Mount Tahoma Stadium and Bellarmine Prep’s football team have become a nightmare for the Bothell Cougars.
Three times since 2010, the Cougars have faced the Lions in the state playoffs at Mount Tahoma. Each time, Bothell has lost by a single score.
The latest came in the form of a 20-17 overtime loss Saturday in the Class 4A quarterfinals after Lions junior Matthew Philichi nailed a 37-yard field goal.
“I had a few of those this year,” Philichi said. “Even last week, I had a chance to make it for the team. Now we get another week ... another week with my family. I did it for my family.”
Bellarmine Prep (10-2) will play Camas (12-0), a
47-28 winner over Eastlake, in the semifinals next week at the Tacoma Dome.
“They are a good football team,” Bothell coach Tom Bainter said. “I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and their team. It’s unfortunate we keep getting matched up in the same bracket.”
In overtime, the Lions received the ball first. Their drive stalled, so coach Tom Larsen put his team’s season on Philichi’s foot.
“He’s been as big as he’s always been,” Larsen said. “It’s one of those things where (he’s) been there for us more than once. Special teams is one-third of the game.”
Even after falling behind, Bothell (9-3) wouldn’t go quietly. After the Cougars drove to the 10-yard line, their next two plays would lead to heartbreak.
Bothell workhorse Samuel McPherson
(107 yards, 23 carries, 1 TD) had a holding call negate what would have been a winning 10-yard touchdown run. On the next play, Lions cornerback Garrett McKay intercepted Bothell’s Ross Bowers to end the game.
“They hadn’t been throwing the ball my way (all game),” McKay said. “In overtime, I knew they were going to try to score and win. I was just hoping (Bothell) would give me a chance and throw my way.”
The Cougars had a chance to win on the Bellarmine 22-yard line with 1:55 left in regulation, but Lions cornerback Drew Griffin made his second interception and took it to the Bothell 44.
“That was McKay’s call there,” Griffin said. “He said to watch for when (Bowers) steps back because he keeps his back to (McPherson) when he’s going to throw. I just read that and reacted to the play.”
The Lions moved just into Philichi’s field-goal range, but delay-of-game and false-start penalties with 12 seconds left moved them back out of it.
Lions quarterback Lou Millie found McKay on the sideline. McKay leaped out of bounds to stop the clock, but the referees ruled him inbounds and drained the clock to zero.
McKay finished with a game-high 130 yards on 12 receptions.