The Peninsula Seahawks went into Memorial Stadium in Seattle on Friday, Nov. 11, and gave the O’Dea Fighting Irish all they could handle. But a couple of long runs late in the game sealed the Seahawks’ fate in a 42-28 season-ending loss.
Third-ranked O’Dea (9-1) took a 6-0 lead with a short touchdown run on its opening drive. Peninsula (8-3), seeded 14th, answered right away with a 51-yard kickoff return by senior Brady Laybourn. Senior quarterback Payton Knowles then hit Laybourn in the flat, and he mowed over a defender for a 7-yard touchdown reception. Frankie Cross drilled the extra point and the Seahawks led, 7-6.
O’Dea has a huge offensive line and their running backs followed their blocks on a six-play, 59-yard drive for a touchdown. They got the two point conversion on a nice catch and extension by their tight end and the score was 14-7.
Pennsula’s football season came to an end Friday, Nov. 11, in a hard-fought playoff loss to Seattle power O’Dea. Bryce Carithers
Peninsula discovered running against O’Dea’s stout defensive line would be tough, so Knowles found senior Isaac Smith on a bubble screen and the north-south runner sprinted up the sideline for 30 yards.
The Seahawks were stopped and lined up in punt formation, but head coach Ross Filkins called for a timely fake. Knowles, also the Seahawks’ punter, found Smith with a pass for a 26-yard gain to the Irish 20 yard line. Peninsula had shown that they were going to try to score by any means necessary, but couldn’t get any further on the drive.
O’Dea answered with a 79-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-7. Peninsula came back with productive drives capped by Cross field goals of 35 and 22 yards. O’Dea led only 21-13 at halftime.
Peninsula’s Frankie Cross attempts a kick during a game earlier this year. Cross hit two clutch field goals against O’Dea on Nov. 11 to keep the Seahawks within striking distance. Bryce Carithers
The O’Dea running game chewed up 51 yards in just three plays to open the second half, scoring again to take a 28-13 lead. The Fighting Irish rushed 48 times for 333 yards on the night. Their passing game was a non-factor, as they completed only 3 of 7 passes for 28 yards.
Peninsula came in without two talented running backs, junior Connor Burton and senior Aiden Lester, who suffered season-ending injuries. The Seahawks only rushed 14 times for 46 yards against the physical Irish.
The capable Knowles threw it 50 times, completing 32 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Knowles found receiver Dane Meddaugh on one of those completions for a 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown to pull the Seahawks within 28-21 in the third quarter. Meddaugh led all receivers with eight receptions for 120 yards with a TD.
O’Dea extended the lead to 35-21 on a short touchdown run shortly after. The key play for the Irish was an 80-yard run by Sirkeenan Hart.
Peninsula was stopped on downs on the next possession and O’Dea went back to the ground, hoping to seal the deal in the fourth quarter. The Seahawk defense needed a big play and got it when they forced a fumble by an Irish ball carrier. Linebacker Jones Stalker scooped the ball up and scored to pull the Seahawks back within seven at 35-28.
O’Dea and Peninsula went back and forth before the Fighting Irish’s bulk up front helped them put the game away with a 33-yard Hart touchdown. The victory sent O’Dea to the state quarterfinals. They will face Stanwood at Memorial Stadium this weekend.
Peninsula running back Isaac Smith looks for yardage in a game earlier this season. Bryce Carithers
Other Seahawk standouts included senior Smith, who had 91 total yards from scrimmage; senior Laybourn, who caught eight passes with 128 all purpose yards and a TD; and junior running back Landon Watson, who caught all six balls thrown his way for 23 tough yards.
Peninsula’s interior lines have battled injuries all year and faced a significant size disadvantage against the Irish, but made up the difference with heart as they produced an all out effort against O’Dea.
The loss ends the gritty Seahawks’ season at 8-3, with the three losses against three of the state’s best in Yelm, Enumclaw and O’Dea. Those three teams have a combined record of 28-1.
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Seahawk coach Filkins praised his seniors’ efforts after the game.
“I can’t say enough about the effort and leadership that our seniors provided this season,” Filkins said. “We only had 13 seniors, but they each did an incredible job of setting an example for our underclassmen. Our team went through a lot this year and the perseverance they demonstrated was amazing.”
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