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No Jason Brown - no problem as O'Dea rides Sirkeenan Hart to opening Class 3A playoff win

Hart steps in for the Irish's injured standout and rushes for 188 yards in the team's 42-28 win over Peninsula

SEATTLE – The third-seeded O’Dea Fighting Irish were without the services of standout junior running back Jason Brown for more than half of a Class 3A state tournament opening-round game Friday - but that didn't slow down the Irish’s potent rushing attack.

Junior Sirkeenan Hart more than made up for the absence of Brown, rushing for 188 yards on nine carries and scoring two touchdowns to lead O’Dea to a 42-28 win over 14th-seeded Peninsula at downtown Memorial Stadium.

The majority of Hart’s yards, 165 to be exact, came on just three carries - a 51-yard touchdown run, an 80-yard run that set up another O’Dea touchdown in the third quarter and a 33-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter that sealed the Seahawks’ fate.

"He did a wonderful job,” O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said of Hart. “Obviously we’ve got kids up front that do a nice job, but yeah, he stepped in without missing a beat. We were down a couple of kids, so Sir stepped in and did a wonderful job."

Brown didn’t play the Irish’s final two series of the first half, and missed the entire second half. Kohler said that Brown had been sick and was dealing with a bit of hamstring discomfort, but expects Brown to be ready for their quarterfinal game next week against 11th-seeded Stanwood.

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After the game, Brown called Hart a "hidden gem." And it wasn’t hard to see why. Every time the Seahawks made a play to get within one score, it seemed Hart ripped off a big run to put the Irish back in control.

"Everything that happened tonight, I put to God and all my brothers that just pushed me forward and picked me up after every play," Hart said. "My fullback opened up the (holes) for me and everyone just kept pushing forward and left it open for me and I was able to run full-speed, and I give it to all my receivers for blocking downfield for me so I didn’t have to worry about anyone catching me."

The underdog Seahawks were competitive throughout, trailing 21-13 at halftime and getting to within seven points twice in the second half, but Hart’s final touchdown proved to be the dagger.

Payton Knowles passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns for Peninsula, but he also tossed a pair of interceptions.

"They’re well-coached," Kohler said of the Seahawks. "Every game is a challenge. Hopefully we’ll be better because of this."