Nick Mullen has coached football for 20 years, but he’d never won a game the way his Timberline High School team did Friday night at South Sound Stadium.
Trailing by a point with four minutes left, the Blazers (9-2) had marched 75 yards in 10 plays, but stalled at the Mount Spokane 4-yard line, facing a fourth-and-goal. Twice earlier, the Wildcats’ tall, athletic defenders blocked Timberline PAT attempts.
Mullen sent junior kicker Mason Joubert out to attempt a 21-yard field goal anyway.
The left-footed Joubert got all of the ball, but sent a line drive straight at the left upright. The ball struck steel and bounced beyond the end zone for three points, and what turned out to be the decisive score of a 22-20 first round Class 3A state playoff victory for the eight-seeded Blazers.
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“I was like, ‘It’s gotta go in, I gotta win this,’ ” said Joubert, who is in his first season kicking for Timberline.
Mullen didn’t stress it, because, he said, “From my angle, I thought it was going to be good all the way. I have never had one hit the upright and go in for my team.”
At game’s end, Joubert got a brief ride on the shoulders of his teammates.
“We’ve got a great kicker,” Blazers quarterback Hunter Campau said. “It’s his first year, but you’d have never known it tonight. He’s a big part of why we’re going to the final eight.”
Timberline will meet top-seeded Eastside Catholic (9-1) next Friday at Memorial Stadium in Seattle in the quarterfainals.
Before the field goal, Timberline and ninth-seeded Mount Spokane traded touchdowns, with only the Wildcats’ ability to block PAT kicks keeping them in the lead.
Timberline received the opening kickoff and marched to its own 43-yard line when the first of three untimely interceptions occurred. A pass from Campau bounced out of J.J. Graham’s hands and into those of Wildcats lineman Mason Methe.
Three players later, Mount Spokane quarterback Brady Hill rolled left and kept the ball, sprinting left for a 48-yard touchdown. The Wildcats missed the PAT, the only one they would fail on during the game.
The Blazers capitalized on a Mount Spokane turnover to take a brief, one-point lead.
Timberline again drove near midfield but was forced to punt. Joubert’s kick was muffed by the Wildcats and recovered by Noah Cunningham at the Mount Spokane 18.
Five plays later, Campau — who finished with an almost perfectly balanced night, passing for 131 yards and rushing for 132 — ran the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out. Joubert’s only successful PAT of the night put Timberline ahead 7-6.
When a second Campau interception bounced off Graham to Mount Spokane’s Blake Haney, the Wildcats capitalized, scoring on a 8-yard pass from Hill to Kannon Katzer.
“No excuses, but J.J. never drops anything,” Mullen said. “He’s such a great receiver. Later he made an amazing catch off a deflection.”
The Blazers tied the game, 13-13, late in the second quarter on a 21-yard dash by Cunningham, who finished with 54 yards rushing on six carries and had a 46-yard kickoff return.
With Campau being hemmed in by the Wildcats’ defense much of the first half, Cunningham stepped up, as did Stanton Hayes (10 carries, 41 yards) and Jaden Gorman (11 carries, 63 yards).
“It’s hard because they have to share carries,” Mullen said. “But they’re unselfish and just want the team to win.”
Mount Spokane responded to Cunningham’s touchdown immediately. Katzer dropped the ensuing kickoff, but picked it up and found a seam up the left side for an 80-yard touchdown.
But Timberline’s defense stiffened in the second half and held Mount Spokane scoreless. The Wildcats totaled just 155 yards of total offense.
And Campau figured out the scouting report on him and began to counter it.
“I saw that the defense was trying to contain me on the outside, so I realized if I didn’t have a receiver open, I could step up in the pocket and find open lanes,” he said.
After a Trevor Joubert interception set the Blazers up near midfield, Campau hit Graham for that diving, athletic grab and 14 yards, then went downfield to Max Aunese for 39 yards. He scored the touchdown that brought Timberline to within a point on another 2-yard run.
All that was left was Mason Joubert’s heroics.
“Our thing is, ‘Why not us?’ ” Campau said. “Why not Timberline being there at the end instead of the Eastsides and O’Deas and Bellevues?”
NO. 9 MOUNT SPOKANE
NO. 8 TIMBERLINE
MS – Brady Hill 48 run (kick failed)
T – Hunter Campau 3 run (Mason Joubert kick)
MS – Kannon Katzer 8 pass from Hill (Ethan Moczulski kick)
T – Noah Cunningham 21 run (kick blocked)
MS – Katzer 81 kickoff return (Ethan Trohjelm kick)
T – Campau 2 run (kick blocked)
T – Joubert 21 field goal
Passing: MS – Brady Hill 6-13-2-92. T – Campau 8-14-3-131.
Rushing: MS – Grayson Bowles 4-14, Hill 7-34, Katzer 8-18, Jeter Schuerman 3-(-3). T – Stanton Hayes 10-41, Campau 29-132, Jaden Gorman 11-63, Cunningham 6-54.
Receiving: MS – Tanner Brooks 1-2, Katzer 4-26, Devon Lusk 1-54. T – Max Aunese 4-55, J.J. Graham 2-23, Hayes 1-9, Trevor Joubert 1-19.