PUYALLUP — Hayden Williamson’s 5-yard touchdown run in triple overtime gave the Wildcats the lead for good and the defense stopped Cascade Christian’s potential game-tying touchdown run at the 1-yard line to cap the Wildcats’ epic come-from-behind 41-35 victory in triple overtime Saturday night over Cascade Christian to send the Wildcats back to the Class 1A state semifinals.
After Williamson’s touchdown run put La Center up one score, the Wildcats stopped Madden Tobeck at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal from the 5 to send La Center (10-2) into back-to-back state semifinal appearances for the first time in program history with its state quarterfinal victory. La Center faces Meridian, a 28-7 winner of Montesano, next weekend in the state semifinals.
It was a 7-7 game at Sparks Stadium entering the fourth quarter before the scoring frenzy began.
Running back Wyatt Dodson, who finished with a game-high 197 yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns, gave La Center its first lead at 14-7 with 4 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. That touchdown was one of four scored in the final 5 minutes of regulation, plus another five over the three overtimes.
The game’s next two touchdowns came from each team on identical scoring drives — two plays, 54 yards and 50-yard touchdown receptions from Jackson Leslie (La Center) and Tyquan Coleman (Cascade Christian) in a 48-second span.
Adam Whitaker’s 16-yard touchdown reception for Cascade Christian and a successful 2-point conversion tied the game at 21-all with 2:08 left in regulation.
With each team getting a possession at the 25-yard line, Dodson’s 25-yard rushing touchdown on the opening play jump-started overtime, yet Cascade Christian responded with Tobeck’s 2-yard run. La Center’s first chance to win came in double overtime after Williamson hit Evan Honore for a 12-yard touchdown, but Sean Fox’s point-after try was blocked, sending the game into a triple overtime knotted at 35-all.
In the third extra session with each possession beginning at the 10, Williamson scored his eventual game-winner from third-and-5, before the defense made its biggest play of the night: stopping Tobeck’s third overtime touchdown attempt.
The defense is what saved La Center in the first half against a team that scored 61 points in its first-round victory over Nooksack Valley a week earlier. The Wildcats stopped Cascade Christian on fourth down from their 11 with 1:19 to go in the first half and trailed just 7-0 after what was a costly turnover-filled first half. Of its four first-half possessions, two resulted in lost fumbles inside the 5-yard line by the Trico League champions.
But the Wildcats opened the third quarter with an onside kick recovery, and a possession later, a Williamson interception on defense eventually led La Center to tie the game at 7-7 with 5:43 left in the quarter.
Class 1A state quarterfinal
At Sparks Stadium, Puyallup
LA CENTER 41, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 35 (3-OT)
LC 0 0 7 14 8 6 6 – 41
CC 0 7 0 14 8 6 X – 35
CC — Madden Tobeck 1 run (Nathan Suiter kick)
LC — Wyatt Dodson 21 run (Sean Fox kick)
LC — Dodson 6 run (Fox kick)
CC — Tyquan Coleman 50 pass from Parker Johnson (Suiter kick)
LC — Jackson Leslie 50 pass from Hayden Williamson (Fox kick)
CC — Adam Whitaker 16 pass from Johnson (Suiter kick)
LC — Dodson 25 run (Leslie pass from Williamson)
CC — Tobeck 2 run (Tobeck run)
CC — Tobeck 16 run (run failed)
LC — Evan Honore 12 pass from Williamson (kick blocked)
LC — Williamson 5 run (run failed)
RUSHING — Cascade Christian: Madden Tobek 30-177, Tyquan Coleman 14-53, Michael Gurr 2-14, Parker Johnson 4-20. La Center: Wyatt Dodson 36-197, Evan Honore 1-9, Hayden Williamson 6-13, Tanner Dreyer 7-28, Thomas Dreyer 1-5.
PASSING — Cascade Christian: Parker Johnson 13-23-1-204; La Center: Hayden Williamson 13-24-1-193, Evan Honore 1-1-0-18.
RECEIVING — Cascade Christian: Madden Tobeck 2-33, Adam Whitaker 1-16, Tyquan Coleman 8-134, Connor Zetterberg 1-11. La Center: Evan Honore 4-39, Jackson Leslie 6-136, Thomas Dreyer 3-27.