Two weeks ago, after getting shellacked by Chiawana 37-0, Kennewick Coach Randy Affholter said his team needed to get back to the basics, like learning how to practice the right way.
Somewhere along the way, the Lions bought in. It showed on Friday night, as Kennewick trounced visiting Kamiakin 42-18 in a Mid-Columbia Conference football game at Lampson Stadium.
“We started coming out and getting better in practice,” said Affholter, whose team improves to 3-1 in MCC play.
“Tonight, our goal was to control the football as much as possible.”
They certainly did.
The Lions held the ball for 30 minutes and 15 seconds; the Braves for just 17:45.
What that did was force Kamiakin out of running the ball with star tailback Tuna Altahir (he had 12 carries for 37 yards rushing) and into a passing game – that, while it clicked last week in a 55-41 win over Hanford, could not find a rhythm against the Lions.
Kennewick’s defense harassed Kamiakin sophomore QB Henry Mercado from the outset, putting pressure on him so he couldn’t get comfortable in the pocket and was forced to throw on the run.
The Lions’ D had five pass breakups, a pass batted down, a cover, two QB sacks, two more tackles for losses, and a forced fumble.
Kennewick led from the outset, when quarterback Blaine Chavez found a wide open Bryson Knapik for a 9-yard touchdown.
Chavez finished with three TD passes (one each to Knapik, Simeon Howard and Max Mayer), and he scored another.
But it was the Lions’ rushing game that did a lot of damage. Sophomore running back Myles Mayovsky carried the ball 30 times for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns.
And while Mayovsky did a yeoman’s job, it was that big Lions offensive line – tackles Baiden McElroy and Baylor McElroy, guards Ethan Mabbitt and Austin Schoffstall, and center Alex Fouts – that controlled the line of scrimmage.
At times, Mayovsky wouldn’t get touched by a Kamiakin defender until he was 4 yards downfield.
“Up front, our guys just moved the line,” said Chavez.
Kaleb Stevenson, Kennewick’s standout linebacker who also got to carry the football a few times, agreed.
“We just fell forward,” he said.
Even Kamiakin Coach Scott Biglin was impressed with Kennewick’s line play.
“They just pushed up front,” Biglin said. “They did a great job.”
His Braves fall to 2-1 in MCC play, 3-1 overall.
Now they have to get ready to play a surging Pasco team (3-0 MCC, 3-1 overall) next week.
“I told our guys after the game ‘That’s life. You just got punched in the mouth. How do you respond?’” Biglin said. “Kennewick did everything we thought they would. They’re a good football team.”
Affholter called it a great response from the Chiawana loss, and it might have been the perfect practice week for every one of his Lions.
“Our Scout team did a great job at practice preparing us (for Kamiakin),” said Affholter.
Chavez said Kennewick is now ready to roll after that Week 2 stumble.
“We figured out our culture,” he said. “We overcame adversity.”
The contest certainly wasn’t a clean one. Officials tossed penalty flags 37 times for a total of 313 yards. The Lions were flagged 21 times for 185 yards. The Braves had 16 penalties for 128. … Chavez finished with 207 yards passing. Junior Elijah Tanner was Chavez’s favorite target, catching 4 passes for 94 yards. … DL Jagger Child’s led Kennewick with 5 tackles (one for loss), and a pass batted down. Stevenson also had five tackles. … Because they were out on the field so long, Kamiakin’s defensive players had some bigger numbers. Altahir had 7 tackles and a pass breakup from his safety position. DB Aidan Leonard added 7 tackles and cover, while LB Kale Crawford had 6 tackles (one for loss) and a QB sack. … Kennewick travels to Davis in a non-league affair next Friday. Pasco visits Kamiakin next Friday.
LIONS 42, BRAVES 18
Kamiakin 6 0 6 6 -- 18
Kennewick 7 14 14 7 -- 42
SCORING PLAYS Ken – Bryson Knapik 9 pass from Blaine Chavez (Ethan Woolery kick)Kam – Tuna Altahir 3 run (kick failed)Ken – Simeon Howard 13 pass from Chavez (Woolery kick)Ken – Myles Mayovsky 2 run (Woolery kick)Kam – Woodley Downard 2 run (kick failed)Ken – Max Mayer 7 pass from Chavez (Woolery kick)Ken – Chavez 1 run (Woolery kick)Kam – Kelen Rutz 7 pass from Henry Mercado (snap fumbled)Ken – Mayovsky 3 run (Woolery kick)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING – Kam, Altahir 12-37, Mercado 7-14, Gilbert Marquez 3-11, Luis Salgado 2-9, Downard 1-2, Total 25-73. Kenn, Mayovsky 30-178, Woolery 5-18, Kaleb Stevenson 2-8, Chavez 6-2, Team 1-minus 6, Total 44-200. PASSING – Kam, Mercado 14-30-0-158. Kenn, Chavez 13-20-0-207. RECEIVING – Kam, Downard 4-74, Rutz 4-42, Niko Wiltz 2-21, Messiah Jones 2-14, Altahir 1-5, Salgado 1-2. Kenn, Elijah Tanner 4-94, Howard 3-55, Jonah Wilcott 1-21, Mayer 3-20, B,Knapik 1-9, Nathan Moses 1-8. FIRST DOWNS – Kam 15, Kenn 23. PENALTIES-YARDS – Kam 16-128, Kenn 21-185. FUMBLES-LOST – Kam 1-0, Kenn 2-0.
