PASCO The Sunnyside Christian football team is headed to its first-ever 1B State Football Championship game.
After dispatching Odessa, 62-22, at Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium on Saturday, the Knights have qualified to play Friday’s title match-up against Almira-Coulee-Hartline at 4 p.m. in the Tacoma Dome.
The first two possessions of the semi-final game against the Tigers were a draw as both sides were able to keep the offense from gaining much ground.
The Knights opened the game with an onside kick and recovered it on Odessa’s 46-yard line.
Kyler Marsh was able to make a 4-yard gain, but the Tigers backed him up two plays later. On fourth down, Josh Clark of Odessa nearly intercepted a pass intended for Luke Wagenaar.
The Tigers made better progress on their first possession thanks to a carry by quarterback Camden Wheeler and another by Gaven Elder, placing them on the 34-yard line. Two plays later, Elder had a 10-yard carry, but the Knights shut the progress down with a sack by Kyler Marsh after another two downs.
In the next Knights drive, the scoring commenced. It took 15 plays before Chance Marsh completed a pass to Wagenaar for the touchdown.
Odessa started the next drive on its own 48-yard line, and on the fourth play, Elder was handed the ball to score on the run.
The Knights answered quickly. Starting on the Tigers’ 46-yard line, a 7-yard pass to Lane Marsh, an 11-yard carry by Chance Marsh and a 28-yard pass to Wagenaar made it a 12-6 game.
The Tigers were stopped in their tracks on the next possession thanks to a sack by Lucas Dykstra of the Knights on fourth and 12.
The Knights took over on their own 25-yard line, and Wagenaar was left open deep in Odessa territory. Chance Marsh, on first down, threw the ball 75 yards. Wagenaar caught the pass and took it into the end zone.
The Tigers made several gains on their next possession, but Cade Bosma of the Knights was waiting not far from the 16-yard line when Odessa fumbled the ball. Bosma pounced on it to keep Odessa from scoring.
From their own 26-yard line, the Knights found the end zone after just six plays.
Chance Marsh didn’t spot an open receiver, kept the ball and carried it 12 yards for the touchdown. Lane Marsh caught the ball for the 2-point conversion to give the Knights a 26-6 lead.
The next series for the Tigers ended with an interception by Wagenaar on Odessa’s own 19-yard line, giving the Knights great field advantage.
Lane Marsh was the intended receiver on the first play, Chance Marsh was sacked on the 9-yard line, Josh Clark of the Tigers interrupted a pass intended for Wagenaar and the Knights found themselves in a fourth and 20 situation.
They tried to recover, but Kyler Marsh was taken down at the original line of scrimmage before Odessa took over.
Three plays later, a pass Marcus King resulted in a touchdown, narrowing the Knights lead to 26-14 with 2:03 in the half.
On the next set of downs, it was Chance Marsh who scored the touchdown. He crossed the goal line on a 1-yard scamper and Wagenaar caught the pass for the extra 2 points.
The Knights ended the half with a 34-14 lead.
The second half started with an illegal blocking call against Odessa, but the penalty was declined by the Knights, who found themselves starting the next drive on the Tigers 49-yard line.
Eight plays later, Lane Marsh found himself in the end zone for his only touchdown of the game. He scored on a 5-yard pass from Chance Marsh and Wagenaar caught the ball for the bonus points.
Chance Marsh scored the next touchdown for the Knights on a 1-yard carry, after Lane Marsh got the ball there on a catch.
The score was 48-14 in favor of the Knights with 2:33 in the third stanza.
Odessa went on the hunt before the quarter ended and scored its remaining touchdown.
Hunt found the end zone on a 15-yard catch and the Tigers got the extra 2 points to follow.
The Knights didn’t stop the momentum.
Lucas Dykstra found the end zone on one of his three catches and Lane Marsh added 2 points to the tally.
The next touchdown was scored by Kyler Marsh on a pass with 3:44 on the game clock.
The 2-point attempt by Lane Marsh was no good, and the Knights recovered an onside kick to account for the 62-22 final score.
“It was amazing,” Knights defender Eric Villalobos said of the win.
He was proud he, Bosma and Dykstra, the defensive linemen, were able to do their jobs well to hold off the Tigers.
Odessa coach Jeff Nelson credited the Knights. “They have too many weapons... it’s hard to defend against that.”
Knights coach Jeremy Thomas said his defenders centered around the run and kept the Tigers at bay.
“They are very well coached,” he said.
“The defensive line really stepped up,” Thomas said.
“It was a tough game,” Nelson said.