With a division title on the line, expect excitement.
A bunch of wild momentum swings left Todd Beamer High School standing as 27-23 winners of a pivotal Class 4A NSPL Mountain clash against eight-ranked Enumclaw on Friday night at Pete’s Pool.
And the win has the Titans (5-2) in a logjam with the Hornets (5-2) and Kennedy Catholic (5-2) atop the league’s top tier with one game to play before Week 9 crossover games.
“They jumped on us, and we were able to come back,” Todd Beamer coach Darren McKay said. “The last two league championships — we won it two years ago, (Enumclaw) won it last year. Now we’re all in a three-way tie. Fun atmosphere tonight.”
The back-and-forth contest was effectively decided halfway through the fourth quarter.
Enumclaw had just stonewalled Todd Beamer on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 — a brutal ending for a 69-yard Titans drive that chewed up six minutes, 46 seconds, but left the Hornets with a 23-20 lead.
Then disaster struck.
Following the turnover on downs, Enumclaw quarterback Kellen Kranc fumbled the snap on the first play from his own 1-yard line, the ball bouncing on the turf before getting scooped up by Todd Beamer linebacker Prince Fa’amalele, who plunged forward for the decisive score, and a 27-23 advantage the Titans wouldn’t relinquish.
“We were in a Bear front, and they’d been hitting that quick hitter (with the fullback),” McKay said. “(Fa’amalele) just got it timed right there.”
“They brought the heavy set,” Fa’amalele said. “The fumble came right in front of me, I picked it up and scored. I was hoping my linemen would make the stop, I was a little gassed after the offensive drive, but the ball kinda just fell in front of me. Scoop it up and score, right?”
The Hornets got two more chances to take the lead, though.
A promising Enumclaw drive, spearheaded by the hard rushing of running back Nicholas Harberts and fullback Kameron McKee, took the ball right back into Todd Beamer territory. Then Titans defensive back Kincade McFarlane read Kranc perfectly, and made a diving interception to extinguish the threat.
“We had a play earlier we saw on our replay system where Kincade was not getting out wide enough,” McKay said. “So we showed him that play, told him he needed to stay wide, and he was in much better position to make a play on that one.”
A quick three-and-out gave the Hornets 67 seconds to manufacture a miracle — and they almost did.
Jackson McCann and Ethan Eilertson each hauled in a big pass to get Enumclaw to midfield. Then a flag for roughing the passer moved the Hornets just 35 yards away from paydirt with 26.4 seconds left.
A quick strike to Eilerston for 6 more yards kept the clock running, however, and Enumclaw had to watch time run out on its comeback.
Despite falling in a 10-0 hole to start, the Todd Beamer offense saw plenty of success against a hard-hitting Enumclaw’s front line.
Junior running back Denny Tiumalu opened the Titans’ scoring with a 7-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter.
Senior running back Billy Vann pillaged through and around the Hornets defensive line, racking up 105 yards rushing and a third-quarter touchdown on 31 carries.
Senior quarterback Brandon Niksich finished 9 of 20 passing for 127 yards and the touchdown that gave Todd Beamer their first lead at 13-10 on a 36-yard toss to junior wide receiver Blake Stafford.
The Titans finished with 317 yards of total offense.
“We set out to be league champions,” McKay said. “We knew we were going to come in here late in the season, this game was going to be tough. (Enumclaw) was undefeated, they were ranked in the top 10. ... This is a tough place to play.”
NO. 8 ENUMCLAW
E – Fulton Gunderson 27 field goal
E – Nicholas Harberts 19 pass from Kellen Kranc (Gunderson kick)
TB – Denny Tuimalu 7 run (kick failed)
TB – Blake Stafford 36 pass from Brandon Niksich (Nate Clow kick)
E – Jacob Burns 29 pass from Kranc (Gunderson kick)
E – Gunderson 34 field goal
TB – Billy Vann 2 run (Clow kick)
E – Gunderson 29 field goal
TB – Prince Fa’amalele 1 fumble recovery (Clow kick)