On the first play of the Seahawks’ opening possession, Bellevue senior linebacker Mustafa Branch blew up Peninsula senior running back Major Ali for a 5-yard loss.
For the Seahawks’ offense, that’s the way it went the entire night against the top-ranked Wolverines. And for the third straight year, Peninsula’s (10-2) season came to an end against Bellevue (12-0) in the Class 3A state quarterfinals, 31-7.
Branch’s tone-setting hit was the first of many hits for the Bellevue defense, which suffocated the Peninsula attack. The Seahawks didn’t move into Wolverines territory until the fourth quarter.
“I got the first chance,” Branch said. “From then on out, we just kept pounding them. That was a ridiculous first half.”
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The Bellevue defense was indeed ridiculous, holding Peninsula to zero first-half points. Stud tailback Ali was held to minus-9 rushing yards at the half. But the Bellevue offense? It was just a bit more pedestrian. At half, the Wolverines only lead 10-0. For the most part, Peninsula bottled up Bellevue’s Wing-T offense.
“They had a great scheme,” Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said. “They beat us pretty good up front, give them a lot of credit.”
Dominating time of possession and field position, the Wolverines kept chipping away and exploded for a big third quarter, outscoring Peninsula 21-0 on touchdown runs from junior Isaiah Gilchrist, junior Christoph Hirota and junior Ercle Terrell. The Peninsula offense, however, continued to sputter.
“They’re an excellent defensive team,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said. “Everyone saw that coming in. We certainly threw some gas on that fire tonight by picking tonight to not execute very well on our offense. It was kind of a double whammy for us.”
Peninsula senior quarterback Robert Kvinsland connected with junior wide receiver Kyle Olson-Urbon on a 34-yard pass down the sideline for the Seahawks’ lone score.
“We did some great things tonight,” Filkins said. “The scoreboard does not reflect the character and effort that we played with. I’ve never been any more proud to be a Seahawk.”
Bellevue has now won 66 games in a row.