Aloha's late-game rally falls short in 46-27 loss to Thurston in playoffs
by: Jim Newton BIG PLAY — Aloha’s Cooper Nagy recovers a fumble late in his team’s Friday playoff loss at Thurston.

SPRINGFIELD - It wasn't supposed to go like this, and it certainly wasn't supposed to end like this for the Aloha football team.

The Warriors, 2010 Class 6A state champs, saw their roller-coaster, injury-plagued 2011 season come to a crashing halt on Friday, losing to Thurston 46-27 at Thurston in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

'It was a different kind of year with a lot of ups and downs in momentum,' admitted Aloha coach Chris Casey, whose team finished at 5-6 after tying for third in Metro League play. 'Injuries were a large part of that, obviously. It's not an excuse, but that's just the way things went this year.'

Indeed. While the Warriors got some of their walking wounded back at the end of the year - junior tight end/defensive end Bryson Sullivan played particularly well on defense on Friday after returning from a knee injury - star tailback Thomas Tyner missed another game with a foot injury and junior tackle Brayden Kearsley went down during the game with a hurt knee.

Despite all that, the Warriors were very much in this game until late, closing within 34-27 when senior quarterback Cory Sinner scored on a 21-yard run in the fourth quarter. Further, Aloha then forced a Thurston fumble at the Colts' 30-yard line and recovered with a chance to tie the score.

But Thurston's defense held, the Colts responded with two more touchdowns in the remaining minutes and pulled away to win 46-27.

'Offensively, we just didn't finish the opportunities we had,' Casey said. 'We had all the momentum but just couldn't capitalize.'

Thurston capitalized all night with its potent running game, which racked up 406 yards on the ground, its efforts led by Trevor Westover, who finished with 40 carries for 392 yards and seven touchdowns.

'Their running back was obviously very good, and he was a lot better in person than he was on film and he looked very good on film,' Casey said. 'But we didn't get off blocks very well and we didn't tackle well either.'

For its part, Aloha got a huge effort from Sinner in his high school finale, rushing for three touchdowns of 38, 1 and 21 yards.

'Offensively, he was just a Warrior,' Casey said of Sinner. 'He managed the offense well, he scrambled and ran when he had to - what a great effort.'

Aloha also got a 51-yard TD run from Ben Saechin in the game. Westover got to the end zone on runs of 10, 90, 7, 11, 30, 11 and 20 yards for Thurston.

The Colts, the fourth-place team from District 1, improved to 7-3 and advanced to a second-round match-up against Central Catholic at 7 p.m. Friday at Jeld-Wen Field.

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