HERMISTON — Santiam Christian used a fast start to earn a trip to the 3A state football title game.
The second-seeded Eagles bolted to a 20-0 lead and then fended off No. 3 Burns 27-16 at Hermiston High School on Saturday in the semifinals.
Santiam Christian (12-0) will take on No. 1 Hidden Valley, a 42-22 winner over No. 5 Rainier, for the state title next Saturday at noon at Roseburg High School.
The Eagles advanced to the title game with wins over the three playoff teams from Special District 3 — Nyssa (50-7), Vale (58-6) and Burns.
On Saturday, SC finished with 364 total yards while Burns had 265. The Hilanders dominated the time of possession 27:42 to 20:18.
The Eagles rushed for 265 yards on 38 attempts while limiting Burns to just 17 on the ground on 38 carries.
SC quarterback Ely Kennel rushed eight times for 146 yards with one score and was 8-for-19 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.
Marcus Fullbright added 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 rushes while Trevor Oxenrider had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Jaden Tiller was 18-of-33 passing for 240 yards and two scores with one pick for Burns, which finishes the season 11-1. Harlen Gunderson had six catches for 91 yards and Dakota Ceja six more for 66 yards and a score. Ceja added 14 rushing attempts for only 31 yards.
Kennel started the scoring with a 63-yard touchdown run on third-and-7 for a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.
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After forcing a second straight punt, SC went up 13-0 on a 6-yard TD pass from Kennel to Luke Mehlschau with 1:22 to play in the opening quarter.
Mason Wirth came up with an interception at the Burns 27 and Fullbright made it 20-0 on a 1-yard run with 7 seconds left in the first quarter.
Santiam Christian outgained Burns 139-31 in the first quarter.
After being stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1, Burns finally got on the board in thanks to a holding call on the Eagles in the end zone that resulted in a safety to make it 20-2 with 1:29 left in the half.
The Hilanders tool the ensuing free kick and went 49 yards in six plays to make it 20-9 after Tiller connected with Ceja from 20 yards out with 23 seconds left.
The Eagles managed just 53 yards in the second quarter while Burns had 100.
Santiam Christian regained the momentum at the start of the third quarter, needing just three plays to get back into the end zone.
Kennel had a 64-yard run then tossed a 13-yard TD pass to Oxenrider for a 27-9 lead with 11:05 to play in the third.
After two series that ended in punts, the Hilanders cut the Eagles’ advantage to 27-16 on a 32-TD pass from Tiller to William Johnson with 4:04 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles blocked a punt but was stopped on downs. Burns put together a long drive but SC’s Mehlschau intercepted a pass at the 4 to keep the Hilanders off the board and preserve the 11-point lead with 5:51 left.
Burns forced an SC punt but fumbled and the Eagles recovered to take more time off the clock.
It's the Eagles' third trip to the title game in five seasons. They lost to Cascade Christian 28-21 in 2017 and fell 27-20 to Vale in 2015.