Bill Templeton has done a lot of mish-mashing with his lineups this season. Just when the Kennewick Lions appear to get some traction and put out the lineup Templeton penciled in to start the season, they seem to get bitten by the injury bug.
Case in point: Last week against Richland. The Lions were without their top running back, Dwight Norwood, and one of their best two-way players, Michael Vallier, in a loss to the Bombers.
Those two were back Friday night, and so was Kennewick’s running game.
Norwood rushed for three touchdowns, and Vallier had some key runs as the Lions ran away from Southridge 32-9 on Friday night at Lampson Stadium.
“I thought our offensive line did a nice job tonight,” Templeton said. “We talked all week about what (they) can do as individuals to make us better and make this team better.”
With the win, Kennewick (3-4, 2-3 Mid-Columbia Conference) takes control of the conference’s second playoff spot. The Lions are at Chiawana next Friday night.
“That’s always the goal,” Vallier said. “This is great as a senior to go out with a win over Southridge.”
Norwood, who was injured two weeks ago in a win over Pasco, did not play last week in the Lions’ 44-7 loss to the Bombers. He made his return to the backfield known right away Friday night.
Norwood ran the ball 31 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He had four runs of 20 yards or more, including a 52-yard touchdown run that all but put the game away.
Norwood got free, eluding several Suns defenders at the line of scrimmage and breaking loose down the left sideline to give the Lions a 29-0 lead with 5:55 to play in the third quarter.
Southridge (1-6, 1-4) did not go away and put some pressure on the Lions late in the third quarter and into the fourth. After a Kennewick turnover, Andrew Stayrook burst down the sideline to get Southridge on the board with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter to make the score 29-7. It was Southridge’s first offensive touchdown in two games. The Suns’ lone score last week against Walla Walla came on an interception return.
On Kennewick’s next possession, quarterback Matthew Driver fumbled the ball in the end zone for a safety to get the Suns within 29-9, and the Suns suddenly had some life.
But the momentum was short-lived as a fumble ended the Suns’ next drive.
“They play hard, and they didn’t give up,” Templeton said.
The Suns’ offense, which ranks last in the MCC at a little more than 155 yards per game, again struggled. The Suns had just 29 yards of total offense in the first half, and they finished the game with 177.
Most of those yards came off the arm of Jair Ealy-Thomas, who entered late in the second quarter to provide a spark to the Suns. Ealy-Thomas, after a hot start, finished 7-of-22 passing for 104 yards.
“We wanted to stop the run,” Vallier said. “That’s always our main focus.
“We just have to keep getting better.”
Special to the Tri-City Herald October 17, 2014