The Meridian football team kept its season alive yet again with a 34-21 win over Cascade Christian on Friday night at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium, as the Trojans claimed their first state playoff victory since 2010.
Meridian (6-5) moves on to host Connell (10-1) in the 1A quarterfinals next weekend.
The Trojans were tied with the undefeated Cougars at 21-21 entering the fourth quarter of their Class 1A first round playoff, and took the lead on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Simon Burkett to Dawson Logan with 7:25 left in regulation.
Meridian added another six points with 58 seconds left, on a Burkett rushing touchdown on third-and-goal from the 1 yard line.
Burkett had a marvelous night, scoring three touchdowns on 11 carries for 34 yards. He also completed 15 of 24 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
“Wow,” Meridian head coach Bob Ames said. “(I’m) just awed by what our staff has done and how hard our kids play.”
Ames gave special credit to the schemes of defensive coordinator Reiner Elenbaas, and to his defensive coaches and players who have now knocked off two ranked opponents in the first two round of the playoffs.
Meridian’s previous matchup with Cascade Christian, on Sept. 17, resulted in a 34-33 loss, a game that Ames said featured six players who are now injured.
“Just to be able to do this is very, very special,” he said.
Cascade Christian (10-1) scored first, but Meridian rallied back to score with 32 seconds left in the first quarter on a 1-yard Burkett run. Tony Schleimer carried the 2-point conversion to give Meridian a one-point lead.
Cascade Christian took a 14-8 lead just 44 seconds into the second half, but Meridian tied the Cougars on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Burkett to Phillips. Nick Sebastian’s kick failed, preventing the extra point.
Meridian took a 21-14 lead with an 8-yard Burkett rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter, but Cascade Christian tied things up, when the Cougars’ Tyquan Coleman had a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown as time expired at the end of the third.
Meridian’s rushing offense covered 197 yards, led by Tony Schleimer’s 21 carries for 78 yards.
TJ Dykstra who had four receptions for 63 yards to lead the Trojans, while Dawson Logan added three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown and senior Dawson Phillips had four for 43 yards and a touchdown.
CC – Austin Carder 45 catch (Brady Collins kick)
Mer – Simon Burkett 1 run (Tony Schleimer run)
CC – Zach Bartolome 5 run (Evan Patrick kick)
Mer – Dawson Phillips 33 pass from Burkett (kick failed)
Mer – Burkett 8 run (Nick Sebastian kick)
Mer – Tyquan Coleman fumble recovery (Patrick kick)
Mer – Dawson Logan 40 pass from Burkett (Sebastian kick)
Mer – Burkett 1 run (kick failed)
RUSHING — Meridian: Tony Schleimer 21-78, Cole Roberts 16-70, Simon Burkett 11-34, Andrew Logan 3-15. Cascade Christian: Zach Bartolome 10-52, Tyquan Coleman 3-7, Parker Johnson 2-4.
PASSING — Meridian: Simon Burkett 15-24-0-179. Cascade Christian: Parker Johnson 11-25-0-204, Jake Nielsen 1-1-0-45.
RECEIVING — Meridian: TJ Dykstra 4-63, Dawson Phillips 4-43, Dawson Logan 3-57, Andrew Logan 2-18, Tony Schleimer 1-0, Dylan Hickok 1-(-2). Cascade Christian: Austin Carder 8-177, Tyquan Coleman 4-72.