SPOKANE - Matthew Philichi might not remember the last time he nailed a field goal with so much at stake, but this one should stick in his memory bank for quite some time.
Philichi kicked a 25-yard winner with 1 second remaining to lift Bellarmine Prep to a 32-29 victory over Gonzaga Prep in Saturday afternoon’s 4A state quarterfinal game.
The victory sends the Lions (11-1) to the 4A state semifinals next weekend at the Tacoma Dome to face Auburn (10-2), which defeated Mead, 21-7, Saturday.
Philichi’s winner was set up on a final drive that took the final 4 minutes, 5 seconds of the fourth quarter after Gonzaga Prep (10-2) tied it up on Griffin Hare’s 1-yard touchdown run to finish off an 80-yard drive.
From there, Bellarmine went to work, starting at its own 35-yard line. The Lions’ 12-play drive, which included Colorado-bound quarterback Sefo Liufau gaining 4 hard-earned yards to keep the drive alive on a fourth-and-3 play from the 17, set up Philichi’s winning kick after the Lions let the clock wind down to 3 seconds before calling a timeout and bringing on Philichi.
“I didn’t know it was going to be down to me, ” Philichi said. “They have faith in me and I have faith in them. They’re incredible.”
While Liufau had a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns in the first half, the Lions turned to running back Lou Millie more in the final two quarters, especially with the size advantage Bellarmine had on the offensive line.
Mllie finished with a game-high 203 yards on 39 carries. The senior gained 136 of those yards and touchdowns runs of 3 and 6 yards in the second half. It was Millie’s second-highest single-game rushing total of the season.
“We wanted to spend another week together,” Millie said. “We’re a family.”
Leading 14-12 at halftime, Bellarmine stretched the lead to 21-12 on Millie’s first touchdown after the defense picked off Bullpups quarterback Zach Bonneau in the team’s opening series of the third quarter. But a 46-yard field goal and the second of three touchdowns by Hare quickly gave Gonzaga Prep its first lead at 22-21. Hare surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season with a team-best 136 yards on 22 carries.