales took off,” Woods said. “I ran down there with him just in case he fumbled.”
Gonzales didn’t fumble. In all likelihood, he might have secured the game right there. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior showed a good initial burst of speed before being caught from behind at the Sunnyside 34.
“I’m just not that fast,” Gonzales said with a smile.
Leavitt added a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to cap the scoring.
* Jack Millikin: 582-1406; email@example.com
Kennewick 20, Sunnyside 7
Sunnyside 0 7 0 0 — 7
Kennewick 0 14 6 0 — 20
K—Troy Fulton 12 pass from Kaden Julian (kick failed)
S—Israel Manzo 8 run (Manzo kick)
K—Bryce Leavitt 2 pass from Chase Reining (Bodie Simpson pass from Leavitt)
K—Leavitt 1 run (kick failed)
RUSHING—S, Ramon Hernandez 13-51, Manzo 8-64, Rudy Navarro 1-9, Jacob Ross 2-2, Eduardo Salmeron 9-36. K, Grant Woods 25-223, Leavitt 5-(minus 1), Darick Anderson 1-3, Simpson 1-(minus 5), Shaun Smith 4-8.
PASSING—S, Salmeron 5-16-0-40. K, Leavitt 7-10-0-55, Julian 1-1-0-12, Reining 1-1-0-2.
RECEIVING—S, Brandon Daley 1-3, Manzo 1-11, Joseph Contreras 1-24, Jacob Ross 2-2. K, Reining 2-(minus 3), Fulton 2-16, Simpson 2-9, Woods 2-45, Leavitt 1-5.
FIRST DOWNS—S 12, K 12. FUMBLES-LOST—S 1-1, K 1-1. PENALTIES-YARDS—S 3-20, K 4-35.