There was a lot of pregame talk in the Kennewick locker room about being a good teammate and stepping up and making plays.
Dwight Norwood was the first in a long line of Lions to heed the wishes of the coaches. Then it was Matthew Driver, followed by Dylan Tennancour. Then it was Alex Ruby. The list goes up and down the entire Kennewick roster.
A week after getting beat up by Richland, Kennewick took it shots at the other Richland school Friday night, in a surprisingly dominant 31-14 win over the Hanford Falcons at Fran Rish Stadium.
“I am proud of our guys,” said Lions coach Bill Templeton. “We came out and made plays tonight.”
The records for both teams indicated this should have been a close game.
Kennewick, coming off a 56-14 loss to Richland, was 0-4 in the Mid-Columbia Conference and its lone win of the season came against Sunnyside. Hanford, on the other hand, was 2-4 on the season with wins over Sunnyside and Pasco.
And when the final stats were totaled both teams were pretty equal. With the exception of one category: turnovers.
Hanford turned the ball over six times, including three costly ones in the first half as the Lions built a 31-0 lead less than five minutes into the second quarter.
“We knew we needed to get this game,” Norwood said. “We came out pretty hyped up; we knew we had to have this game.”
Norwood, as he has been all season, was a workhorse for Kennewick. The junior running back, who was slowed by a shin injury last week, used his hard-nosed, bruising style of running to get the Lions on the scoreboard early.
On the Lions first drive, he was the only Kennewick player to touch the ball aside from quarterback Driver. He accounted for all 59 yards on the drive that was capped by a one-handed, 8-yard touchdown catch.
Norwood finished the night with 28 carries for 129 yards.
Driver had a big first half as well. He completed six passes, three of them went for touchdowns. On the Lions second drive, he connected with Mark Driver for a 4-yard touchdown play as Kennewick led 14-0 with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
Then the Kennewick defense started to take over. Tennancour intercepted Aaron Enderlin, which set up a 28-yard field goal by Alvaro Licea. It was the first of three Tennancour interceptions in the game.
Two plays later, Cody Alberlin stripped quarterback Tucker Anderson, in the backfield and recovered the ball. Less than a minute later Matthew Driver hit a wide open Ruby for a 14-yard score. The barrage continued when Martin Allahir intercepted Anderson and returned it 40 yards for the score with 7:41 left in the first half a minute later.
“We made some plays early and that got our confidence going,” Templeton said.
It its six previous games this season Kennewick managed to score just 76 points. In less than 18 minutes it had scored 31, which was more than enough for its defense.
“We came out with more energy tonight and I think it showed,” Norwood said.
Kennewick 14 17 0 0 — 31
Hanford 0 14 0 0 — 14
K - Dwight Norwood 8 pass from Matthew Driver (Alvaro Licea kick)
K - Matt Driver 4 pass from Matthew Driver (Licea kick)
K - Licea 28 FG
K - Alex Ruby 14 pass from Driver (Licea kick)
K - Martin Altahir 40 interception return (Licea kick)
H - Elwood Davis 6 run (Daymien Marks kick)
H - Ben Kelly 45 pass from Aaron Enderlin (Marks kick)
Rushing—K, Norwood 28-129, Raymond Guitierrez 3-3, Dylan Tennancour 1-(minus-3), Driver 6-(minus-41), Cody Alberlin 4-3, Ruby 1-6; H, Malik Slack 2-3, Davis 3-4, Enderlin 3-1, Tucker Anderson 13-17.
Passing—K, Driver 8-13-1-66; H, Enderlin 5-24-4-101, Anderson 1-4-1-19.
Receiving—K, Norwood 2-20, Guitierrez 1-1, Mark Driver 1-4, Ruby 2-28, Brock Sittman 1-7, Drew Townsend 1-6; H, Tyler Cowen 3-62, Austin Kitchens 1-13, Kelly 1-45, Kendrick Skinner 1-26.