The Kennewick Lions are playoff bound.
In what amounted to a winner-take-all game with the Hanford Falcons on Friday night, the Lions used a big first quarter and capitalized on several Falcons’ miscues on their way to a 47-28 victory at Fran Rish Stadium.
Kennewick (4-5, 3-4 Mid-Columbia Conference) advances to the Class 3A regionals and will play Mount Spokane next Friday night for a berth into the state playoffs. The Lions earn the second seed thanks to winning two of their final three regular-season games.
Hanford, meanwhile, watches a promising start to its first season under coach Brett Jay fizzle down the stretch, losing its final four games to finish 4-5 overall and 2-5 in league play. The Falcons will play a nonleague crossover game at home next Friday night.
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Staying the Course
It appeared about a month ago, the Lions’ playoff hopes were derailed with a 36-35 loss at Pasco. The Bulldogs scored on the final play of regulation and then converted a 2-point conversion to pull out the win. That win turned out to be the Bulldogs’ only regular-season victory.
The following week, Kennewick was beat up by league champion Richland.
But the Lions had enough down the stretch to get back to a do-or-die game in the final regular-season game. Kennewick beat Southridge 14-3 two weeks ago for its second league win. Then after Kennewick and Hanford lost last week, it was a one-game playoff on the season’s final weekend.
Hanford has been a notorious slow starting team this season. However, that was not the case Friday night.
The Falcons scored two touchdowns within seconds of each other midway through the first quarter to grab a 14-7 lead. The only problem this night was Kennewick started faster. Trailing by seven, the Lions scored 16 straight points to lead 23-14 at the end of the first quarter.
After a safety got it to 14-9, Ronny Loomis scored on a 24-yard run with 1:41 left in the first quarter to give the Lions a 16-14 advantage.
Kennewick squeezed another touchdown in before the end of the first half when Raymond Gutierrez shed the Hanford defense on his way to a 33-yard scoring run.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
The Hanford Falcons had six of them: three interceptions and three lost fumbles. And to only have six was fortunate. The Falcons fumbled the ball seven times in the game, but were fortunate to recover four of those.
Despite all of the turnovers, Kennewick only converted two of the six turnovers into touchdowns.