Sumner High School football coach Keith Ross was confused, yet joyous.
Why did the Graham-Kapowsin Eagles kick it to Connor Wedington?
“I don’t know,” Ross said. “I’m glad they did.”
Wedington returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes, 5 seconds remaining — weaving left and right. His jersey snapped onto his back when he ran through a defender who had grabbed it, then he juked one last player before finally reaching the end zone.
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That gave No. 5 Sumner the lead, and one they wouldn’t let go of in a 34-27 victory against No. 3 Graham-Kapowsin in a 4A South Puget Sound League game on Thursday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
The Spartans (4-0) trailed 27-24 before that return.
“I wasn’t going to go down,” said Wedington, who verbally committed to the University of Washington. “It’s a critical situation, we’re down, we’re losing and I had my opportunity, and I had to step up and be a leader of this team. And I executed.”
So why kick it to Wedington for the first time all night?
“We didn’t want to give them the short field,” Graham-Kapowsin coach Eric Kurle said. “Bad call. My fault. It’s my fault.
“He made a great run, he did a great job. You kick yourself in the pants for kicking it deep.”
Graham-Kapowsin (3-1) had just taken the 27-24 lead when it capped a 78-yard drive with Brandon Becker’s third 2-yard touchdown run of the game. There was 2:22 remaining.
Then Wedington happened.
“The one opportunity I get to truly have the ball in open space, I have to take advantage of that,” Wedington said. “They had great blocks, and we just executed.”
Tyson Rainwater followed with his second interception of G-K quarterback Dylan Morris, and Nick Phillips kicked a 27-yard field goal with 25.3 seconds remaining.
Graham-Kapowsin’s Kurle hadn’t faced Sumner’s Ross in a high school game. They previously faced off only when Kurle was a quarterback at Pacific Lutheran and Ross was at Central Washington.
But now they’re in the same league, three years after Sumner was in the 2A SPSL. Last year, Sumner was in the 3A SPSL.
Now, as a 4A school?
“I think we can run with the big dogs,” said junior running back Tre Week, who had five catches for a team-high 124 yards.
Sumner had none of the momentum in the first half.
Then, as suddenly as a Rainwater interception return, Sumner had all of it.
Rainwater darted on third down for a Graham-Kapowsin pass to the right sideline and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to cut G-K’s lead to 13-7.
“Game changer,” Ross said of the play. “Instead of them going up 21-0, we’re in the ballgame.”
“That was the reason we won,” Sumner quarterback Luke Ross said.
Then the Spartans put the game on Luke Ross’ back.
Graham-Kapowsin was bent on stuffing the run. Sumner’s veer offense produced 32 yards on 17 carries. Wedington had eight carries for two yards.
Luke Ross put Sumner ahead when he flung a pass off his back foot to a wide-open Tre Weed, who ran it 63 yards to put the Spartans ahead 14-13, after the extra point, with 46.7 seconds left in the first half.
Luke Ross was 12 of 26 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
His father, Keith Ross, said that offensive coordinator Spencer Crace changed the game plan at halftime.
“He said, ‘We’re going lightning. We’re spreading it out and throwing it,’ ” Keith Ross said.
“Two years ago, (teams) loaded nine in the box and we couldn’t do anything about it. Now we’re pretty good.”
Graham-Kapowsin running back Micah Smith had 36 carries for 233 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He’s rushed for at least 200 yards in each of G-K’s four games.
“We gave up big plays,” Kurle said. “We played really pretty good besides giving up big plays.”
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No. 3 GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN
No. 5 SUMNER
GK – Brandon Becker 2 run (Colin Manners kick)
GK – Micah Smith 70 run (kick failed)
S – Tyson Rainwater 50 interception return (Nick Phillips kick)
S – Tre Weed 63 pass from Luke Ross (Phillips kick)
S – Weed 43 pass from Ross (Phillips kick)
GK – Becker 2 run (pass failed)
S – Phillips 27 field goal
RUSHING – GK: Micah Smith 36-233; Aaron Olmos 7-25; Brandon Becker 5-13. Sumner: Tre Weed 7-24; Ben Wilson 2-6; Connor Wedington 8-2.
PASSING – GK: Dylan Morris 8-18-2-89. Sumner: Luke Ross 12-26-0-260.
RECEIVING – GK: Eian Olmos 3-31; Tre Mason 2-29; Tyler Wheeler 1-23. Sumner: Tre Weed 5-124; Connor Wedington 5-97; Alexander Zaragoza 1-26.