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Skyline rallies to beat Bellevue 28-21 | Slideshow
As his defense sought to shut down one final Bellevue drive, Skyline quarterback Max Browne stood behind the rest of his team on the sideline, staring at the game clock and swaying side to side as his team clung to a seven point lead.
The time couldn't pass fast enough for the 6-foot-5 sophomore.
"That was the longest three minutes of my life," Browne said. "I looked up at the clock and I was just pacing. I have all the confidence in my defense but that was a crazy game."
Crazy indeed. Browne rallied the Spartans from a 14-0 deficit and the Skyline defense forced Bellevue to turn the ball over on downs twice in the fourth quarter as the Spartans downed the Wolverines 28-21 at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
Browne went 24 of 42 for 240 yards and three touchdowns to pace Skyline in the matchup of the top two teams of the last decade in Washington high school football. Skyline and Bellevue combined have won 12 state titles since 2000.
No state titles were on the line Saturday night, but pride was. The two school's hadn't played since Skyline beat Bellevue 6-0 in 2007. The result was a strong turnout for both schools for the much-anticipated match up.
Things started out quickly for the Wolverines as senior quarterback Kendrick Van Ackeren scored on a 7-yard run just under five minutes into the game.
The Spartans, on the other hand, couldn't get much going offensively, and Bellevue went up 14-0 when sophomore Ari Morales broke lose for a 41-yard touchdown run halfway through the second quarter.
Then things started to click for Browne and the Skyline (1-1) offense.
Browne drove Skyline down the field and found Michael Ford open in the end zone for a 6-yard score to get the Spartans on the board. After Bellevue was forced to punt, Skyline got the ball back at their own 33-yard line with just 1:33 left in the half.
That's when Browne went to work, going 5 of 6 for 75 yards, finally hitting University of Washington recruit Kasen Williams on a 25-yard strike to tie the game at 14 with just 12 seconds left in the quarter.
"Max is doing exactly what we ask him to do," said Skyline coach Mat Taylor. "He's just making the right reads and he's been so poised."
Things carried over to the second half for the Class 4A No.2 Spartans. Bellevue went three-and-out on their opening drive and Browne led Skyline on another scoring drive, hitting Ford for his second score of the night on a 5-yard touchdown pass right at the goal line.
Bellevue fumbled at midfield in their next possession and the Spartans added their final score on the ensuing drive as Kai Jandoc plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score to put Skyline up 28-14.
"We just had to go back to the drawing board," said Williams of Skyline's offensive adjustments. "We found their flaws."
Van Ackeren broke through the Skyline defense for a 41-yard score to cut the Skyline lead to 28-21, but the Wolverines (1-1) would get no more. Browne ended up taking three knees to run out the clock on Class 3A No.1 Bellevue.
"We made mistakes and they didn't," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "You can't go up 14-0 and think the game's over. You can't make that many mistakes against a good team."
It was all smiles for Browne and the rest of the Spartans as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The quarterback gave all the credit to his offensive line and his receivers, who made life easy for him in his second varsity start. Williams finished with nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, Jordan Simone had five grabs for 50 yards, Teran Togia had 61 yards and Ford ended up with three catches for 11 yards and two scores.
"I've been around Skyline since it opened," said Browne, whose brother Mitch won a state title at quarterback for the Spartans in 2000. "I think this is the best receiving corp ever. Speed, power, height, everything. It's easy to throw to them."
As the Skyline students celebrated in the stands and his players began to trek to the locker room, Taylor took a minute to soak in the win and the surroundings at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
"Just an unbelievable game between two teams with a tremendous history," he said. "Shoot, it's a home game for us next year [against Bellevue]. Maybe we'll come back here."