Down 24 points at halftime, Sumner High coach Keith Ross made no mention of the word comeback while addressing his team in the locker room
But he did insist that his players play hard and finish strong — a message that was received loud and clear.
Third-ranked Sumner rattled off 30 unanswered points and stormed back to capture a thrilling 37-31 victory over Fife on Friday night in an SPSL 2A battle at Fife High School.
“I told them I don’t care if we win or lose, but this second half we better win and we better show what we’re made of,” Ross said.
After an interception brought their opening second-half drive to an abrupt end, Sumner (8-0) calmly refocused, driving 80 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Chase Torgison connected with Josiah Fidecaro on a 56-yard TD bomb, cutting the deficit to 31-15 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter after Dejon Lynch ran in the two-point conversion.
Then things started to unravel for Fife (5-3). The Trojans muffed a punt return, giving it back to Sumner in the red zone. Torgison quickly scored on a 3-yard keeper, and Lynch ran in another two-point conversion to close the gap to 31-23. Less than one minute later, Sumner was back on offense and Brandon Tuilaepa ripped off a 61-yard touchdown run. The third quarter closed with the Spartans down only 31-29.
“Right off the bat, I saw a big gaping hole and then I got to the second level and I just tried putting on the jets,” said Tuilaepa, who finished with 147 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Fife struggled to sustain long drives on offense in the second half, and the Sumner defense started to figure out how to slow the Wing-T
offense — even without injured linebacker Jessie Lindal, the league’s leading tackler.
“We didn’t look at it as us getting our butts kicked (in the first half), we looked at it as an opportunity to be challenged,” Tuilaepa said.
After Sumner stopped Fife on the Spartans’ 34-yard line, the offense completed its scoring flurry. Torgison hooked up with Triston Wedington for a 45-yard touchdown with 7:55 left, and Lynch added another conversion. Torgison passed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, finishing with four total.
Fife piled up 286 yards rushing in the first half, getting rushing touchdowns from Monike Sarte, Isiah Kelly and Keanu SongCuan in building a large lead.