The Columbia River football team is well aware that in the playoffs a slow start can lead to a quick exit.
But aided by a stout defense, the Chieftains were able to keep Bainbridge at bay long enough for the offense to get going on the way to a 27-9 victory in the Class 3A state preliminary game Friday at Kiggins Bowl.
"We have to start stronger," said defensive lineman Dillon Willis, who had two sacks. "We can't be a second-half team. We've got to be a four-quarter team."
Columbia River (6-3) will face the winner of Saturday's Kennedy-Mountlake Terrace game next weekend at Kiggins Bowl in a 3A state first-round game.
The Chieftains had two solid drives in the first quarter -- one that ended in a turnover on downs on the Bainbridge 17, and another that ended with a Zach Perron 32-yard field goal.
But after two second-quarter possessions ended quickly by turnovers, the Chieftian regrouped to drive 61 yards in the final 1:18 of the half to take a 9-3 halftime lead on Clayton Frank's two-yard touchdown run.
"We were just a little sloppy in the first half," River coach John O'Rourke said. "But our defense was able to keep us in the game."
In the third quarter, the Chieftains drove 56 yards to set up a second Perron field goal. Then after the defense produced a fumble, Frank's 24-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Bolton helped put River in control 20-3 with 3:05 left in the third.
"You saw in the second half that we have a team that can compete," running back Remick Kawawaki said. "We have a really good team. We just have to start the game the way we end the game, and play hard all the way through."
Kawawaki finished with 124 yards rushing on 19 carries, 40 of which came on three successive plays that led to his 3-yard TD run that put River up 27-3 in the fourth quarter.
The win was the sixth in a row for River after an uneven non-league schedule.
"We have yet to play a complete game," Kawawaki said. "So I'm excited that we still have games to play and have chance to play that complete game."
COLUMBIA RIVER 27, BAINBRIDGE 9
Bainbridge 0 3 0 6--9
Col. River 3 6 11 7--27
CR -- Zach Perron 32 FG
B -- Sam Kallas 36 FG
CR -- Clayton Frank 2 run (kick blocked)
CR -- Perron 29 FG
CR -- Terrell Bolton 24 pass from Frank (Jason Harmson run)
CR -- Remick Kawawaki 3 run (Perron kick)
B -- Kyle Jackson 2 run (no PAT attempt)
RUSHING -- Bainbridge: Max Wysong 14-41, Kallas 8-25, Paimon Jaberi 9-4, Ben Cussie 4-3, Jackson 4-2. Columbia River: Remick Kawawaki 19-124, Clayton Frank 14-43, Jayson Branson 3-17, Nathan Hawthorne 2-11, Jonathan Branson 1-6.
PASSING -- Bainbridge: Jaberi 7-22-1-65, Jackson 3-6-0-42. Columbia River: Frank 10-26-2-123, Jo. Branson 1-1-0-(-4).
RECEIVING -- Bainbridge: Cussie 6-51, Alex Coplan 2-36, Brannon Lamb 1-15, Paris Amore 1-5; Columbia River: Hawthorne 1-38, Terrell Bolton 3-35, Clark Bryant 2-23, Kawawaki 1-13, Eli Evenson 1-8, Dante Coleman 1-4, Trey Walker 2-(-2).