Things looked dicey for the Bellevue Wolverines football team throughout the duration of the first quarter against the Yelm Tornados.
Yelm scored three touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 20-0 lead with 36 minutes left in regulation.
The Wolverines didn’t get rattled.
Bellevue outscored Yelm 37-0 in the final three quarters en route to a comeback 37-20 win in the Class 3A state quarterfinals on Nov. 17 at Bellevue Memorial Stadium. The Wolverines improved their overall record to 12-0 with the win. Bellevue left cornerback Jalen Love, who had two passes defensed as well as an interception with 8:41 left in the second quarter, knew it was just a matter of time before his team took control.
“We came out slow and we had to get going. We knew that we could come back and knew they couldn’t go all four quarters with us. We kept them at 20 points (the final three quarters of play) the rest of the game. We just kept battling and kept pounding it on the ground. We knew that we were wearing them down,” Love said.
After falling behind by 20 points, the Wolverines stuck to their game plan of running the football. Bellevue cut Yelm’s lead to 20-7 on Alex Reid’s 2-yard touchdown run with 8:58 left in the second quarter. Wolverines senior Drew Fowler scored on a 7-yard touchdown with 4:39 left in the second quarter, slicing Yelm’s lead to 20-14. Fowler busted loose for a 40-yard touchdown scamper with 1:02 left in second quarter, giving the Wolverines a 21-20 lead.
Bellevue would never trail again.
Everything the Wolverines football program is known for was on display in the third quarter. Bellevue, which received the second half kickoff, put together a memorable drive for the ages. The Wolverines marched 75 yards in 15 plays, chewing up eight minutes, 10 seconds off the clock. The drive, which included 15 running plays, culminated with a Fowler 3-yard touchdown run with 3:50 left in the third quarter, extending Bellevue’s lead to 28-20. By the time the third quarter had ended, the Tornados ran just three offensive plays because of Bellevue’s ball- control offense and stingy defense. The Tornados were shut out after scoring 20 points in the first quarter.
Bellevue senior quarterback/defensive back Joey Echigoshima, who picked off Yelm quarterback Kyle Robinson with 2:07 left in the second quarter, believes playing in close games throughout the 2018 season paid off when they faced the adversity of a 20-point deficit against Yelm.
“We didn’t think anything of it. We have been in these situations before. We just knew we had to come out and play our game. We weren’t worried at all. We knew we weren’t going to lose this game,” Echigoshima said.
Fowler scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes left in regulation, extending Bellevue’s lead to 35-20. Bellevue linebacker Nick Bowar sacked Robinson in the end zone for a safety for the final points of the night with 6:12 left on the clock. The Wolverines will face the Eastside Catholic Crusaders in the Class 3A state semifinals on Nov. 24.
“It will be fun. We know all of those guys, so it will be a good game. We know what to expect from them and we will be ready,” Echigoshima said.
Love said advancing to the Class 3A state championship game has been a goal for his squad since practices kicked off in August.
“We can’t wait. We’re trying to get to the (Tacoma) Dome and they’re just in the way. We are just going to stay focused in practice this week and just go after it,” Love said.
Bellevue first-year head coach Michael Kneip is stoked for the showdown with the Crusaders with a berth in the Class 3A state title game on the line.
“They’re the most talented team maybe in the country. We have one D-1 guy (future Division-1 collegiate football players) and they probably have 20 guys,” Kneip said. “It is going to be a really good test.”