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Originally published October 28, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Page modified October 28, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Kentwood rallies, tops Kentridge for playoff berth, 23-22

The Conquerors advance as the No. 2 seed out of the South Puget Sound League 4A North Division and will play Gig Harbor Saturday at French Field.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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KENT — Visa Thach is built like a bowling ball and hits like a thunderbolt.

He made his presence felt on both sides of the football as Kentwood High School rallied for a 23-22 victory over Kentridge Friday night at French Field to nail down a berth into the district playoffs.

The Conquerors (7-2, 6-2) advance as the No. 2 seed out of the South Puget Sound League 4A North Division and will play Gig Harbor (Narrows No. 3) Saturday at French Field.

Kentridge, which led 22-7 at halftime, would have been eliminated if not for Auburn's loss to Auburn Riverside on Friday. Instead, the Chargers (4-5, 4-4) get the No. 5 seed and play a pigtail game against Curtis (5-4, 4-4), the fifth team out of the SPSL South, Tuesday at French field.

"That kind of sparked a new hope inside us," Kentridge tight end Caleb Smith said of hearing that Auburn lost.

Kentwood never lost hope despite falling into the big hole.

"We had to hold our own, stay strong and stay composed," said Thach, a fullback/linebacker who is listed generously at 5 feet 9 and 230 pounds. He rushed for 117 yards on six carries.

The Conquerors took the 23-22 lead on Mitchell Cox's 25-yard field goal with 4:22 to play — a score set up by a 48-yard scamper by Matt Hubbard, who rushed for 119 yards.

Kentridge then put the ball in the hands of the 6-6, 245-pound Smith, a former quarterback who lined up in the wildcat formation and broke runs of 48 and 14 yards to take the Chargers to the Kentwood 6-yard line.

Kentwood put together a defensive stand capped by Thach's 5-yard sack of Smith, forcing a 33-yard field goal try by Daniel Allen that hit the upright with 1:35 left.

And when the Conquerors needed one final first down to seal the victory, it was Thach breaking a 29-yard run with 25 seconds to play.

"That was a sweet deal," he said.

It was all Kentridge early as quarterback John Hamilton hit touchdown passes of 70 yards to Reggie Collins and 32 to Jimmie Davis, who also scored on a 5-yard run.

"We didn't panic," Kentwood coach Rex Norris said.

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