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Originally published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 12:07 AM

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Kent-Meridian overcomes loss of QB to beat Kentlake, 22-15

Special to The Seattle Times

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KENT – Kent-Meridian could have folded.

Less than a minute into the Royals’ SPSL 4A contest with host Kentlake, their leader — quarterback Quincy Carter — went down after a two-yard run.

Carter tried to tough it out through another two series, but he finally left the game for good with just under five minutes to go in the first quarter.

“He’s most definitely concussed,” Royals coach Brett Allen said. “It was a scary moment. They took him to the hospital.”

Without Carter to lead the way, Vinnie Malietufa stepped up.

The junior running back ran for 120 yards, scored two touchdowns on the ground and threw the game-winner off a surprise halfback pass with 6:55 to play to lead the Royals to a 22-15 victory over the Falcons.

“Our QB went down,” Malietufa said. “There was nobody else to put us on his back. I had to do it.”

It still took nearly the full first half before any real offense got going. With 1:47 left in the second quarter, Malietufa’s 10-yard run capped an 11-play, 63-yard drive to put the game’s first points on the scoreboard.

A bad snap forced an unsuccessful run attempt for the two-point conversion, but the Royals had a 6-0 lead. Kentlake then muffed the ensuing kickoff, and the Royals recovered at the Falcons’ 30 with 1:45 to go.

Six straight running plays, finishing off with an 18-yard jaunt around the right side by Malietufa, plus a two-point run, made it 14-0 at the half.

“We just rode the wave there, when probably nobody thought we would after our QB went down,” Allen said. “Quincy Carter is one of the best players in this league. But one thing these guys understand, no one player is bigger than the team. If we lean on one another, we will be successful.”

Meanwhile, Kentlake spent more than a half looking for a big play. With 10:26 left in the third quarter, the Falcons finally got one.

The Kentlake defense blocked a Kent-Meridian punt deep in Royals territory and the ball bounded out of the end zone for a Kentlake safety.

That jolt seemed to pump the life back into a Falcons team that didn’t move the ball in the first quarter and barely had the ball in the second. Kentlake roared back from a 14-point halftime deficit to take a 15-14 lead with 6:45 left in the third quarter after quarterback Jake Summer kept the ball for a 16-yard scoring run.

The game stayed that way until midway into the fourth.

Then, on a third-and-five from the Kentlake 22-yard line, Kent-Meridian dialed up the trick play.

“They had been bringing middle pressure,” Allen said. “So they knew we had tried to get to the edge on that play a few times already. We know we also have some pretty sure-handed receivers, too. And Vinnie has kind of been our emergency quarterback a little bit from this summer. He found Matt (Diagre) with a perfect pass.”

Malietufa took the handoff from backup quarterback Cruz Juarez, took three quick steps to his right and stopped. Diagre was by himself near the goal line.

Malietufa arced a high pass that Diagre gathered in as he fell into the end zone for the game-winning TD with 6:55 left.

“We just came out hungry,” Malietufa said. “Kentlake looked delicious, so we ate ‘em.”

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