Postgame notes and stats — Skyline’s smothering defense was the difference here. Franklin Pierce led 14-6 before the Spartans (13-0)slammed the door shut. They scored three defensive touchdowns (two fumbles, one interception) and at one point held the Cardinals to minus-37 yards rushing in the second half, before the reserves stepped in.
After completing just one of his first five passes for 13 yards, sophomore QB Jake Heaps wound up with 12 completions in 21 tries for 163 yards and two TDs, one to Phil Tushar and one to Gino Simone, who also had the interception return for a score. Heaps, who was intercepted once, also scored on a pair of short runs. Tyler Washburn rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries.
For Franklin Pierce (12-1), QB Erich Armstrong completed nine of 19 passes for 78 yards with two touchdowns (both to Max Lutton) and two picks. He hit only two of his final 10 passes for minus-2 yards and was held to 14 yards rushing on 15 tries. Earl Fernandez had 10 carries for 37 yards. The Cardinals, back in the semifinals for the first time since 1982, netted just 57 yards rushing for the game.
It should be an entertaining championship game between Skyline and O’Dea. We’ll have all the details here Friday, with the kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
Back with final stats — About two minutes to go, still 48-14 Skyline. Going down for quotes. Back with some final stats and impressions.
Reserves take the field — Both teams have their reserves in on offense, which is why Skyline didn’t score after getting that great field position after the fumble. The Cardinals have five turnovers in this game, three fumbles and two interceptions. Skyline has turned three into immediate touchdowns. Closing in on four minutes left to play.
Skyline 48, Franklin Pierce 14 — Chalk up another defensive score for the Spartans. This time, the ball is snapped over the head of Erich Armstrong and a second-down play at the FP 23. Eric Biege pounces on it in the end zone for the touchdown. Another Jon Hardwick kick makes it 48-13 with 9:59 left in the game. Now the Cards fumble the kickoff and Skyline is back in business at the FP 19.
End of the third — It was a dominating third quarter by Skyline on both sides of the football as the put up 21 points and hold FP to minus-two yards rushing. The Spartans start the fourth with possession near midfield after a Robby Chavez interception.
Skyline 41, Franklin Pierce 14 — Jake Heaps scores on another short run (three yards) and the Spartans are running away with it. They’ve had great field position this entire half and have been playing exceptional defense. Less than three minutes remain in the third quarter.
Skyline 34, Franklin Pierce 14 — I’d say it’s pretty much over, although there’s still 6:57 left in the third quarter. Tyler Washburn strips Erich Armstrong, teammate Evan Bull picks up the fumble and runs 4 yards into the end zone for another quick TD. An unsportsman-like conduct call can’t prevent Jon Hardwick from booting the PAT through.
Skyline 27, Franklin Pierce 14 — Skyline has taken firm control. FP’s first possession of the half netted a negative 19 yards. Austin Olson punted from his own end zone. Phil Tusher picked it up on the bounce and returned it 17 yards to the 25. Jake Heaps winds up scoring on a 4-yard keeper and the conversion kick makes it 27-14 with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
Unofficial halftime stats — Skyline QB Jake Heaps completed only one of his first five passes, but then returned to form. During one stretch, he completed 9 of 10 passes for 119 yards, although the one incompletion was intercepted by Erich Armstrong. For the half, Heaps is 10 of 16 for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Washburn has carred 11 times for 48 yards and scored what could be a big two-point conversion. Gino Simone has scored on a nine-yard interception return and 26-yard pass.
Armstrong has gone the other route, starting strong, then cooling off. he completed seven of his first eight tosses for 80 yards and two TDs, both to Max Lutton, son of coach Howard Lutton. Simone had his pick during that stretch. But Armstrong missed on his final five passes of the half. He has carried six times for 26 yards. Earl Fernandez has 27 yards on eight tries.
Second-half kickoff coming up in a couple of minutes. FP gets the ball.
Halftime — Skyline definitely has the momentum, but blew an opportunity to add to its lead just before the half. The Spartans forced a three-and-out and Aram Mann, not FP’s normal punter, shanked the ball out of bounds at the Cardinals’ 29 with 1:43 left in the half– a 13-yard punt. Skyline couldn’t capitalize. On fourth-and-three, Jake Heaps looked for Kasen Williams, but the ball went off his finger tips as he dove back for it. It looked as though he would have been short of the first-down marker anyway. FP runs out the clock.
Skyline 20, Franklin Pierce 14 — Jake Heaps is heating up. He just hit a wide-open Phil Tushar in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass with exactly three minutes left in the half. Since the Erich Armstrong interception, he has completed five straight. Tyler Washburn runs for the two-point conversion and the Spartans take their first lead.
3:10 left in the half. Kasen Williams keeps a promising Skyline drive alive, breaking two tackles to get the first down after a short reception on third-and-14. Spartans have the ball at the FP 32.
Erich Armstrong is a menace on both sides of the football. Just when it looks as though Jake Heaps is going to hit an open Phil Tushar for a long gain — and maybe a touchdown — Armstrong leaps and makes a one-handed interception in front of him. FP gets the ball back at its own 15 and is driving.
Franklin Pierce 14, Skyline 12 — Simone steps up again for Skyline with a 26-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. He slipped away from a tackler at the 10 and zoomed into the end zone with 24 seconds on the first-quarter clock. The Spartans go for two, but Heaps is sacked by Kyle Bailey and they still trail. Quarter ends.
Franklin Pierce 14, Skyline 6 — Arstrong is working his magic. Directing traffic on a second-and-eight call from the Skyline 16, he rolled to his left and found Lutton again, this time in the back of the end zone. Mortensen’s kick makes it 14-6 with two minutes left in the quarter.
Franklin Pierce 7, Skyline 6 — Pinning FP deep pays off. On second-and-nine at the 2, Armstrong throws from the end zone, but Gino Simone plays it perfectly, picking it off at the 9 and returning it for a touchdown. But Vanderwulp’s conversion kick missed and the Cards are still up by a point.
Skyline struggles early. Jake Heaps hit Gino Simone with a 13-yard pass after the kickoff goes out of bounds, setting the Spartants up at their own 48. But three straight incompletions — and a near interception by Gunderson — force them to punt. It was a beauty, Paul Vanderwulp hit a high one and Gunderson elected to let it bounce. Bad idea. Skyline’s Brandon Barron downed it at the 1.
Franklin Pierce 7, Skyline 0 — The Cardinals get the early jump. Garrett Gunderson recovered a Tyler Washburn fumble at the Skyline 42 and Erich Armstrong needed just four plays to get them in the end zone. He hit Max Lutton with a 27-yard TD pass with 9:27 on the first-quarter clock. Dirk Mortensen’s PAT made it 7-0.
Kickoff nears for the Class 3A semifinal football game at the Tacoma Dome between a pair of unbeatens, No. 2 Skyline and No. 6 Franklin Pierce, both 12-0.
Yeah, it’s early, but both schools have decent crowds and even brought their bands.
Skyline is favored, but FP has a creative QB in Erich Armstrong and should make a game of it. The winner gets No. 4 O’Dea (13-0) in next Friday’s state championship game. O’Dea beat No. 7 Bellevue yesterday in the other 3A semi, 27-17. The Irish were impressive, especially against Bellevue’s vaunted wing-T offense.
I’ll be posting updates throughout the game, so check back.
— Sandy Ringer