The Braves from Kennewick beat the two-time defending state champion Crusaders 30-27 in the Class 3A state semifinals.
BOTHELL — It took a fortunate bounce of the ball and a team with more determination to keep Eastside Catholic from its fifth consecutive appearance in the Class 3A state-championship game.
Kamiakin of Kennewick went in front for good with a stroke of good fortune.
Senior quarterback Zach Borisch’s used a tipped-pass touchdown and also found Isaiah Brimmer for a 14-yard touchdown with 10:44 left in the game, and that was enough to subdue the two-time defending Class 3A state champion Crusaders 30-27 on Saturday in the state semifinals at Pop Keeney Stadium.
The Braves (11-2) rallied from a 10-point, late third-quarter deficit to keep Eastside Catholic (11-2) from its customary place in the title tilt.
“Our expectations are to win state every year,” EC coach Jeremy Thielbahr said. “It’s tough. I just want to make sure these seniors look back on this journey the way I look back on their journey. They have grown in love, showing leadership and togetherness.
“And, sometimes when you lose one you expect to win, and want to win, that goes away. I just talked to all them and said, ‘I love you. I’m proud of you.’ Our kids played hard.”
The Crusaders had possession of the ball twice in the final 10:44, but they couldn’t get out of its own end of the field. Brimmer’s interception of a Ze’Shaun Lewis pass in Kamiakin territory with 1:14 left effectively ended EC’s chances.
“We’ve had a lot of great tests,” Thielbahr said. “This team was battle-tested. We just lost one. That happens.”
Junior Benson Smith hauled in Borisch’s 17-yard pass — which was tipped by EC’s Jonathan Kvech — and stepped into the end zone for a touchdown to cut the Crusaders’ lead to 27-24 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
Borisch led the Braves’ offensive attack, factoring into all four touchdowns with 333 yards of total offense. Borisch rushed 23 times for 165 yards and two TDs and completed 11 of 23 passes for 168 passing and two more TDs.
The Crusaders were led by the 207 yards of total offense from senior running back Chris Lefau, who had nine catches for 190 yards and a touchdown. Lefau didn’t practice all week and was playing with a bruise on his heel.
“Chris was playing through pain; he’s beat up,” Thielbahr said. “We’ve got guys playing through pain. We had (University of Washington commit) Hunter Bryant playing through a knee injury. Our kids love each other and they laid it out for each other. I’m honored to lead this program and those guys.”
Lewis finished 19 of 41 passing for 271 yards and one TD and one interception. Bryant caught six passes for 73 yards.