By ERICK WALKER
The trifecta didn’t quite happen for the Auburn High football team on Friday night at French Field.
But win No. 50 for seventh-year coach Gordon Elliott did.
Behind the three-pronged rushing attack of Chris Young, Austin Embody and Jeff Gouveia, the Trojans steamrolled to 449 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in a 42-7 South Puget Sound League North Division win over Kentlake.
Gouveia, who rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, was the only running back of the three not to reach 100 yards. Young finished with 127 yards and one score on 10 carries while Embody added 118 yards on 12 carries as the fifth-ranked Trojans (6-0 in league, 6-0 overall) remained unbeaten.
“I don’t see anybody stopping our running game,” said Embody, a 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore. “The only people I see stopping us is us. If we play the way we can play, nobody can stop us.”
And Friday night, despite playing a nearly flawless first half, the Falcons (3-2 in league, 3-3 overall) were simply unable to do just that.
“You have three guys getting the ball and it’s like a three-headed monster out there,” said Kentlake coach Mike Shepard. “It’s … pick your poison. You try and stop (Gouveia) and somebody else gets the ball.”
It was Kentlake’s third straight loss since opening the season with three consecutive wins.
“We’re still in control of our own destiny,” Shepard said. “I think Auburn and Federal Way are the two top teams in the league. But with everyone else, there’s a lot of parity. With two more playoff positions in the league, we have to win two games.”
After the win, Auburn players surrounded Elliott at midfield and showered the coach with chants of “50.”
“I’m 54 (years old),” Elliott deadpanned. “Until my daughter told me after the game, I didn’t know (it was my 50th win). It kind of surprised me.”
What wasn’t surprising, however, was the methodical, overpowering approach the Trojans took in the game. Kentlake, clearly the underdog from the beginning, pulled out all the stops against the Trojans, even converting an on-sides kick to open the game. The Falcons also converted a pair of critical fourth-down plays in the first half and took to the air with more success than in previous weeks. Quarterback Lewi Larson completed 14 of 28 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
But Auburn’s three-headed rushing attack proved too much for the Falcons.
“It’s unstoppable,” said Larson. “Three of the best running backs we’ve seen all year.”
It showed from the beginning, too.
On it’s first drive of the game, Auburn marched 94 yards on 11 plays, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by Gouveia, to take an early 7-0 lead.
Kentlake, showing the grit that made it so successful earlier in the season, responded with a 14-play, 66-yard drive capped off with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Larson to Ryan Esping, tying the game 7-7 early in the second quarter.
Auburn’s offense continued to chew up the ground on its next possession, needing just eight plays to go 75 yards and taking a 14-7 lead on a 29-yard run by quarterback Carlo Lavoie.
The Falcons, however, didn’t concede, taking the 14-7 deficit into the half and proceeding to march the ball down to the Auburn 31-yard line on their first possession of the third quarter.
The tide then turned on the Falcons.
Lewis connected with Tyler Wright for a 16-yard gain on a 4th-and-5, pushing the ball down to Auburn’s 15-yard line. But Wright, who was reluctant to go down on the play, was subsequently stripped of the ball by Lavoie, who doubles as a defensive back.
“I looked at it and the officials could have called it a stop of progress … but (Wright) was still fighting,” Shepard said. “If he pivots, he could run 20 yards for a touchdown. That’s a learning experience. And I am not going to fault him for fighting.”
Auburn made good on Lavoie’s strip, promptly marching 84 yards on 12 plays and taking a 21-7 third-quarter lead on a 5-yard run by Gouveia.
The Trojans continued to rip off 21 more unanswered points, getting fourth-quarter touchdown runs from Bryan Kasa, Young and Rashad Clarke.
“A lot of teams … are good at running the ball run with just one guy,” Elliott said. “We don’t want (opponents) to be able to gang up on Jeff (Gouveia) or Chris (Young) or whoever. We try and spread it around a little bit. Plus, we have more than one good guy who can run the ball.”