KENNEWICK -- It was a crowning night for the Kamiakin Braves, even if it wasn't a polished performance.
Then again, good teams know an ugly win counts the same as a flawless one.
Zach Umemoto ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns, the last two slamming down like hammer blows to Hanford's upset hopes, and the Braves held off a physical Falcons squad 28-14 on Thursday night.
The win under the lights at Lampson Stadium locked up at least a piece of a second consecutive CBBN 3A title for the Braves (8-0, 6-0) and the top seed heading into the playoffs.
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"It's a good feeling," said Umemoto, drenched after a 28-carry night. "We just want to go back to the state (championship) game like last year."
The Braves -- ranked fourth in the state -- took advantage of three Hanford fumbles, all of which led to touchdowns, including K Perrins' 29-yard TD catch from Jason Hutchison in the first quarter after the Falcons gave back a Kamiakin fumble.
But the most costly was the last, coming early in the fourth quarter and the Falcons (3-5, 3-3) hip deep in a game many didn't expect to be this close.
Isaac Benard had just pulled the Falcons even at 14-all on a thrilling 91-yard run. The sophomore back tore through one tackler trying to strip the ball, then found nothing but green turf in front of him.
Kamiakin came back and drove 76 yards -- 47 of that on a hookup between Jesse Houser and Hutchison -- to the Hanford 4.
Umemoto plowed down to the 1 on his first carry, but the door slammed shut on the next two, with Falcons linebacker Cody Baldowski making a big hit on third down.
The third quarter ended, and the teams changed ends. It seemed to change the fortunes for Kamiakin, with Umemoto diving over the goal line on fourth down for the go-ahead score.
"I just had to keep driving," said Umemoto, who topped 900 yards rushing on the season. "I can't let them take me down on fourth down. If we didn't score, who knows what happens."
Hanford started its next possession on the 31 and moved out to the 43 on Tyler Sanchez's 12-yard counter. But two plays later, the Falcons' third fumble of the night put Kamiakin in position to seal the deal. And that they did, with Umemoto finally strolling in untouched from a yard out on one of his few easy carries.
"We're killing ourselves," said Hanford senior lineman Jared Miller. "We shot ourselves in the foot. That's on us, and it's nothing we can't fix."
Hutchison finished 10-for-20 for 195 yards for Kamiakin. Benard led the Falcons with 144 yards on the ground. However, nearly half of Hanford's offense came on that long touchdown. The Falcons' other score, a 1-yard QB sneak by Austin Forsyth, came after an errant pitch set the visitors up 19 yards from pay dirt.
The Falcons could have clinched the fourth and final spot in the 3A playoffs. Now, they'll have to wait for next week's game at Sunnyside.
And, coach Rob Oram said, they'll have to play better.
"We played with great effort, we played very physical," he said, "but I don't think we necessarily played well."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kamiakin 28, Hanford 14
Hanford 0 7 7 0 -- 14
Kamiakin 7 7 0 14 -- 28
K--K Perrins 29 pass from Jason Hutchison (Corey McLean kick)
H--Austin Forsyth 1 run (Will Bishop kick)
K--Zach Umemoto 18 run (McLean kick)
H--Isaac Benard 91 run (Bishop kick)
K--Umemoto 1 run (McLean kick)
K--Umemoto 1 run (McLean kick)
RUSHING--H, Benard 17-144, Bishop 4-18, Tyler Sanchez 1-12, Brandon Reeves 2-5, Forsyth 5-2, Team 4-(minus 8). K, Umemoto 28-171, Cody Wilmoth 4-11, Team 5-(minus 19).
PASSING--H, Forsyth 4-14-1--30. K, Hutchison 10-20-0--195.
RECEIVING--H, Marquise Green 1-16, Josh Tayamen 1-10, Kyle Lafon 1-7, Benard 1-(minus 3). K, Brandon Larson 3-42, Jesse Houser 2-78, McLean 2-16, Perrins 1-29, Andrew Castillo 1-23, Umemoto 1-7.
FIRST DOWNS--H 6, K 18. FUMBLES-LOST--H 4-3, K 2-2. PENALTIES-YARDS--H 4-30, K 6-50.