TACOMA — Following last week's exhausting, epic nine-overtime win over Pasco, it was easy to wonder what the Bothell Cougars had left for Saturday's Class 4A state semifinal at the Tacoma Dome.
Turns out, plenty.
Showcasing a physical defense and an almost telepathic first-half connection between senior quarterback Cody Atkinson and senior receiver Marc Mulholland, eighth-ranked Bothell defeated No. 2 Edmonds-Woodway 28-14 at the Tacoma Dome.
"The biggest thing that we said was, 'Let's finish the story,' " Atkinson said. "Yeah, we might have played in the greatest game ever in high-school football but we've got to finish the story.
"That's what we're trying to do next week, finish the story of the Bothell Cougars 2006."
Bothell (12-1) plays at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in the final — for the first time in school history — against Oak Harbor, which beat Gonzaga Prep 14-10 earlier Saturday in Spokane.
Compared with the other offensive weapons in the game, Atkinson came in relatively unheralded with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Bothell game plan this week, however, featured more passing than usual.
Atkinson took advantage of that against the Warriors (12-1), hitting 14 of 20 passes for 202 yards and two TDs and showing an uncanny ability to convert on third down.
The 6-foot-4 Mulholland was the beneficiary, with hands as sure as November rain, catching eight passes for 124 yards.
"The thing about playoffs is kids rise," said Bothell coach Tom Bainter. "Without saying anything, they just play special in special games. That's Marc Mulholland."
Bothell took the opening kickoff and scored first, driving 80 yards with a smart mix of runs and short passes, the last a 4-yard play-action from Atkinson to fullback Luke Jones in the right flat for a TD.
The drive featured the first of several nice catches by Mulholland. On a third-and-10, he plucked the ball out of the air after a E-W defensive back had deflected it, for a 16-yard conversion. For the game, Bothell converted 10 of 13 third-down attempts.
After holding E-W, Bothell scored again, this time taking advantage of blown coverage. Atkinson found Mulholland open for 46 yards to the E-W 9-yard line. Jones bulled in the rest of the way on two carries, the second from 5 yards.
Bothell went up 21-0 just before halftime, when Atkinson hit Derek Stottlemyer from 2 yards.
The Warriors returned the second-half kickoff 67 yards to set up their first score. Tony Heard rumbled in from 9 yards.
Bothell running back Jon Kirchner was rewarded for his hard work in the fourth quarter, churning for a 5-yard TD that gave Bothell a 28-7 lead. He finished with 100 yards on 26 carries.
E-W's biggest playmaker, 6-6 wide receiver Eric Greenwood, was held in check all night with the exception of one play. Late in the game, he flew past the Bothell secondary and E-W quarterback Kyle McCartney hit him in stride for a 71-yard TD.
Bothell also stubbornly refused to kick off to Greenwood all night long, booting the ball short.
Warriors running back Josh Heard, who came in with 1,654 yards rushing and 26 TDs, finished with 15 carries for a relatively quiet 102 yards.
"We just couldn't get any momentum," said Greenwood, who came in with 13 TD catches but whose only other catch Saturday came on a 5-yard screen pass. E-W had three turnovers.
|Bothell 28, Edmonds-Woodway 14|
Both — Luke Jones 4 pass from Cody Atkinson (Connor Risden kick)
Both — Luke Jones 4 run (Connor Risden kick)
Both — Derek Stottlemyer 2 pass from Cody Atkinson (Connor Risden kick)
E-W — Tony Heard 9 run (Curtis Storer kick)
Both — Jon Kirchner 5 run (Connor Risden kick)
E-W — Eric Greenwood 71 pass from Kyle McCartney (Curtis Storer kick)