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Bellevue loses to Katy, TX
There were no moral victories for Bellevue Saturday night.
The Wolverines didn't come to Texas to compete with the Katy Tigers - they came to win.
So after their 35-17 loss to Katy, players weren't interested in any of the praising talk that came with hanging with one of the nation's top teams for the majority of the game.
"This loss," said Bellevue running back Freddie Levine, "humbled us as a team."
Bellevue came down to prove that they could handle the competition from the state where football is religion. What they got instead was a Texas-sized education in Katy football.
Katy (2-1) racked up 195 yards on the ground and made a series of critical first-half plays to control the game and send Bellevue to its first loss in 15 contests.
The Wolverines (1-1) were looking to score the game's first points when the Tigers defense made the first huge play of the game.
After Bellevue marched down the field on an 11-play, 52-yard drive - which included a 22-yard run by David Nguyen on a fake punt - they faced a 4th-and-5 from the Katy 8-yard line. The Wolverines lined up for a 25-yard field goal, but Stanford-bound Zach Swanson swatted down the kick. Katy mishandled the ball and Bellevue recovered, looking at a 1st-and-goal from the Katy 9-yard line.
"We did a good job blocking that field goal but then we had a bone-head play," said Katy coach Gary Joseph.
Three plays later, the Katy defense redeemed itself with a second big play. The Tiger defense stuffed Nguyen on a 4th-and-goal from the Katy 2-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
"That was the biggest momentum changer of the game," said Katy senior safety Sam Holl, a three-year starter on the squad and a Baylor commit. "They had their offense going and that was a big stop for us. We took control of the game right there."
The Tigers responded with a 99-yard, 14-play drive that chewed up over five minutes of clock and culminated when Will Jeffery scored on a 6-yard touchdown run up the middle.
"That was big," Joseph said. "We stopped them from getting points and then went the distance of the field."
The Wolverines tied the game less than three minutes later when quarterback Joe Joe Connor took a quarterback keeper 38-yards for a touchdown.
"That's just a simple play for us," Connor said. "That's what happens with our good fakes."
After a Vernon Jeffries touchdown gave Katy a 14-7 lead, Bellevue's Race Sciabica blasted a 46-yard field goal to end that half to cut the deficit to 14-10.
The second half was all Katy - and all Jefferies. After Jeffery, Katy's starting back, went down with a knee injury, Jeffries stepped in to carry the ball 15 times in the second half for 63 yards and two more scores.
"When [Jeffery] went down, I knew I needed to step up and be the man the rest of the game," Jeffries said.
Katy's Colt Attwood returned a punt 60-yards for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to stretch Katy's lead to 28-10.
"We knew where the ball was on every play, we just couldn't stop them," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "That usually doesn't happen to us, we're usually the ones that do that to other teams."
Nguyen scored on a 7-yard run to get Bellevue's final points with 5:16 left in the game. Jefferies' 7-yard score with 26 seconds left was the final dagger for Katy.
"This was the best team we've faced," Goncharoff said. "And we've faced some good teams."
Katy racked up 272 yards of total offense and received a steady game from quarterback Michael Stojkovic, who went 4-for-4 passing for 77 yards and added 21 yards on the ground.
The humidity appeared to be a factor for Bellevue, as several Wolverines began to cramp up in the second half.
"I get tired playing just defense, I can't imagine playing two ways," Holl said. "I think that really took a toll on them."
The Wolverines rushed for a total of 205 yards; Bellevue had five different players run the ball, with Nguyen leading all Wolverines with 92 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Connor had 11 carries for 84 yards and a score while Levine, Will Fields and Sean Coley combined for 16 carries and 29 yards.
"We did what we needed to do, but we just couldn't break anything," Goncharoff said. "We had some chances and just couldn't do it."
The loss was the first in Bellevue history to an out-of-state team. They play Grant of Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
"We had to play flawless in this game," Goncharoff said. "And we didn't."
Joel Willits can be reached at 425.453.5045.