Sam Fagerness spun himself into Napavine High School football lore Friday night — at a time when his offense needed it the most.
The sophomore tailback’s toe-twirling, screen-pass maneuver produced the go-ahead score, and top-ranked Napavine survived a scare from seventh-ranked Toledo, 28-22, in the Class 2B semifinals in the Tacoma Dome.
The Tigers (12-0) will play the winner of the Okanogan and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague semifinal (Saturday, 4 p.m., at Lions Field in Moses Lake) for the state title this upcoming Friday, 4 p.m., at the Tacoma Dome.
Napavine won the Class 2B state title in 2008 in coach Josh Fay’s second season.
The Tihers doubled up the Indians in yardage — 346 to 173 — and held the ball for 28 minutes, 37 seconds.
Yet they trailed in the second half for the first time this season after Dalton Yoder connected with Grant McEwen for the second time on a touchdown pass, this time a 14-yarder to put Toledo (11-2) up 20-14 with 8:23 to go.
And considering Napavine had buried Toledo, 36-6, during the regular season, the Indians were feeling good about their position in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers drove to the Indians 29 on their next series, and faced a third-and-8 play.
That is when Fay dialed up a nifty throwback screen play to the left side. Wyatt Stanley’s pass was caught by Fagerness, who had a defender on his inside.
Fagerness picked the perfect time to spin left to the outside. Nobody was out there.
“Risky move,” he said. “But it paid off.”
Fagerness barreled down the left sideline for the 29-yard score to tie the game. Jarod Hammond’s point-after kick gave the Tigers a 21-20 lead with 5:39 remaining.
“In pregame, we come out here and work on our footwork — and that is one of the things (Fagerness) works on,” Stanley said. “He scored. That is all we can ask for.”
The Napavine defense forced a three-and-out on Toledo’s next drive, and the Tigers put the finishing touches on the victory with Stanley’s 59-yard touchdown pass to Cole Doughty with 2:14 to go.
But it was Fagerness’ score that got it all started, and it will certainly be talked about around town for years according to Stanley.
“Plays like that,” he said, “they remember for a while.”