The Bellevue Wolverines (2-1) pulled off a dramatic 28-27 win over the visiting Garfield Bulldogs (1-2) on Sept. 20.
After the Bulldogs quarterback Javon Tade ran for a touchdown with seven seconds left to make it a one-score game, Garfield elected to attempt a two-point conversion for the win. On the ensuing conversion attempt, Tade tried to hit a receiver in the corner of the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete.
After Bellevue recovered the onside kick attempt, they came out in victory formation to seal their second victory of the season. When Bellevue head coach Michael Kneip saw that the Bulldogs were going for two, he was concerned that his decision to go for a two-point conversion back in the second quarter could cost his team the game.
“I felt nauseous because I thought I had lost us the game by going for two earlier,” said Kneip, who was glad to see Garfield go for the win instead of kick the extra point. “We play the game to win, that’s what you do. Our kids were excited to get the opportunity to make a stop.”
The Wolverines got off to a quick start by scoring a touchdown on their first possession when quarterback Bryson Sleeper scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. The Wolverines were putting together another good drive early in the second quarter until a fumble gave the Bulldogs the ball. The Bulldogs made them pay by putting together an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tade to tie up the game at seven.
Bellevue answered right back, putting together an impressive drive thanks to a big run from running back Joby Schneider. The Wolverines capped off the drive with a 29-yard touchdown run from running back Parker Hauser. After a Garfield penalty on the extra-point attempt, Kneip elected to go for two. Bellevue was stopped on the attempt giving them a 13-7 lead. Kneip said the decision to go for two was a mistake.
“It was a bad play call by me going for two,” Kneip said. “So we left some points on the board, but we just have to continue to get better.”
Garfield took its first lead of the game after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tade with 14 seconds left in the half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Wolverines regained the lead after Sleeper found the end zone for the second time on fourth down at the 1-yard line. This time, Kneip’s gamble to go for two paid off when Schneider ran into the end zone to put Bellevue up 21-14.
Garfield answered back when Tade threw for his third touchdown to knot the game back up at 21 going into the fourth quarter.
The Wolverines put together another good drive that was kick-started by a rare pass from Sleeper to Josh Goates for 35-yards. On fourth down, running back Alex Reid scored on a 26-yard touchdown run to put Bellevue up 28-21 with nine minutes left in the game.
After the two teams traded punts, Garfield got the ball at its own 13-yard line with two minutes left. The Bulldogs marched down the field, getting the ball into the red zone with less than one minute left. With seven seconds left, Tade took a quarterback keeper into the end zone to pull Garfield within one. The two-point conversion was incomplete, capping off a back-and-forth victory for the Wolverines.
“We’re a fourth-quarter team,” Kneip said. “We work really hard and we practice really hard, we pride ourselves on that. It’s just getting the belief in them that they can hang with teams like that. Hopefully this gives us a little swagger and confidence for these young guys.”
Kneip said the game was a great test for his young team, but they responded well against a playoff quality team.
“We’re still a bunch of guys who have been playing football for about four weeks at the varsity level,” Kneip said. “I’m proud of our guys for not folding.”
The game provided the crowd at Bellevue High School with plenty to cheer about. Before the game, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett performed the coin toss as part of the Seahawks Blue Friday event. Along with Lockett, the Seahawks Dancers and the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline performed during the first half. Kneip said a big crowd can be hard to play in front of for a young team, but he said the team was not fazed at all.
“A big crowd with young guys can get them all nervous before the game,” Kneip said. “A lot of them were playing freshman football a year ago. But they didn’t really care about it, they were ready for it. But the big crowds are awesome. That’s the way football should be.”
Next, the Wolverines will face another tough test at home when they play the Camas Papermakers (3-0) at 7 p.m. Sept. 27. Last season, the Wolverines stunned the Papermakers by scoring 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter to pull off a 38-35 upset. Kneip said he has lots of respect for the Camas football program and he expects the Papermakers to look for revenge in the rematch.