Kentlake subdues Auburn in division opener

Falcons fly to 4-0 start; injuries, mistakes hamper Trojans

Good things continue to happen to Kentlake.

Having dispatched neighbor Kentwood a week ago to claim city bragging rights, the Falcons have taken wing as they plot a course to a division title and a return to the playoffs.

Kentlake took another step forward Thursday night, going on the road and wearing down Auburn 42-20 in a North Puget Sound League Valley Division opener for both football teams.

The Falcons are off to their second 4-0 start in three seasons. Auburn, suddenly beset by injuries and bad breaks, drops to 1-3.

“We have great chemistry. They’re all gelling well, support each other and encourage each other,” said Falcons coach Brett Thompson. “They’re great guys. They work hard, try to stay humble and have fun together.”

Quarterback Hudson Potts ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns and running back Dashaun Leon rushed for 189 yards and two more scores as the Falcons ruled the line of scrimmage, opening a 21-6 halftime lead before breaking it open in the third quarter.

“We felt in control the whole time when we ran the ball like that and stopped the run on defense,” Potts said. “The offensive line was dominating, and (the backs) were popping runs.”

Auburn, meanwhile, was undone by mistakes. The Trojans had two field goal attempts and an extra-point kick blocked. They lost their star player, versatile senior quarterback Calvin Liulamaga, to a leg injury late in the first half. Other players limped to the sideline. They also lost their poise with a player ejection.

“I don’t think we were in control of (our emotions) tonight,” said Trojans coach Aaron Chantler, following a long, closed-doors meeting with his team after the game. “I’m never a guy who is going to measure success with wins or losses … but on attitude and our effort.

“It’s time to take a long, deep look in the mirror and say, ‘Where do we want to go from here?’ ” Chantler said. “I challenged the guys and said, ‘We’re here for you, we love you guys, but you have to decide: there’s only one way we’re going to do this, either go all in or this isn’t for you.’ … It was a tough conversation, but they responded well.”

Auburn moved the ball early. The up-tempo attack answered Kentlake’s first score, Leon’s 1-yard smash, with an eight-play drive, culminating in Liulamaga’s 4-yard TD pass to Aadam Nasheed. The conversion was blocked, leaving Kentlake in front 7-6.

Kentlake responded with a second TD, a Potts 5-yard keeper, with 2:39 left in the first quarter.

Mixing effective runs with short passes, the Falcons asserted themselves when they went on a 17-play, 94-yard drive that devoured 5½ minutes of the second quarter. Potts and Leon each broke loose on big gains, with Potts finishing the march with a 2-yard dive for a 21-6 lead with 1:12 left in the half.

Kentlake quickly padded its lead to 28- 6 on its first drive of the second half when Leon sprang through the middle for a 13-yard TD run.

Later in the third quarter, Potts turned the corner and dashed 69 yards to the Auburn 2, setting up his own scoring plunge on the next play for a 35-6 lead.

Ivan Hall’s 19-yard TD run pushed the margin to 42-6 with 3:11 to go in the third quarter.

Game out of reach, Auburn nonetheless scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Ronna Brown scored from the 1 with 10:48 to play, a score set up by Evan Robbins’ blocked punt and Keegan Yu’s 23-yard strike to Nasheed.

Sammy Gordon scored from 7 yards out with 3:11 left on the clock.

Kentlake hosts Federal Way at 6 p.m. next Saturday at French Field. Auburn travels to Renton to take on Hazen at 7 p.m. next Friday.

“Our division is tough,” Potts said. “We have some tough teams ahead in Federal Way, then Hazen and (Auburn) Mountainview, so we got to keep grinding and win every week.”

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