ROYAL - Inside linebacker Jack Diaz saw the ball laying there on the ground like a big, ol’ brown Easter egg, scooped it up on the Mt. Baker 15-yard line and rumbled 82 yards down the far sideline for the touchdown in the defining moment of Saturday afternoon’s 55-6 victory over No. 9 Mt. Baker in the 1A state quarterfinals at David Nielsen Stadium.
The Knights (12-0) defense came up with three pass interceptions and three fumble recoveries and ended the game on Tyler Allred’s second interception of the second half. They allowed just one first down in the first half, came up big one more time, highlighted by the 82-yard run by Diaz.
“I saw it come free and I just picked it up and started running. I’m thinking, ‘this is a long distance.’ I was tired at the end, but I just kept going” Diaz said. “I’m just glad somebody wasn’t chasing me down.
“Most of us play offense, so even when we’re on defense, we’re really on offense. We’re always pulling at the ball or attacking it in the air.”
The big news of the weekend came out of Maryland where the nation’s longest active winning streak ended at when Oakdale upended Damascus (53) in Maryland 2A playoff West final. The Damascus loss, combined with the Royal win means the No. 1 Knights are now tied for the longest winning streak in the country.
“We have two more games before we’ll even think about that,” Royal Hall of Fame coach Wiley Allred said. “But, I thought the defense played well again today, allowing just the one first down in the first half.”
The Mountaineers (8-5) had just 63 total yards in the first half with 43 of those coming on one play. Kobee Malone’s 43-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mason Jacoby made it a 13-6 ballgame minutes into the second quarter.
But the Knights put the throttle down and scored 42 unanswered, taking away any hope.
“The defensive line was just killin’ it today. They weren’t just staying on their man and letting the linebackers make the stops. They were making the tackles for a loss themselves,” said Diaz. “We all know our assignments because we’re changing it up every week. We’re making adjustments to what the other guys are doing week in and week out.
“The D-line was really something today. It all started with them.”
It’s not like the Knights, who went into the game averaging 5.65 point a contest, were standing idly by. Alonso Hernandez runsed for 84 of his game-high 161 yards in the first half. Hernandez carried 27 times and scored a touchdown. Sawyer Jenks was 18 for 32 for 263 passing with four passing touchdowns and one running.
On the receiving end, Angel Farias hauled in eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. Lorenzo Myrick finished with 45 yards on four catches.
In other action, No. 10 Newport upends No. 2 Zillah 7-6 to advance to the semifinals. No. 5 Colville put away No. 4 Meridan 42-22 to set up a run at the three-time state champions on Saturday.
Mt Baker 0 6 0 0 - 6
Royal 13 14 14 14 - 55
R - Owen Ellis 33 pass from Sawyer Jenks (kick fails
R - Javier Huitron (Osvaldo Guerrero kick)
MB - Kobee Malone 43 pass from Mason Jacoby (kick fails)
R - Alonso Hernandez 46 run (Guerrero kick)
R - Jenks 8 run (Guerrero kick)
R Angel Farias 14 pass from Jenks (Guerrero kick)
R - Cooper Christensen 8 pass from Jenks (Guerrero kick)
R - Tyler Allred 15 run (Guerrero kick)
R - Jack Diaz 85 fumble recovery (Guerrero kick)