Wilsonville football advances to state quarterfinals
Behind a dominating second half, Wilsonville defeated North Bend 34-14 Friday in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Wildcats scored on their sixth offensive play of the game on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jayce Knapp to Payton Dart with 8:16 remaining in the first quarter.
But Wilsonville then had two field goals blocked in the first half and entered intermission tied 7-7.
"The coaches just came in and said we need to wake up," Wilsonville senior Mason Dean said. "This is it. If we don't come together as a team, we go home and we turn in our gear on Monday."
Dean broke the tie with 10:07 remaining in the third quarter, returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.
"Coach (Daryl) Moe switched to a different coverage and he set me up perfectly to get that pick," Dean said. "I knew this could be my last game at Randall Stadium and I didn't want it to end. I just wanted to keep playing football. I love all these guys. They're my brothers."
Dean had four interceptions in the game, two in each half.
"Mason Dean, he owned the night," Wilsonville coach Adam Guenther said. "He was absolutely incredible. I don't know why they (North Bend) kept throwing at him."
After Jacob Haussermann's 30-yard field goal extended Wilsonville's lead to 17-7, Knapp connected with Josh McKenzie for a 66-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
After Dean's fourth interception, Knapp found Dart for a 50-yard gain to set up a 22-yard field goal by Haussermann.
Knapp and Dart then connected again for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 34-7 lead.
Knapp completed 22 of 31 pass attempts for 358 yards and three touchdowns.
Dart caught nine passes for 196 yards.
"I think we realized if we didn't get back on track this would be our last game and I don't think we're ready to be done yet," Knapp said. "That was a huge motivator. We did a lot better job of executing in the second half."
Wilsonville's defense was boosted by the return of linebacker Chad Overholt, who missed the previous two games with an injury.
"Chad is a difference maker," Guenther said. "He's the heart of the defense. He does things you're average linebacker doesn't do. Having him back is essential."
Linebacker Jack Kimball also played through an injury against North Bend.
Colby Guenther and Jeremy Katz split time at center in place of Hunter Mooney, who spent the week in the hospital with an undisclosed illness.
"Everybody chipped in," coach Guenther said. "Everybody did their jobs and everybody came through. It was absolutely awesome."
The Wildcats will play No. 1 Thurston next Friday in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Colts defeated Wilsonville in last season's state championship game.
"We're glad to see them again," Overholt said. "We want that competition. I think we're ready. Now is as good a time as any. We've got to bring our best to play with the best."
Thurston defeated Corvallis 61-21 in the first round of the playoffs.
"We've got a chip on our shoulder and we're ready to see what we're going to do against one of the best teams in the state," Knapp said.
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