Two teams, two running plays achingly close to the goal line, two fumbles into the end zone.
The difference: North Thurston High School overcame its early failure. Shelton could not come back from its late-game fumble – which cost the Highclimbers a go-ahead touchdown and their only points of the second half.
The result was a 21-20 Rams victory and Shelton’s first loss of the season in an important Narrows League 3A game Friday night at Highclimber Stadium in Shelton.
Ralph Kinne, the state’s leading rusher, took a handoff at the North Thurston 10 with 2:30 left in the game and dragged a tackler most of the way to the goal. He appeared to have broken the plane of the goal line with the ball but was ruled to have lost control of the ball just short of the stripe.
Touchback, and game over, as the Rams were able to peel off three first downs to run out the clock.
Kinne carried 33 times for 189 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown but didn’t get the yard that might have won the game.
“It’s irrelevant,” said Shelton coach Matt Hinkle, who refused to speculate about the goal-line play. “There were other things we should have done better.”
North Thurston coach Rocky Patchin saw his defense come up big not only on that crucial play, but also on a fourth-down stop inside the Rams 10 on a long Highclimbers drive after the second-half kickoff took up most of the third period.
“Two warrior teams,” Patchin said. “Our defense came up with some tremendous plays.”
In the first half, North Thurston (6-1, 3-0 Narrows) and host Shelton (6-1, 2-1) combined for 41 points, five turnovers and 100 yards in penalties.
The Rams came achingly close to another score after a 78-yard drive with the opening kickoff of the second half, the biggest gainer of which was a 15-yard run by Ande Grantham. But it was Grantham, after running for 13 yards, who fumbled at the Shelton 2, and the Highclimbers recovered in the end zone.
North Thurston rushed for 286 yards in the game, led by Maurice Manning’s 21 carries for 101 yards.
Olympia 14, at Gig Harbor 0: The Bears scored on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Tides at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy.
Olympia used a 3-yard run by Michael Naipo with 11:25 left and Alex Johnson’s 63-yard touchdown catch with 7:44 remaining to break open a scoreless game.
At Bellarmine 56, Yelm 7: Jacob Swilley scored first on a 5-yard run, but it was all Lions from there, as third-ranked Bellarmine rolled past the Tornados.
Colorado-bound quarterback Sefo Liufau was 10 of 15 passing for 163 yards and three touchdowns as Bellarmine put the game out of reach with a 35-point second quarter.
At Graham-Kapowsin 54, Puyallup 36: Teague James, Kahil Dawson and Brady Austin starred for the Eagles’ offense in a win over the Vikings. James rushed for 201 yards and three TDs on 23 carries. Austin completed 9 of 16 passes for 245 yards and two scores – with six receptions, 196 yards and both TDs going to Dawson.
At Lakes 21, Auburn Mountainview 14: Touchdown runs by Kevin Thompson (44 yards), Caleb Lyons (7) and Dominic Milton (23) lifted the Lancers past the Lions.
Although Auburn Mountainview has never beaten Lakes, the Lions made it interesting when Devin Bryant returned a Lakes fumble 80 yards for a TD in the third quarter to cut the lead to seven after Joey Cassano’s extra point.
At Steilacoom 29, Orting 13: Brian Thomas scored four touchdowns to help the Sentinels erase a 13-6 deficit in the victory over the Cardinals.
Jaysen Yoro gave Orting a 13-6 lead with his 14-yard run in the second quarter. But from there it was all Thomas – who scored on a 4-yard reception from Brenden Raschke in the second quarter – as he scored on second-half runs of 81, 20 and 2 yards.
Franklin Pierce 22, at Fife 14: Reilley Peirce rushed for three TDs, and Samule Mintah rushed for 160 yards to lead the Cardinals past the Trojans.
At Capital 56, Black Hills 7: Kai Van Sickle rushed for 294 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries in the Cougars’ big win over the Wolves.
Capital rolled up 582 yards of offense, including 452 on the ground.
At Tumwater 48, Centralia 0: The Thunderbirds, behind a 36-point second quarter, won their sixth consecutive game to remain undefeated in conference play. Thirty of the points in the second quarter came in 5:48 span.