The Kennewick Lions opened Mid-Columbia Conference football play Thursday night by displaying patience, poise and grit.
Getting three turnovers and turning them into touchdowns doesn’t hurt, either.
The Lions used those three touchdowns and a late Ronnie Loomis 6-yard TD run to hold off the visiting Walla Walla Blue Devils 39-36 at Lampson Stadium.
Kennewick had an early 6-0 lead. But with 7:49 left in the first quarter, Wa-Hi’s Mitch Lesmeister connected with Carter Davis for a 23-yard touchdown pass and a 7-6 edge.
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The Blue Devils got up 21-6 at one point and held the lead through the first three quarters.
The Lions answered with back-to-back scores — a 10-yard Loomis run and a 2-yard run by Lions quarterback Dillon Plew.
Finally, by early in the fourth quarter, Plew ran in from the 2 for another touchdown and a 32-29 Kennewick lead.
The lead changed hands again when Brennan Barberich scored from 3 yards out for the Blue Devils and a 36-32 lead with 7:21 to play.
Plew, however, marched the Lions 70 yards on the ensuing drive, culminating with Loomis’ 6-yard TD run — his third touchdown of the night — with 4:41 to play.
“I was just thinking I had to get into the end zone,” Loomis said. “Our line, they do a great job up front.”
The Lions’ big front continued to wear down the Blue Devils’ defense as the game went on. There were many times where Loomis wasn’t touched until five yards downfield.
The Blue Devils could get no closer than the Kennewick 25 the rest of the way, and the Lions improved to 1-0 in MCC play, 2-1 overall.
Turnovers are killer
Plew intercepted one pass, while Devyn Edward also had a pick for the Lions. And Austin Albertin recovered a loose ball on a kickoff.
In all three instances, the Lions would turn those Wa-Hi mistakes into touchdowns.
“You can’t have three turnovers and expect to win the game,” Walla Walla coach Eric Hisaw said. “We needed to take care of the rock.”
Kennewick’s Plew continues to improve
Plew engineered three consecutive scoring drives in the second half to get the Lions first back in the contest, then take the lead.
“We were expecting a low-scoring game,” Plew said. “But we just had to go out there and play our game.”
Patience and not forcing the issue was key, said Kennewick coach Bill Templeton.
“Our running backs started to pick it up,” Templeton said. “And Dillon, this is only his third game at quarterback.”
K — Ronnie Loomis 10 run (kick failed)
WW — Carter Davis 23 pass from Mitch Lesmeister (Bryar Jensen kick)
WW — Davis 9 pass from Lesmeister (Jensen kick)
WW — Brennan Barberich 41 run (Jensen kick)
K — Loomis 10 run (kick failed)
K — Dillon Plew 2 run (Emilio Ramos kick)
WW — Davis 2 pass from Lesmeister (Bryant Romero run)
K — Blake Loftus 17 pass from Plew (Ramos kick)
K — Plew 2 run (snap fumbled)
WW — Barberich 3 run (Jensen kick)
K — Loomis 6 run (Ramos kick)
RUSHING — WW, Noah Porter 14-97, Barberich 10-93, Lesmeister 12-75, Sam Hoe 1-11. K, Loomis 27-136, Isaac Ruiz 16-56, Plew 6-18.
PASSING — WW, Lesmeister 11-18-2-123. K, Plew 12-19-0-180.
RECEIVING — WW, Davis 6-53, JC Wicklund 4-55, Porter 1-15. K, Loftus 6-113, Andrew Townsend 3-28, Devyn Edward 2-28, Keyshawn Owens 1-11.