This week, the ending was less theatrical.
The game-winning touchdown pass from Tumwater’s Noah Andrews to Cade Otton came with just under two minutes to go, instead of two seconds.
Following a short drive produced by Cy Hicks’ fumble recovery for Tumwater with three minutes, 27 seconds to go, Andrews threw a 6-yard dart to Otton for the go-ahead score.
The top-ranked T-Birds took their only lead of the game, 27-20, and held off the Titans on the ensuing drive Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium to remain undefeated.
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“Most of the game was kind of stagnant, and then the fourth quarter the game picked up,” Hicks said. “Everybody was affected by the energy.”
For the second time in as many weeks, Tumwater knocked off an upper-class opponent. It beat Bellevue, then ranked No. 6 in Class 3A, last week with a last-second Hail Mary pass.
“We scheduled these two teams for a reason,” T-Birds coach Sid Otton said. “We had to play 48 minutes. That’s what our team needed — the last two weeks, come at the end and find a way to win it.
“I think that’s a pretty good investment for our future.”
Tumwater struggled to convert several times, turning the ball over on downs five times, and losing another two possessions to turnovers. But it was the T-Birds’ defense that kept the game within reach.
“The defense has just been playing outstanding,” Sid Otton said. “They created all of these opportunities for us.”
At times, Tumwater had trouble cashing in on stops, but did convert three of Union’s four turnovers — two fumbles, two interceptions — into scoring drives.
Until the final two minutes, Union fended off Tumwater, allowing three ties, but never a change in the lead.
On the first play of Union’s first possession, quarterback Lincoln Victor pitched the ball to Braedon Ensley, who fired a 63-yard pass to Keithen Shepard. Lincoln tossed it to Keithen again on the following play, and he scurried seven yards for a touchdown — with 28 seconds elapsed on the clock.
Cade Otton recovered a fumble late in the first that set Tumwater up at Union’s 48-yard line. Andrews immediately targeted him for a 33-yard pass to bring Tumwater to the 5-yard line. Jakob Holbrook punched it in three plays later for the T-Birds first score.
That tied the score, 6-6.
Nehru Faalevao gave Union its second lead on a 2-yard run in the second. Tumwater survived a near-interception on the ensuing drive, but fumbled the ball away. Two plays later, Zach Jones — who had two interceptions — picked off Faalevao and scurried 26 yards into the end zone.
That tied the score, 13-13, at the half.
But again, the Titans drove for a go-ahead touchdown on Abe Smith’s 1-yard run in the third, following a 27-yard pass from Faalevao to Shepard. Tumwater evened it at 20-20 on an 8-yard run by Andrews on the ensuing drive.
Union punted on its next possession, and Tumwater turned it over on downs with 3:32 to play. Cy Hicks recovered the fumble on Union’s first play, leading to Otton’s eventual game-winning touchdown reception from Andrews.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Hicks said. “It lets us know we can face adversity later on, it’s good for postseason. But we’ve got to stay humble and know it’s one game at a time. We can’t overlook the next opponent.”
NO. 1 (2A) TUMWATER
U – Keithen Shepard 7 pass from Lincoln Victor (pass failed)
T – Jakob Holbrook 2 run (kick failed)
U – Nehru Faalevao 2 run (Connor Culp kick)
T – Zach Jones 26 interception (Noah Andrews kick)
U – Abe Smith 1 run (Culp kick)
T – Andrews 8 run (Andrews kick)
T – Cade Otton 10 pass from Andrews (Andrews kick)