Repeat bid over: Limar’s six touchdowns propel Lake Stevens past G-K in 4A football semis

Ryan Berry / The Herald/Ryan Berry

Jalen Davenport held back tears, embracing family members near midfield as fireworks celebrated the opposition. The two-way senior’s high school football career was over.

Graham-Kapowsin’s senior tailback-linebacker fell on an early fumble Saturday at Lake Stevens High School and punched home a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. But Davenport and the Eagles couldn’t recover from six total touchdowns by Vikings star Jayden Limar, which pushed Lake Stevens back to the 4A title game next weekend for consecutive seasons.

“The opportunity to make it this far is just amazing,” Davenport said, standing next to head coach Jeff Logan. “We proved a lot of people wrong. They didn’t think we’d even make it this far.”

Limar, a Notre Dame commit, logged five rushing touchdowns and threw a sixth, helping Lake Stevens to a 42-28 victory.

Saturday marked the fifth meeting between the Vikings and Eagles — all in the state playoffs — in the last eight seasons. Lake Stevens snapped what was an even 2-2 series. Graham-Kapowsin won last year’s 4A title over the Vikings, 44-7, perhaps adding fuel to Lake Stevens’ fire.

“Any time a team beats you that bad, you’re gonna remember it,” Limar said of last year’s title game. “I’m happy we were able to give it back before I graduate.”

Lake Stevens appeared poised to score first and immediately dominate time of possession before Cassidy Bolong-Banks fumbled a 1st-and-goal jet sweep, falling directly to Davenport. The miscue erased a methodical first offensive drive and washed away the volume from a packed home crowd.

Only the visitor’s sideline – some 200 road fans – could be heard.

“I saw they went for the jet sweep, and he dropped it,” Davenport said. “I was looking for it, I got off the block, the ball kicked up to me, and I just dove on it.”

Lake Stevens quickly forced a punt and its offense returned to business, returning the noise to the home crowd. Limar’s big day began with a one-yard score up the middle, providing Lake Stevens with a one-score lead in the final minute of the first quarter.

Graham-Kawposin’s next drive knotted the score at seven. A more-than-five-minute drive ended on a 24-yard touchdown rush by Khalil Yarbo.

Yarbo, a senior tailback, found a hole up the middle and burst past defenders for the score.

But Limar and Lake Stevens were far from done: a 55-yard burst by the tailback straight up the middle capped a quick response.

There was no chance of stopping Limar and his 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds – once Lake Stevens’ captain found the open field, the play was over.

Yet Graham-Kawposin refused to go away. Receiver Khristian Norris was left wide open down the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown catch, and Jabez Woods grabbed a two-point reception to give the Eagles a 15-14 lead, their first of the game.

Eagles defensive back Garrett Ott snagged an interception on the next play from scrimmage, helping set up consecutive scoring opportunities. Quarterback Devon Superales took Graham-Kawposin back to the red zone within 29 seconds, leaving a 31-yard field goal attempt for Eagles kicker Kolby White-Gibson.

He split the uprights, sending the visiting crowd into a frenzy as Graham-Kawposin trotted to the locker room with a four-point halftime lead.

“We were in the locker room, and (coach Thomas) Tri told us... we’re gonna score, get the ball back, and score again,” Limar said of Tri’s halftime speech.

It’s exactly what happened.

Lake Stevens converted a pair of third downs in part of a four-minute scoring drive to open the second half, and Limar notched his third touchdown, bouncing to the left and bursting to the pylon for a 10-yard touchdown.

Then, Graham-Kawposin fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Lake Stevens recovered and Limar later scored his fourth touchdown, this time from four yards.

“We said we were going to (come out and score), and we did it,” Limar said. “I knew we could do anything after that. That was awesome.”

Graham-Kapowsin turned its next drive into a 36-yard field goal, aided by a near-70-yard return on the kickoff. White-Gibson nailed the attempt, pulling the Eagles to within seven.

Limar scored a fifth touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter, bursting right for a seven-yard score at the pylon.

The home bleachers erupted, like they had four times before. And the Vikings were ahead by 14, their largest advantage all game.

Davenport added a five-yard touchdown run for the Eagles in the fourth, but Limar and Lake Stevens mounted another scoring drive to reclaim a two-score advantage.. A trick play encapsulated the effort as Limar took a handoff and threw a 23-yard touchdown to Issac Redford, to the surprise and dismay of Eagles defensive backs.

It marked six total touchdowns for Limar: five rushes, one pass. And it nearly ensured a path back to the title game.

Vikings defensive back David Brown added the finishing touches – an interception over the middle that made Graham Kapowsin’s road to victory all the more bleak.

“The defense always comes in clutch when we need them,” Limar said, “and the offense’s got their back when they need it.”

A pair of losses to 4A SPSL opponents in the season’s first five weeks required a near-flawless finish for hopes of a repeat bid, and until Saturday, Graham-Kapowsin appeared up to the task. Both programs entered the state semifinal 10-2, and neither program had lost since September.

Saturday’s defeat snapped Graham-Kapowsin’s seven-game win streak.

“Our defense never quit. We don’t sub a lot of guys on defense, and I’m really proud of (the) effort our kids put forward.”

The Eagles’ season ends with a 10-3 record. Lake Stevens improved to 11-2.

In Saturday’s neighboring semifinal, No. 4 Kennedy Catholic toppled No. 8 Emerald Ridge by an identical score, 42-28, to clinch a meeting with Lake Stevens next weekend for the state championship.

“Great season overall, in my opinion,” Davenport said. “I wouldn’t take anything back.”