KENNEWICK – East Valley’s improbable postseason run continued Saturday thanks to an improbable start to its State 2A football quarterfinal against Prosser.
The Knights jumped out to a 28-0 lead just 8 minutes into the game and rolled to a 48-28 victory over the CWAC champion Mustangs at Lampson Stadium.
“We knew we were stronger and more physical than them, and we came out ready to take it to them,” said sophomore running back Adam Talley, who ran for 241 yards and four touchdowns.
East Valley (7-5), which has won six straight since starting the year 1-5, is in the semifinals for the first time since winning it all in 1981. The Knights will host Tumwater, a 49-8 winner over Burlington-Edison, next weekend at Albi Stadium.
“I’m just happy we don’t have to get on a bus,” said EV coach Adam Fisher, whose team has won three playoff games, all on the road, in a span of 10 days. “Our kids have battled. It’s a huge credit to them.”
Talley’s arrival in the starting lineup after beginning the season as a fifth-stringer was one of two changes EV made after a 28-20 loss to Deer Park dropped them to 0-2 in Great Northern League play.
The other was to go from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense, moving senior Joey Strehlou from outside linebacker to defensive end.
“Once we switched defenses, I knew things would turn around for us,” said senior Joey Reynolds, who had three tackles, a sack and four pass deflections from the other end spot. “We got our personnel to where they needed to be. We’ve gotten hot, and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
The Knights weren’t just hot, but on fire in the first quarter, burying Prosser (10-2) in the first 8 minutes.
Shane Quinn got things started by forcing a fumble that Preston DesChane recovered at the Mustangs 33. Six plays later, Strehlou rumbled over from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.
Tyler Clark then picked off a T.J. Finn pass to give EV the ball right back at the Prosser 31. The Knights needed just two plays to cash in as Taylor Watkins hit a wide-open Matt Hoadley on a 22-yard go route for a score.
Talley followed up a three-and-out with a 40-yard burst up the middle to make it 21-0, and after Dustin Hansen forced and recovered a fumble, Talley went 26 yards around right end to end the blitzkrieg with 4:08 left in the period.
“We came out with a purpose,” Fisher said. “We caused turnovers and we capitalized.”
Prosser showed brief signs of life, with Cesar Lopez blocking a late first-quarter punt and returning it 6 yards for a touchdown, then driving to the EV 5 late in the half.
But the Knights turned Prosser away, then put the game away early in the second half as Talley scored a pair of touchdowns – the second coming off another Prosser turnover.
“Stopping them (at the end of the first half) gave us the momentum, and we finished them off in the second half,” Talley said.
Watkins finished 8 of 10 for 133 yards and two touchdowns.