Crunch time had arrived, and Washington High coach Mike Von Rueden faced something he never had in football Friday night.
Four convert-or-go home plays.
One by one, the Patriots passed the test – and ultimately survived for a 22-21 non-league victory at Centralia.
After Washington receiver Victor Gamboa got the Patriots a first down on a fourth-and-2 screen play with under a minute to go, the SPSL 2A contenders faced another do-or-die play – this time on fourth and goal at the Tigers’ 1-yard line.
On second effort, senior Jordan Mezias scored on a quarterback keeper up the middle with 37 seconds to go.
“It looked like he was initially stopped,” Von Rueden said. “But he kept moving his feet. He acted like he had been there before.”
With his placekicker out, Von Rueden went for a two-point conversion – and got it when running back Ramsey Davis got in the end zone off tackle to give the Patriots a 22-21 advantage.
But the drama was not finished.
Centralia got the ball back near midfield, drove to the Patriots’ 20 with 8.6 seconds remaining and called upon kicker Bo Ramirez for a game-winning field goal.
But Ramirez pulled the 32-yarder left, and Washington escaped with a win.
Bethel 34, at Tahoma 24: John Thompson shook off cramps to score a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns – the last one a 73-yard scamper with 5:31 remaining – and the Braves won a SPSL crossover game in Maple Valley.
Thompson rushed for 183 yards and caught four passes for 82 yards.
At Yelm 49, Olympic 48 (OT): Kyle Brownell tied the game in the extra period on a 14-yard run, and ninth-grader Vernon Parker won it by making the PAT kick in a wild non-league game.
The Trojans grabbed a 48-42 lead on Randy Grier’s 15-yard pass to Zach Thornton, but they missed the PAT kick.
Wilson 21, at Bremerton 14: Moses Lewis passed for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns – the last one a 13-yarder to Ben Matz right before halftime, and the Rams held on for a road win.
At Clover Park 22, Foster 8: The Warriors’ defense recovered three Foster fumbles, and registered a safety as Clover Park won a low-scoring tussle at Harry E. Lang Stadium.
The decisive score came on quarterback Keila Pritchard’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Brady Daly with 1:34 to go in the first half, giving the Warriors a 14-6 lead.
At Spanaway Lake 24, Puyallup 21: This time, the Sentinels did not let it get away in the fourth quarter in earning their first win of the season at Art Crate Field – and first against the Vikings since 2009.
Joe Martin’s 8-yard scoring scamper late in the third quarter broke a 14-14 tie, and Logan Stegner kicked a 28-yard field goal with 3:23 to go to sew it up for Spanaway Lake.
At Rogers 27, Beamer 6: Andrew Nelson scored twice in the second half, including a second touchdown on a 2-yard run with 5:38 remaining, and the Rams pulled away for a victory at Sparks Stadium.
At Kent-Meridian 28, Kentlake 21: Sai Ta’amu forced a Kentlake fumble, and Treyvonn Wilson scooped it up and returned it 30 yards with less than two minutes to go to set up the Royals’ upset of the defending divisional champions at French Field.
The turnover led to Thomas Kemp’s 1-yard TD run to break a 21-21 tie.