PASCO 16, RICHLAND 14
For the first time since before Chiawana High School opened to split up Pasco High School, the Pasco Bulldogs football team has started MCC play with a 3-0 record.
The Bulldogs beat visiting Richland on Friday by scoring all 16 of their points in the fourth quarter, with the biggest coming with 4:02 to play.
With the game tied at 7-7 and the Bombers forced to punt deep in their own territory, the ball was snapped past their punter and out of the end zone for a Pasco safety.
Now leading 9-7, the Bulldogs added another score when Des Licon took the free kick and ran it back 68 yards for a TD and a 16-7 Pasco lead.
Richland closed the gap to 16-14 when Bombers QB Harrison Westover hit Matt Robinson for a 19-yard TD pass.
But that was as close as Richland would get.
Pasco quarterback Armani Reyes finished with 199 yards passing, and Licon had 10 catches for 108 yards.
Westover passed for 204 yards for Richland, and Ben Fewel had another big night, catching 9 passes for 108 yards.
Chiawana 3-0 MCC, 3-1 overall
Pasco 3-0, 3-1
Kennewick 3-1, 3-1
Kamiakin 2-1, 3-1
Hanford 2-2, 2-2
Walla Walla 2-2, 2-2
Richland 1-2, 2-2
Hermiston 0-4, 0-4
Southridge 0-4, 0-4
Hanford 35, Southridge 6
Kennewick 42, Kamiakin 18
Pasco 16, Richland 14
Union 21, Chiawana 20
Walla Walla 14, Hermiston 3
Thursday, Oct. 3
All times 7 p.m.
Hermiston at Southridge, Lampson Stadium
Friday, Oct. 4
Hanford at Chiawana, Edgar Brown Stadium
Kennewick at Davis, Zaepfel Stadium
Pasco at Kamiakin, Lampson Stadium
Walla Walla at Richland
2A CWAC STANDINGS
Othello 1-0 CWAC, 2-2 overall
Ellensburg 1-0, 1-3
East Valley 0-0, 2-2
Quincy 0-1, 2-2
Ephrata 0-1, 0-4
Toppenish 1-0, 3-1
Prosser 1-0, 2-2
Grandview 0-0, 0-4
Selah 0-1, 1-3
Wapato 0-1, 1-3
East Valley 42, Grandview 7 (NL)
Ellensburg 18, Ephrata 7
Othello 23, Quincy 6
Prosser 38, Selah 0
Toppenish 64, Wapato 0
Friday, Oct. 4
All games are 7 p.m.
East Valley at Ellensburg
Ephrata at Othello
Prosser at Grandview
Quincy at Wapato (NL)
Selah at Toppenish
SCAC EAST STANDINGS
Kiona-Benton 2-0 SCAC, 3-1 overall
Connell 2-0, 2-2
Royal 1-0, 4-0
River View 1-1, 3-1
Warden 0-1, 2-2
College Place 0-2, 2-2
Wahluke 0-2, 2-2
Connell 35, Wahluke 0
Kiona-Benton 42, College Place 0
River View 33, Warden 18
Royal 55, Okanogan 7 (NL)
Friday, Oct. 4
All kickoffs at 7 p.m.
Connell at Naches Valley (NL)
Kiona-Benton at Wahluke
River View at College Place
Royal at Warden
EWAC 2B STANDINGS
Tri-Cities Prep 3-0 EWAC, 4-0 overall
Columbia-Burbank 2-0, 4-0
White Swan 2-0, 3-0
Liberty Christian 1-1, 1-3
Mabton 0-2, 2-2
Dayton/Waitsburg 0-2, 0-4
Kittitas-Thorp 0-3, 0-3
Liberty Christian def. Dayton/Waitsburg, score unavailable
Columbia-Burbank 34, Lind-Ritzville/Sprague/Washtucna/Kahlotus 13
Tri-Cities Prep 48, Mabton 14
White Swan 38, Kittitas-Thorp 6
Thursday, Oct. 3
Tri-Cities Prep vs. Rogers-Spokane, Joe Albi Stadium, 4:45 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 4
Columbia-Burbank at Liberty Christian, Hanford High, 7 p.m.
White Swan at Lake Roosevelt, 7 p.m.
Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor of the Herald.