It wasn't the way the Thomas Jefferson football team wanted to qualify for the program's second-ever appearance in the postseason. The Tahoma Bears downed the Raiders Friday night, 21-13, in a must-win game for the Bears.
The win by Tahoma and the loss by TJ created a three-way tie for third-place in the South Puget Sound League North Division. The Bears, Raiders and Auburn all finished 5-3 in league play, but Tahoma owns the power-point tiebreaker as the only one of the three to beat Kentwood, which is the No. 1 seed. And Jefferson won head-to-head against Auburn, earning the league's fourth and final spot into the playoffs. Auburn Riverside beat Auburn Friday night to help TJ.
The Raiders (5-4 overall) will travel to Sammamish to face second-ranked Skyline in a winner-to-state, loser-out game at the Class 4A Bi-District Playoffs on Friday night.
Against Tahoma, it was the Bear defense that proved to be the difference. Jefferson quarterback Niko DelaCruz was sacked seven times by the Bears and TJ's top playmaker, Tyrell Williams, was injured during the game.
The Raiders jumped out front on their second possession of the game when they used a 10-play drive, which culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams to put TJ up 7-0.
It looked like the Raiders would extend the lead on their next possession, but Tahoma's O.J. Jenkins intercepted a DelaCruz pass in the end zone. The Bears then drove down the field to tie the game at 7-7 on a 2-yard run from Jerome Woods, which is how the score stayed until after halftime.
Tahoma took the lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Shane Nelson to Denham Petrichelli with 7:25 left in the third quarter. Joe Donahue gave the Bears a 21-7 lead on a 1-yard run later in the third.
Jefferson got back in the game with a 2-yard touchdown run by Zach Grayson with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter, but Tahoma blocked the extra-point and held the Raiders the rest of the game.
Curtis 32, at Federal Way 7: The Eagles will also be limping a little bit heading into the postseason. The Vikings beat up fourth-ranked Federal Way Friday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. The win means Curtis (8-1) will be the South's second seed into the playoffs and the Eagles (7-2) will be the third.
Federal Way will travel to Edmonds-Woodway to take on the Warriors at the Bi-District Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. Edmonds-Woodway (8-1) dropped its first game of the season Friday to Lake Stevens in the Wesco 4A football championship, 53-49.
Against Curtis, the Vikings tallied the final 29 points of the game to blow away the Eagles. Federal Way's only score came on an 89-yard touchdown catch by junior Chico McClatcher from D'Jimon Jones early in the second quarter.
But it was all Curtis from there. The Vikings took the lead for good after blocking a Federal Way punt. Mitchell Hershey scored the first of his three touchdowns from 6 yards out to put Curtis up 10-7.
Hershey also scored from 19 yards out after the Eagles fumbled the kickoff to start the second half.
Federal Way (7-2) at Edmonds-Woodway (8-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Jefferson (5-4) at Skyline (9-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Puyallup (6-3) at Bothell (7-2)
Eastlake (7-2) at Kentwood (7-2)
Central Kitsap (7-2) at Graham-Kapowsin (9-0)
Kamiak (6-3) at Bellarmine Prep (7-2)
Skyview (5-4) at Curtis (8-1)
Tahoma (6-3) at Gig Harbor (7-2)