KENNEWICK -- It was Southridge's homecoming Friday night at Lampson Stadium. But that's about all the Kennewick Lions were willing to let the Suns celebrate.
Drew Loftus ran for three scores and threw for two more and Shaun Smith had 31/2 sacks as Kennewick took the air out of Southridge's big night with a 35-14 CBBN 3A victory.
"After I got those first two sacks, that pumped up our team," said Smith, whose pressure on Matt Mendenhall on back-to-back plays killed off the Suns' third drive. "The adrenaline rush is crazy. You always want it to feel this way. It's a privilege to play for the Lions."
The win puts Kennewick ahead of the curve with the playoffs around the bend. The Lions (6-2, 4-2 CBBN 3A) clinched the third of four seeds into the postseason.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Southridge (3-5, 3-3) locked up the final berth when Pasco (2-6, 2-4) lost 35-19 to West Valley (2-6, 1-5).
Kennewick sacked Mendenhall four times and had plenty more hits on the junior quarterback, who hung in to throw for 270 yards -- 181 of that after the half.
Smith and Tyler Morfin came quick off the ends and Ivan Diaz heavy in the middle, allowing Xavier Campos and the rest of the linebackers to make plays.
"Coach told us they were going to pass," Smith said. "They're No. 1 (passing in the league). Their quarterback is a really good athlete, and it's really fun to play with him."
Mendenhall directed a pair of scores in the fourth quarter -- one a 70-yard catch and run by Josh Richards and the other a 4-yard jaunt by Chris Haueter -- both times pulling Southridge within two TDs.
Mikey Sanchez made a pair of acrobatic grabs on the sideline, including a 26-yarder to set up Haueter's score.
But the Suns, playing catchup almost from the start, never got within striking distance.
"I really thought we would win the game," said Mendenhall, who completed at least two passes to six different receivers. "We just needed to get a stop and a quick touchdown, and we got a chance."
The quick score came, but the stop never followed, thanks in large part to Loftus, who answered both TDs with scoring runs of his own. The senior quarterback finished with 184 yards on the ground and 100 in the air. He accounted for 195 of the Lions' 230 yards in the first half as they went up 21-0.
"They got us up front pretty good," said Suns coach Tony Reiboldt. "We lacked execution on both sides of the ball. We had the opportunity to make two interceptions in the first half and just did not make play, and their guys did."
Loftus, a powerful runner at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, had some monumental collisions with Southridge backer Chance White, who had a big day of his own with 51/2 of his team's seven tackles for loss.
But the Suns, missing their defensive quarterback in linebacker Caleb Osborne (concussion) for a second straight week, just couldn't contain the many Kennewick weapons.
The Lions had 290 yards on the ground, benefiting from the tough running of Grant Woods (48 yards) and the return of running back Zak Albertin (49 total yards and a TD) from a deep thigh bruise that sidelined him the last three weeks.
With Kennewick's defense limiting the Suns to 39 yards on the ground -- they lost 25 yards in sacks -- Southridge simply couldn't catch up.
"I can't say enough about what Coach (Jason) Slagle has done, he and his defensive staff. Their system is simple: They put players in position to make plays."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; email@example.com
Kennewick 35, Southridge 14
Kennewick 7 14 0 14 -- 35
Southridge 0 0 0 14 -- 14
K--Reggie Clinton 12 pass from Drew Loftus (Paul Martinez kick)
K--Loftus 6 run (Martinez kick)
K--Zak Alberton 3 run (Martinez kick)
S--Josh Richards 70 pass from Matt Mendenhall (Chandler Mertens kick)
K--Loftus 2 run (Martinez kick)
S--Chris Haueter 4 run (Mertens kick)
K--Loftus 10 run (Martinez kick)
RUSHING--K, Loftus 26-184, Grant Woods 10-48, Alberton 10-26, Devven Ramos 3-28, Trek Stemp 1-5, Bodie Simpson 1-(minus 1). S, Haueter 5-32, Dallin Palmer 5-23, Mendenhall 6-(minus 16).
PASSING--K, Loftus 9-19-1-100, Alberton 0-1-0-0. H, Mendenhall 21-38-1-270.
RECEIVING--K, Clinton 3-35, Simpson 3-25, Ramos 2-17, Alberton 1-23. S, AJ Henderson 8-71, Mikey Sanchez 4-61, Haueter 4-22, Dallas Jones 3-29, Richards 2-79, Palmer 2-8.
FIRST DOWNS--K 19, S 13. FUMBLES-LOST--K 0-0, S 0-0. PENALTIES-YARDS--K 5-50, S 7-62.