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Auburn knocks off Mead, earns berth in semifinals
Auburn High School earned a 21-7 upset victory over fifth-ranked Mead on Saturday in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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AUBURN — Kevin Shelton pounded his chest, then pointed to the sky.
"That's for my brother," he said of Auburn High School's 21-7 upset victory over fifth-ranked Mead on Saturday in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
Shennon "Skeevie" Shelton was a standout on the last Auburn football team that reached the state semifinals, back in 2006 when the school played in Class 3A. He died of a gunshot wound in April 2011 and his memory continues to motivate Kevin, who made big plays on both sides of the ball to ensure a return trip to the Tacoma Dome,
The unranked Trojans (10-2) will play No. 4 Bellarmine Prep (11-1) either Friday or Saturday.
Shelton, a defensive end, had a sack and another big tackle for loss as the Trojans shut down a normally potent Mead offense. The "D" was especially stingy in the first half, twice holding the Panthers on downs inside the 25 — once on fourth-and-four from the 5-yard line, with Danny Velasco standing up Davian Barlow 2 yards short. Auburn came up with two interceptions, the final one by Josh Tate to seal the victory inside two minutes to play. "We stepped up today," Shelton said.
The Panthers (10-2) hurt themselves with five first-half fumbles on quarterback/center exchanges under slick conditions, but lost only one of those. Mead coach Sean Carty made no excuses.
"Their athletes beat our athletes," he said.
The Trojans have plenty of those and like to spread the ball around on offense. Harold Lee, one of their biggest playmakers, broke a 27-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Keio Buchanan finished with 72 yards on nine carries, including a TD, and Darnell Hagans added 81 yards on seven tries.
DeMontra McNealy got just two carries, but he made the most of the second one, fighting his way into the end zone from 12 yards out for the clinching score with 3:59 left in the game. That capped an impressive 75-yard drive after Mead had gotten on the board and seized momentum.
"I told everybody all week I was going to get me a touchdown," McNealy said, crediting his line.
The Trojans, who failed to make the playoffs last season, are the only unranked team in the Final Four.
"That just fuels our fire," McNealy said.
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Information in this article, originally published Nov. 17, 2012, was corrected Nov. 18, 2012. A previous version of this story said Jaykob Sloan had the late interception for Auburn instead of Josh Tate.