Down two touchdowns with less than four minutes to play, most teams would cash it in. But Bellarmine Prep pulled off some familiar playoff magic, rallying to score 17 points in the final three minutes – capped by a 20-yard field goal by Matthew Philichi with nine seconds remaining – for a 38-35 win at Newport on Nov. 16 in the 4A state playoffs.
“We’ve played a lot of games like this,” said Lions senior quarterback Lou Millie, referencing some hard-fought playoff victories in recent years. “This is just like usual for us. We’ve got a lot of heart, and we want to stay together as long as we can, so that’s why we play like this.”
The Lions trailed 35-21 after Newport quarterback J.P. Routen connected with tight end Drew Sample for a 54-yard touchdown pass off a play action with 11:13 to go in the game.
But Millie began the comeback effort two drives later, finding Garrett McKay – who finished with 14 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns – on a deep post rout for a 57-yard touchdown. That cut it to 35-27, after Philichi’s extra point was wide left.
The Lions forced a quick three-and-out, and a 10-yard punt gave Bellarmine Prep the ball at the Newport 35-yard line. Millie connected with McKay on a 27-yard pass, and Jamal Ervin scored from three yards out – his second touchdown of the game – on the next play. Millie then connected with Drew Griffin, who made an acrobatic catch to haul in the two-point conversion and tie it 35-35.
“They have realized that it doesn’t matter what is going on, just go hard,” said Bellarmine Prep head coach Tom Larsen. “They have bought into (the belief that) the scoreboard doesn’t tell you how to play, your heart does. And they did that.”
After stopping Newport on three plays the next drive, Millie tackled the Knights’ David Kim three yards short of a first down on a fake punt attempt, giving Bellarmine Prep the ball at Newport’s 37-yard line with under a minute left. He hit Griffin for a 24-yard strike to set up the game-winner by Philichi.
Newport had raced out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, as Routen hit Sample for a 51-yard touchdown on the Knights’ first drive and Conner Baumann exploded for touchdown runs of 53 and 54 yards. Routen finished 6-for-7 for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and Baumann finished with 22 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns. But Bellarmine Prep limited Baumann to just nine carries for 29 yards in the second half.
“Mr. Baumann has our respect,” said Larsen. “Their team has our respect. We knew coming in it was going to be rough and tumble.”
The Lions struggled on the ground early, as Nathan Goltermann was limited to just nine carries for 49 yards. But Millie started to get the passing game going midway through the second quarter, connecting with McKay for a 14-yard touchdown to cut it to 21-7 with 5:18 to go until halftime. He connected with McKay for an 11-yard score on the Lions’ next drive to make it 21-14 with 1:49 until the break. Millie finished 20-for-27 for 308 yards and three touchdowns.
“The last couple games we’ve been pounding it and doing well with the run game,” Millie said. “We just switched it up, and the pass game worked too. We’re hitting on all cylinders the last couple weeks.”
Bellarmine Prep advances to host Bothell in the state quarterfinals on Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. at Mount Tahoma Stadium. The Lions and Cougars have faced off two of the last three years in the state playoffs.
LAKES BLANKED BY MEADOWDALE
It couldn’t have started much worse for Lakes against Meadowdale. The Lancers committed turnovers on their first two drives, and lost quarterback Nick Webster to an early knee injury on their way to a season-ending 24-0 loss to the Mavericks in the 3A state playoffs on Nov. 15 at Edmonds-Woodway High School.
Webster was intercepted by Josiah Evans on the third play of the game, and the Mavericks converted it into a 34-yard field goal by Brett Schafer. Then, after scrambling for 46 yards on the first play of the second drive, Webster was pushed out of bounds and came up hobbling. He left the game with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
“That’s the heart and soul of our team,” said Lakes head coach Dave Miller. “It really sent our kids for a loop. We were reeling. We made a lot of mistakes. We played so well last week and just didn’t have it tonight.”
A botched handoff by Caleb Lyons was recovered by the Mavericks’ Marzel Simmons three plays later, and Malik Braxton scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0 with 5:10 to go in the first quarter. Meadowdale forced a quick three-and-out defensively, and was in the end zone again with 22 seconds to go in the first quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Jeremiah Evans.
“That first quarter kind of told the tale right there,” Miller said. “Our kids in the second half battled a lot harder and played with a lot of pride, so I was proud of them.”
Kemonee Jenkins led the Lancers downfield early in the second quarter with two long runs, but the drive stalled out and the Lancers had to punt. Jenkins was intercepted by Jimmie Bruders on the third play of the next drive, and Evans connected with Charlie White on a 14-yard touchdown pass with five seconds to go in the first half to cap a 14-play, 54-yard drive.
Robert Reiten came on at quarterback in the third quarter for Lakes, but was intercepted on the second play of the first drive and later lost a fumble. Meadowdale, meanwhile, began running down the clock behind running back Rory Spillum, who finished with 34 carries for 118 yards.
The Lancers had their best chance to score after recovering Spillum’s fumble at their own 43-yard line and marching inside the Meadowdale 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But sophomore Jaiave Magalei – the Lancers’ fourth quarterback – was pressured on 4th-and-goal and his pass fell incomplete.
“I was proud of those two young quarterbacks for going in there and battling,” Miller said. “We threw them in the fire and they did some good things.”