After struggling in the first half Friday, the Kamiakin offensive line was challenged to do better.
The Braves rushed for just 23 yards in the first 24 minutes, getting dominated up front by the Kennewick defense.
But after coach Scott Biglin challenged his seniors, they responded and they did so quickly.
Running back Umid Ramizov scored on an 88-yard run on the Braves’ first play of the second half to blow open a tight game as Kamiakin defeated rival Kennewick 36-6 in a Mid-Columbia Conference game at Lampson Stadium.
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“Kennewick was kicking our butts,” Biglin said of the point of attack. “We asked them how do you want to go out? This could be your last game against Kennewick — and then Umid hit the big 80-yarder.”
The Braves will host University High at 8 p.m. Friday at Lampson Stadium in a Class 3A state play-in game.
Kennewick will play Shadle Park at 8 p.m. Friday at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane in another play-in game.
Ramizov rushed for just 23 yards in the first half on nine carries, constantly getting hit at the line of scrimmage.
But on his first touch in the third quarter, he took the ball left, went through the line and cut back on a linebacker, outracing the defense down the sideline for a 22-0 lead.
“We had to get things going,” he said. “When the line stepped up, it made things happen.
“In the first quarter, we went to soft thinking it would be an easy game. The second half we stepped up big.”
Ramizov finished with 148 yards, giving him the league rushing title at 1,269 for the season.
The Braves then put the game out of reach thanks to freshman Darreon Moore.
First Moore ended a Kennewick drive with an interception, but the Braves offense didn’t do much with it, being forced to punt. But Kennewick’s Dwight Norwood dropped the ensuing kick and Moore recovered at the 3.
Two plays later, Ramizov punched it from 2 yards out, scoring his third touchdown of the night.
“At halftime our run game was really off,” Ramizov said. “We knew we had to step that up or it would be ugly otherwise.”
Ramizov and the line did just that, helping Kamiakin finish the regular season on a three-game winning streak and set them up for a potential deep playoff run.
“We are feeling real good,” Biglin said. “Kennewick always gives us fits and we knew coming in it would be a hard-fought battle.”
The Lions moved the ball successfully in the first half, but the Kamiakin defense always held, not allowing the Lions to get into the red zone.
The bend-don’t-break defense is a staple for Kamiakin and it was used to perfection Friday, as the Braves only allowed the one touchdown.
Kamiakin also recorded two sacks and forced the two turnovers, as Dylan Keech had a monster game from the linebacker spot.
Kamiakin also held Kennewick’s Norwood to just 68 yards rushing on 24 carries.
“The Norwood kid runs hard, but our guys stayed in,” Biglin said. “We have up some yards, but buckled down once they got down in the goal line (area).”
Kamiakin quarterback Kylle Robertson finished 11-of-23 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Hunter Shauers and Sterling Farrah on scoring passes.
Kennewick’s Matthew Driver was 11-of-23 for 179 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Dylan Tennancour had seven receptions for 161 yards.