Tomahawks' comeback falls one yard short — Marysville-Pilchuck loses to Auburn in wild state playoff game

Suli Tamaivena, 35, and Dane Widness, 22, force an Auburn fumble in the first half. - Photo courtesy RaVon Portraits
Suli Tamaivena, 35, and Dane Widness, 22, force an Auburn fumble in the first half.
— image credit: Photo courtesy RaVon Portraits

AUBURN — A game that featured seven lost fumbles, a blocked extra point and a recovered onside kick came down to a defensive stop with just minutes remaining in the first round of the class 4A state football tournament Nov. 13.

Previously undefeated Marysville-Pilchuck (10-1) had one last chance after recovering an onside kick with 4 minutes and 26 seconds, but fell one yard short of a first down on the Auburn 48-yard line before losing 25-22.

"We made too many mistakes to beat a team like that," said Tomahawks coach Brandon Carson. "It's frustrating because you know that's not the way we've played all year."

Although referring to the four turnovers — two of which resulted in Auburn scores — Carson could have said the same for his team's inability to move the ball on that last drive, as it racked up more than 350 yards rushing per game this season.

The second play — a 75-yard sprint by quarterback Zack Hanson — was just a microcosm of the game, as an Auburn defender was able to pop the ball loose just short of the goal line for a touchback.

The Tomahawks jumped all over the Trojans to the tune of 226 yards rushing with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, and a 15-0 lead. Marysville scored on a 31-yard field goal by Danny Stokes and on 48- and 9-yard runs by A.J. Kvangnes. The senior halfback finished with 112 yards on 15 carries.

Auburn responded, however, by returning a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown.

"They got a huge momentum swing with that fumble return, and that's unfortunate because our kids played very well that first half," Carson said.

Marysville's defense, which allowed just 84 yards in the first half, had more trouble stopping Auburn after the break. If the momentum didn't shift after the first fumble recovery, it certainly did after a Marysville fake field goal failed to end their first second-half possession on the 5-yard line. Auburn marched 95 yards downfield to tie the score at 15-15.

Auburn then scored another 10 points in just a few minutes by completing a short field goal and returning a second fumble 38 yards for a score.

Things then got interesting as the Tomahawks completed their only pass of the night for 39 yards en route to another Kvangnes touchdown and recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Junior tight end Jarrett Finau was pulled down by three Auburn defenders only one yard short on 4th and 10 after breaking two tackles. The failed fourth-down conversion ended Marysville's longest playoff run since 1989.

"It's kind of hard right now to reflect," Carson said. "Our kids played their butts off and that was a team that I know we could beat and we played like it for most of the game."

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