Before Friday’s night game against visiting Todd Beamer High School, Federal Way senior and Washington Huskies football commit Alphonzo Tuputala emphasized to his fellow teammates to ignore the off-field chatter about the upcoming contest, and focus solely on their performance.
Tuputala certainly backed up his words with action, as his 2-yard rushing touchdown with 46 seconds left at Federal Way Memorial Stadium capped a 65-yard, 4:14 scoring drive and lifted the Eagles to a 19-18 upset win over the Titans.
“I already knew,” Tuputala said. “It’s not my first time in this situation. I see myself as a playmaker, and if it’s that time, then God put me in that position for a reason. When I went up there, I had tears because we came from a 18-0 deficit. All in my mind, I said, ‘I’m getting this for my brothers.’ ”
He only carried the ball twice for 7 yards and that one score, but the impact Tuputala made was certainly felt. The linebacker was also a force on defense, recording eight tackles and helping hold the Titans — who came in averaging 62.5 points per game — to two touchdowns and a field goal.
But, the comeback bid almost failed for the Eagles (2-1). On the final drive, Federal Way was aided by three face mask penalties called on the Titans — two coming on a fourth down.
“We lost this game on Tuesday,” Beamer coach Darren McKay said. “We didn’t practice very well, sent the kids home about 45 minutes in. It was very lackluster. People want to talk about calls — the referees never beat you. We lost this game, and John’s kids battled in the second half.”
This after the Eagles entered the half with just 38 yards of offense on 22 plays.
Senior running back Milton Arnold — who finished with 97 yards and touchdown on 23 carries — got Federal Way on the board with a 29-yard touchdown run with 9:29 remaining in the third.
And the Eagles got another offensive spark from senior wide receiver Julio Chavez-Tilei, who was playing in his first game of the season.
Chavez-Tilei reeled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Corey Quinn at the 10:12 mark in the fourth quarter to cut the defecit to 18-13. Chaev-Tieli finished with three receptions for 80 yards and the one score.
Then came Tuputala’s decisive touchdown run.
“I didn’t say anything to them at half other than that they have to believe in each other, we have to love each other and we have to make sure that we trust each other,” Federal Way coach John Meagher said.
“Because if we don’t have that, and you’re down 18-0 at halftime, then nothing’s going to happen. I think they took that to heart and came out and executed what we needed to do.”
Federal Way was without senior Trey Davis, a USC commit, who was out with a knee injury. Meagher was unsure of the severity of Davis’ injury, and hopes to have him back soon.
Before the Eagles staged their second half comeback, Beamer (2-1), which hadn’t allowed a point in its first two games, appeared in control.
Senior quarterback Brandon Niksich was 21 of 36 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Both of those touchdowns came in the second quarter on passes to Alex Rogers (7 yards) and Billy Vann (23).
Blake Stafford opened scoring for the Titans with a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter.
But the Eagles’ defense clamped down, only giving up just 28 passing yards in the second half. Beamer finished with 255 yards of total offense.
Logan Stanley: 360-754-5433, @LSscribe
TB – Blake Stafford 27 field goal
TB – Alex Rogers 7 pass from Brandon Niksich (Billy Vann run)
TB – Vann 23 pass from Niksich (Stafford kick)
FW – Milton Arnold 29 run (Randy Ortiz kick)
FW – Julio Chavez-Tilei 66 pass from Corey Quinn (run failed)
FW – Alphonzo Tuputala 2 run (pass failed)
Passing: FW – Corey Quinn 6-10-0-103; RJ Tausili 1-7-0-13. TB – Brandon Niksich 21-36-0-157.
Rushing: FW – Arnold 23-97; Corey Quinn 8-19; Ronald Davis III 2-10; Alphonzo Tuputala 2-7; Anthony Frazier 1-(-6). TB – Billy Vann 21-47; Xavier Watson 8-42; Prince Fa’amalele 1-9; Brandon Niksich 5-0.
Receiving: FW – Julio Chavez-Tilei 3-80; Lesao Taiopu 2-21; Christian Rollolazo 1-4; Milton Arnold 1-2. TB – Blake Stafford 2-35; Billy Vann 3-33; Alex Rogers 4-30; Kincade McFarlane 3-24; Brycen Dillworth 4-20; Prince Fa’amalele 1-12; Ar’Tavious Magee 4-3.