Bulldogs book ticket for semis

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 21, 2014

The No. 4 King’s Fork High School Bulldogs were up for the challenge posed by visiting No. 12 Booker T. Washington High School and pulled away for a 33-14 second-round playoff win on Friday night.

“It’s big,” King’s Fork coach Joe Jones said. “I mean, first 10-win season, two home playoff games. Every year, we want to raise the bar and to this point, we did.”

King's Fork High School junior slotback Quadarius Boyd scores the first touchdown of the Bulldogs' 33-14 second round playoff win over visiting Booker T. Washington High School on Friday night. (Danny Haymond photo)

King’s Fork High School junior slotback Quadarius Boyd scores the first touchdown of the Bulldogs’ 33-14 second round playoff win over visiting Booker T. Washington High School on Friday night. (Danny Haymond photo)

They did it against a team that made them earn it.

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“They were definitely better than their No. 12 seed indicated,” Jones said.

The Bookers advanced to play the Bulldogs after upsetting No. 5 Powhatan High School last week, 40-37.

Jones said he knew after a good finish in the regular season and a big win against a 9-1 team, the Bookers were going to be fired up.

“We believe we have a good football team, and the guys are resilient, and I thought we did a good job offensively,” Jones said.

He said the Bulldogs put together a great opening drive, which was capped by a 21-yard shuffle pass from junior quarterback Ryan Kluck to junior slotback Quadarius Boyd for a touchdown. The extra point was no good.

Booker T. Washington was able to respond, but it took about 10 minutes, taking a 7-6 lead with 9:21 to go in the second quarter.

The King’s Fork offense ended up driving to the Bookers’ 16-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs.

That is when the Bulldogs defense did a great impression of an offense. It managed to gain yards on first and second down by pushing the Bookers back each time, backing them onto their own five-yard line.

Then on 3rd and 21, junior linebacker John Spearman intercepted the Bookers’ quarterback and returned it for a touchdown. Junior feature back Deshaun Wethington ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-7.

“We just came out here ready to play,” Bulldogs senior defensive back Kane Miskel said. “Coach prepared us during the week; we just came out here ready to ball.”

Jones gave high praise to his offensive and defensive coordinators.

“I tell you, I’m lucky to have Shaka Miller and Dave Waddell,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to have such faith in those two guys. They did a great job.”

The Bulldog defense sustained King’s Fork’s momentum in the second half when senior defensive back TyQuan Weston recovered a fumble and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown, making it 20-7 only two minutes into the third quarter.

But the Bookers got some momentum back on the ensuing kickoff, returning it to the King’s Fork 10-yard line and scoring a few plays later to make it 20-14. Then, the Bulldogs fumbled the kickoff, giving it right back.

But the King’s Fork defense was clutch.

“You talk about a key play,” Jones said, describing how the defense stopped Booker T. Washington on fourth down “when it was 20-14 and they had a chance to go in and score after we fumbled the kickoff return and we stopped them and got the ball back and then we got a big run and that flipped the field.”

Later in the game with the score still 20-14, Booker T. Washington had another chance, but Miskel ended it stripping the quarterback and recovering the fumble.

Various penalties on the Bookers helped put King’s Fork in the red zone, and Wethington capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, leading to a 27-14 score.

Miskel killed the Bookers’ next drive with an interception, and Wethington followed that up with a 60-yard touchdown run, but the King’s Fork sideline and crowd was filled with concern when he went down at the end of the run, appearing to have a leg injury.

A big cheer erupted when he got up after trainers stretched out his leg for a couple of minutes.

“He’ll rehab it starting tomorrow, and we’ll get him as ready as we can get him, we’re fingers crossed and praying he can play,” Jones said, but noted Wethington’s health is worth more than a game. “So, we’ll see how he’s feeling by about the middle of next week, make a call on it.”

King’s Fork is making its second straight appearance in the regional semifinal game. Last year, its season ended there in a narrow loss to Heritage High School.

“It’s in the back of my mind, I think about it every time we play a playoff game, that same feeling,” Miskel said of that game. “I cried like a baby after that game, man. It’s not going to happen again this year.”

The Bulldogs (10-2) will visit No. 1 Lake Taylor High School (12-0) at a date and time to be determined.