WHITE SWAN - Running back Niko Nanez rushed for three touchdowns and 6-foot-3, 320-pound fullback Tony Picard ran in two more scores here Friday night to lead White Swan to a 34-20 victory over DeSales in the opening round of the Washington Class 2B state football playoffs.
The Cougars, who have now won seven straight games, improved to 8-3 on the year and exacted revenge for a 42-16 home loss to the Irish on Sept. 16.
DeSales ended its season with a 7-3 mark.
"We knew our hands would be full," White Swan coach Andy Bush said. "We told our kids, ‘This (DeSales) is the No. 1 B state program. This is your Super Bowl.'"
White Swan plays Colfax, a 22-0 winner over Warden on Friday night, in the quarterfinals next weekend. The time and site have yet to be determined.
Nanez, who gained a game-high 173 yards on 17 carries, staked the Cougars to a 14-0, first-quarter lead on Friday with touchdown runs of 55 and three yards. The latter score came six plays after an eight-yard Irish punt came to rest at the DeSales 38-yard line.
The Cougars' defense contributed to the cause with a fourth-down stop at their 29 and a three-and-out.
"We've struggled in the first quarter (this season)," DeSales coach Pat Graham said. "We never could figure out a way to get started. You can't live that way."
DeSales broke into the scoring column midway through the second quarter after a 65-yard, seven-play drive that concluded with a 19-yard pass from quarterback Jeremiah Cox to wide receiver Ryan Baumgart that cut White Swan's edge to eight, 14-6, at the 5:32 mark.
But the Cougars reclaimed a two-touchdown advantage with 57 seconds left in period two when Picard bulldozed his way into the end zone from the 1 to finish off a possession of 10 plays that covered 61 yards.
White Swan led 20-6 at halftime.
Both teams opened the third quarter with drives of 65 yards.
The Irish drew within seven, 20-13, with 8:34 left. Cox hit running back Luke Fazzari with a screen pass in the left flat that he turned into a 16-yard touchdown after muscling and spinning his way through a trio of would-be tacklers.
Nanez got that score back with a nine-yard rush at the 6:18 mark. White Swan's lead jumped to 28-13 after a 2-point conversion run by Adonis Lewis.
DeSales picked up its final touchdown with 3:54 on the third-quarter clock following a Cox-to-Fazzari connection of six yards.
The Cougars' Kris Arellano set his team up for its last scoring drive of the night on the ensuing kickoff with a 36-yard return to the Irish 48.
Picard plunged over on the 14th play of the series with 8:28 to go in the fourth quarter.
"That was our game plan," Bush said. "We wanted to control the ball. You see how explosive they are when they get the ball."
Interceptions by Alex Sampson and Nanez in the final frame ended any hope of an Irish comeback.
White Swan rushed for 344 yards in the contest compared to just 51 for DeSales.
"Stopping the run has been our Achilles' heel all year," Graham said. "They came at us time after time.
"I was disappointed with the way we ran the football," Graham said. "It forced us to be one-dimensional during the game.
"It seemed like when we got the momentum, they grounded it out," Graham said. "We needed to find a way to get a stop, but we couldn't. We couldn't get their offense off the field."
Cox completed 18-of-28 passes for 267 yards. Baumgart latched on to four of Cox's throws for 65 yards.
Friday's game was the last for DeSales seniors Nick Wales, Arturo Martinez, Dan Solomon, Mat Zimmerman, Jesus Lara and Anthony Brown.
"I'm disappointed for the seniors," Graham said. "We did a lot of good things. It was a successful season."
White Swan 34, DeSales 20
DeSales 0 6 14 0 - 20
White Swan 14 6 8 6 - 34
White Swan - Nanez 55 run (run failed).
White Swan - Nanez 3 run (Sampson run).
DeSales - Baumgart 19 pass from Cox (pass failed).
Whit Swan - Picard 1 run (kick failed).
DeSales - Fazzari 16 pass from Cox (Martinez kick).
Whit Swan - Nanez 9 run (Lewis run).
DeSales - Fazzari 6 pass from Cox (Martinez kick).
White Swan - Picard 1 run (run failed).
DeSales White Swan
First downs 14 20
Rushes/yards 16-51 65-344
Passing yards 267 5
Passes (att-comp-int) 28-18-2 2-1-0
Punts 3-20.7 3-28
Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 3-15
RUSHING - DeSales: Fazzari 11-48, Cox 2-4, Team 1-0, Wales 2-(-1); White Swan: Nanez 17-173, Sampson 20-104, Picard 24-82, Team 4-(-15).
PASSING - DeSales: Cox 18-28-2, 267 yards, 3 TDs; White Swan: Kosik 1-2-0, 5 yards, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING - DeSales: Duehn 5-87, Baumgart 4-65-1, Galloway 3-59, Fazzari 3-20-2, Wales 2-28, Pommerening 1-8; White Swan: Sampson 1-5.