The newly-renovated grandstands were packed.
All that was needed to make the reopening at Bellarmine Prep complete was a victory over Lakes.
The Lancers did not let that happen.
Dominic Milton scored from the 1-yard line with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining as the Lancers held on for a 42-38 victory in what will go down as one of the best games in years in the South Sound.
Lancers coach Dave Miller conceded as much afterward.
“It was a tremendous high school game,” he said.
After Milton’s score, the Lions had one final drive for a potential game-winning touchdown – and drove all the way to the Lakes’ 10-yard line with 3 seconds remaining.
On the game’s final play, quarterback Sefo Liufau – who threw for 327 yards – watched as his final pass fell harmlessly in the back of the end zone for an incompletion.
“Sefo picked us apart ... and it was a chess match,” Miller said. “I am just really proud of our young guys.”
The game featured 852 total yards between the two teams.
It looked like the Lions were going to have little trouble to begin the game, limiting Lakes to 4 yards of offense in the first 12 minutes, but a 98-yard kickoff return from Caleb Lyons evened things up at 7 heading into the second quarter.
That’s when things started getting crazy.
The Lions and Lancers traded touchdowns over the next quarter, a 5-yard touchdown run by Bellarmine Prep’s Lou Millie was immediately answered with a dominating Lakes drive, capped off by a Milton 1-yard touchdown run, the first of his two touchdowns against the Lions.
The Narrows League power came right back with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Garrett McKay which put the Lions ahead, 21-14, with just under two minutes to go in the half.
The biggest play of the game might have been the last play of the first half – or at least it should have been.
An 18 yard pass to Isaac Williams looked to take the teams to halftime, but an untimed down allowed Lancers quarterback Rhys Gervais to find Sammie Long in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Lakes botched the extra point to trail by one at intermission.
The win spoiled a huge day for the junior McKay, who finished with 300 yards of offense.
McKay also had a 69-yard punt return called back after offsetting penalties forced a re-kick.
McKay did return the ensuing punt 30 yards to put the Lions into scoring position, and Matthew Philichi’s 35-yard field goal made it 38-35 with 6:30 remaining.
Last week, the Lancers were undone by seven turnovers in their loss to Woodinville.
Lakes had two turnovers against Bellarmine Prep, but both could have spelled an 0-2 start for the Lancers.
Gervais fired an ill-timed pass in the end zone that was intercepted by the Lions in the third quarter, and another interception with 5:20 remaining gave the Lions the ball with a three-point lead and an offense that couldn’t be stopped.
A costly holding penalty stalled the Lions’ drive, however, and the Lancers marched down the field for the game-winning touchdown.