Kennedy Catholic bests Skyline 38-10
By Chuck Mingori
The Kennedy Catholic Lancers started slow Friday night but bounced back quickly with a 38-10 victory over the Skyline Spartans at Highline Memorial Stadium in state playoff football action.
The impressive win advanced Kennedy into the semifinals of the 2022 Football Washington State Championships. The Lancers (11-1) will play Emerald Ridge (10-2) Saturday, Nov. 26 at a neutral site with a chance to play for the 4A state title. Emerald Ridge advanced after upsetting Chiawana last Saturday 40-37.
Trailing Skyline 10-0 to start the second quarter, Mason Hayes ignited a Kennedy rally with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown. That score and two-point conversion run by sophomore running back Indy Jones shaved the deficit to 10-8 with 11:49 to play in the second quarter.
Stellar defensive play by JoJo Paaga contributed when he made a big tackle for loss on the next series as the Spartans had to punt after recovering an onside kick.
Pinned back at the Kennedy 28 looking at third and 12, quarterback Devon Forehand found Hayes open on a deep pass play down the right sideline to put the Lancers on the Skyline 20.
Xe’Ree Alexander broke free on a 15-yard run and then crossed the goal line from four yards out. He also added two points on the conversion run, which brought the score to 16-10 in Kennedy’s favor with just under seven minutes left in the first half.
Strong defensive pressure from the Lancers on Skyline’s quarterback forced a punt. That started a drive from midfield, ending in a 25-yard touchdown run by Alexander, his second of four touchdowns in the game. The run failed, but the Kennedy lead stood at 22-10 with 2:50 left in the half.
Although Kennedy lost the ball four times on interceptions in the first half alone, the Lancers would not be denied.
Zeke Taliauli stepped up big for the Kennedy defense with a fumble recovery on Skyline’s first second-half possession. An apparent run for a score by Hayes on offense was nullified by a penalty and the Spartans halted the drive on fourth down. But after a big loss on a sack by Taliauli, Skyline punted as well.
Directing the Lancer Air Raid offense, Forehand found Maclane Watkins for 14 yards on a passing play. After two runs by Alexander, Forehand hit wide receiver Mason Moriarty on a slant for 13 yards. Alexander reached paydirt from 12 yards out, and then Hayes added two points on the conversion run as the lead grew to 30-10.
The Spartans, on fourth and four at the Lancer 30, turned the ball over when Taliaui forced a quick, incomplete pass.
A short punt by Kennedy gave Skyline good field position at its 47. The Spartans threatened to score moving the ball down to the 12. But two plays later, Derek Coleman-Brusa laid a hard hit on the Skyline quarterback. Taliauli scooped up the fumble and returned it to the Kennedy 42.
Staying on the ground while using its Wing-T offense, the Lancers churned out yardage on the ground. A reverse run of 18 yards by Moriarty moved the ball to the 19. Alexander reached the end zone from eight yards and the two-point conversion pass from Hayes to Jones was good.
Nate Barnes’ interception with 54 seconds left ended the Spartans’ final possession and season. Skyline, the first-place finisher in the KingCo District, finished with an 8-3 season record, including playoff wins over Mount Rainier and Federal Way.