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From The Columbian, Written by Rene Ferran

Mayolo, La Center hold off Mount Baker in 1A quarterfinals

Wildcats advance to face Connell next week

WOODLAND — La Center spent the second half playing keepaway from Mount Baker.

It helped having Jeffrey Mayolo to carry the load.

Mayolo rushed for 184 yards on a career-high 36 carries Saturday night, with his final run the clinching 11-yard touchdown with 1:56 remaining to lift the No. 6 Wildcats to a 25-13 victory over No. 2 Mount Baker in the Class 1A state quarterfinals at Beaver Stadium.

“In all my years of sports, this is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Mayolo said. “We were going to try to spread the ball around, but in the end, we figured out something they couldn’t stop and kept pounding them.”

The Wildcats (11-1) will take on No. 3 Connell (11-1), a 56-21 winner over Meridian earlier in the day, in next weekend’s semifinals. Date and time are to be determined, although McKenzie Stadium or Doc Harris Stadium were likely locations.

“I’ve always wanted to practice over Thanksgiving,” said Mayolo after leading La Center to just its second semifinal appearance in school history. “I’d walk all over the field, there’d be frost on the grass, and I’d think that it’d be so great to practice in that. I’ll finally get that opportunity.”

The Wildcats had twice lost to Mount Baker in the quarterfinals, both in 2012 and 2013. In the 2013 game, the Mountaineers hung 63 points on La Center, and Mayolo and his fellow seniors had long memories.

“I remember that feeling. We were all just crying,” Mayolo said. “To finally get that revenge on Mount Baker, show them who’s boss, feels real good.”

The Wildcats led 19-13 at halftime, then held the ball for more than 18 1/2 minutes of the second half thanks to two long drives. But the Mountaineers (11-1) held on fourth down twice, including once at their 1-yard line, to keep the margin a one-possession game.

By holding the ball so long, though, La Center forced Mount Baker out of its powerful running game, and driving into a strong wind in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers passing game struggled.

Jeremy Scott, the Trico MVP, had a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter. On the first, he returned the ball 44 yards to the Mount Baker 11, setting up Mayolo’s clinching score one play later.

“I’d been burnt on a couple of balls earlier in the game, so I wanted to make sure to keep the play in front of me and not let them get deep,” said Scott, who also ran for a score and threw for another in the first half.

“On that first interception, I knew I had underneath help, so I just sat back and knew it was mine. I wanted to score and end the game right there.”

Mount Baker came in averaging almost 46 points per game, and it racked up 455 yards of total offense in a first-round win over Hoquiam. The Wildcats held the visitors to just 196 yards, with Clint Smith leading the way with six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

“Our defense was great today,” Scott said. “The only things we gave up were a couple of big plays, but we had confidence we could stop them and win the game with our defense.”

The Wildcats struck on their opening possession, taking over at the Mount Baker 48 after Jackson Leslie blocked a punt. Three players later, Scott hit Thomas Dreyer on a shovel pass that the junior turned into a 53-yard touchdown.

La Center made it 12-0 on the first play of the second quarter on Mayolo’s first touchdown, a 6-yard run. The Mountaineers answered quickly, with Kaleb Bass finding Thomas Barbo on passes of 34 and 29 yards, the latter making the score 12-6.

The Wildcats then chewed up almost eight minutes to go 83 yards in 14 plays, with Scott capping the drive with a 4-yard run with 2:10 left for a 19-6 lead.

Right before halftime, Bass hit Jed Schleimer on a 25-yard TD pass to close the gap to 19-13.

La Center finished with 336 yards of total offense and held the ball for almost 34 1/2 of the game’s 48 minutes.

“We knew we weren’t going to shut them completely down,” said LC coach John Lambert, who last led the Wildcats to the semifinals in 2003. “But we wanted to control the ball, keep their offense off the field, and our defense played a real inspired game tonight.”

LA CENTER 25, MOUNT BAKER 13

Mount Baker 0 13 0 0—13

La Center 6 13 0 6—25

First Quarter

LC — Thomas Dreyer 53 pass from Jeremy Scott (kick blocked)

Second Quarter

LC — Jeffrey Mayolo 6 run (run failed)

MB — Thomas Barbo 29 pass from Kaleb Bass (kick failed)

LC — Scott 4 run (Sean Fox kick)

MB — Jed Schleimer 25 pass from Bass (Jonathan Ehlers kick)

Fourth Quarter

LC — Mayolo 11 run (kick failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — MB, Schleimer 13-63, Carson Engholm 5-18, Bass 2-(minus 9), team 1-1. LC, Mayolo 36-184, Scott 7-38, Dreyer 6-21, Colton Dolezal 2-2, Evan Honore 1-11, team 3-(minus 3).

PASSING — MB, Bass 5-11-2-123. LC, Scott 4-5-0-83.

RECEIVING — Barbo 3-69, Schleimer 2-54. LC, Jake Wise 3-30, Dreyer 1-53.

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