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No.1 Bellevue fends off No.5 Juanita 21-14 | Slideshow
The touchdown that wasn't turned into the touchdown that won it.
An inadvertent whistle wiped out a 55-yard touchdown run by Bellevue's Kendrick Van Ackeren, but the No.1 Wolverines recovered and continued their drive, scoring 12 plays later for the decisive touchdown in a 21-14 victory over No.5 Juanita.
Although senior Tyler Hasty officially ended Juanita's comeback bid with an over-the-shoulder interception with just 1:16 to play, it was Latrelle Dukes' 4-yard touchdown run with 7:29 left after the blown call that gave Bellevue (5-1, 4-0 KingCo 3A/2A) the final advantage.
"I came back to the huddle, I was the one who scored in the first place, and I said 'guys, we're good, we're going to score anyway,'" said Van Ackeren. "Keep pushing, go hard and we'll be fine."
The Rebels (5-1, 3-1 KingCo 3A/2A) had two more drives to score, but both ended with ended with interceptions. Van Ackeren picked off quarterback Derek Kaufman with 5:46 to play and Hasty finished off the game with the final interception.
Bellevue started out the highly-anticipated matchup with a big play. Van Ackeren took the first snap of the game, rolled right and then reversed field, juking past several Juanita defenders and raced downfield for a 91-yard touchdown score just four seconds into the game.
"Honestly, I think that play was lucky," he said. "I stopped, looked upfield and all I saw were giant people in blue."
The Wolverines took advantage of a Rebels miscue, recovering a muffed punt return and scoring five plays later on a Van Ackeren 35-yard touchdown pass to Joey Moore for a 14-0 lead.
Then Juanita finally broke through. Behind the strong legs of Jeremiah Laufasa, who rushed for a game-high 144 yards, the Rebels drove from their own 1-yard line down to the Bellevue 20. That's when Kaufman hit Austin Hilliker in the right side of the end zone and the senior fought off two Bellevue defenders to haul in the touchdown pass that halved Bellevue's lead with under a minute left in the first half.
The Rebels received the ball in the second half and promptly marched 77-yards to tie the game at 14. It took everything Juanita had, though, to break into the end zone. The Rebels had first-and-goal on Bellevue's 3-yard line, but needed all four downs to score. Charles Benjamin appeared to be stopped short of the end zone on fourth down, but his second effort extended the ball over the goal line to tie the game.
"We knew that we needed to eliminate their big plays," said Bellevue senior linebacker William Bissell. "We just had to maintain our composure after that."
The Wolverines did just that, never letting the Rebels cross into their territory for the remainder of the game. Bellevue didn't score again after Dukes' touchdown, but managed to grind away precious time off the clock. Dukes rushed for 93 yards on 24 carries to lead the Wolverines in the win, which firmly keeps Bellevue atop the Class 3A rankings.
"It's big," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "You know, they're a tough team."