Lightning struck twice — literally — Friday night at Art Crate Field in Spanaway delaying the 3A PCL opener between Bethel High School and Spanaway Lake.
Just minutes before the opening kickoff, lightning was spotted in the area, pushing back the start time 30 minutes.
There were stoppages in play and long delays, but that didn’t stop the eighth-ranked Braves from deploying their stable of running backs to earn a narrow 35-32 win over the Sentinels.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Spanaway Lake quarterback Jordan Etter threw an incomplete pass and Francisco Lugo carried the ball for 3 yards.
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On that third-and-7 play, Etter threw an interception to Quincy Etienne, and Etienne took it all the way down to the Sentinel’s 3-yard line.
“They throw it a lot, and when you throw it a lot, you’re going to throw some picks,” Braves coach Mark Iddins said. “Our guys made some plays. Their quarterback made some really nice throws, too. We got the best of him sometimes, and he got the best of us sometimes.”
Etienne’s return set up the Braves’ first touchdown as Josh Walker took the ball 2 yards for the score.
Walker was one of a handful of running backs that shared the load for the Braves, finishing with 45 rushing yards on 13 carries and touchdown in the game. Will Latu (12 carries, 61 yards), Solomon Danny (seven carries, 29 yards, two TDs) and Nick Hughes (four carries, 20 yards) also pitched in.
“We came into the game expecting to throw, but we have some of the best running backs in the league,” Walker said. “Once we get back down to the basics it comes down to the line blocking for us and smash-mouth football.”
After scoring again on a 26-yard pass to Eitenne from Nate Hughes, the Sentinels started to mount a comeback. With 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Etter found Malik Jones-Moore for 8 yards.
After another hour-long lightning delay, the Sentinels scored again on a 3-yard run by Lugo, and a third time on a long 57-yard pass from Etter to Jordan Ebio to take an 18-14 lead.
But, Bethel answered with a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns by Danny to close the half.
“It felt like a couple times we were going to pull away, but then they made some big plays and came back,” Iddins said. “We have a stable of running backs, and a few we are really comfortable with. You give them the ball and they make stuff happen.”
Etter was tough to get rid of, though, as he led the Sentinels on two final scoring drives that would cut the defecit to three points with less than seven minutes to play.
But the Braves’ defense didn’t allow Etter to get comfortable on the last few plays, forcing a big sack with less than 30 seconds to go.
The Sentinels (1-2) will try to bounce back against Mount Tahoma next Thursday at Art Crate, while the Braves (2-1) are travel to Stadium Bowl in Tacoma to play Wilson.
SPANAWAY LAKE 12 6 7 7_32
NO. 8 BETHEL 14 14 7 0_35
B – Josh Walker 2 run (Cameron Schweyen kick)
B – Quincy Etienne 6 pass from Nate Hughes (Schweyen kick)
SL – Malik Jones-Moore 8 pass from Jordan Etter (kick failed)
SL – Francisco Lugo 3 run (conversion failed)
SL – Jordan Ebio 57 pass from Etter (conversion failed)
B – Solomon Danny 1 run (Schweyen kick)
B – Danny 1 run (Schweyen kick)
B – Peter Latu 12 pass from Hughes (Schweyen kick)
SL – Etter 6 run (Nick Graver kick)
SL – Ebio 26 pass from Etter (Graver kick)
Passing: B – Nate Hughes 9-16-2-169; Puka Sokimi 2-6-0-22. SL – Jordan Etter 17-33-2-274.
Rushing: B – Josh Walker 13-45; Quincy Eitenne 1-(-2); Will Latu 12-61; Solomon Dammy 7-29; Nate Hughes 4-20; Puka Sokimi 1-0. SL – Francisco Lugo 21-86; Jordan Etter 7-9; Jonathan Shannon-Cordova 4-14; Joe Anderson 1-2.
Receiving: B – Will Latu 1-12; Cameron Parker 1-10; Quincy Etienne 1-26; Pete Latu 3-37; Josh Walker 3-54; Puka Sokimi 1-39; No. 17 1-15. SL – Corey Butler 2-21; Xavier Thomas 1-38; Malik Jones-Moore 1-8; Jordan Ebio 5-128; Deone Hayes 3-42; Taeshawn Cummings 1-7; Jordan Etter 2-2; Justin Howe 2-36.