SPOKANE - Perhaps the first time all season, North Thurston’s stat sheet didn’t align with the outcome.
The Rams had almost twice as many first downs as University and dominated in total offense. How could it not lead to a victory in Saturday’s 3A state quarterfinals?
Those numbers weren’t reflected it in the final score – a 23-13 University victory over North Thurston in Saturday night’s 3A state quarterfinal game at University High School, ending the Rams’ season at 9-3 and one win away from being one of the final four teams in the Class 3A playoffs.
The Rams had a 387-176 advantage over University in total offense, and had 21 first downs, compared to the Titans’ 11.
North Thurston had a chance in the final seconds of the first half to tie the game at 7-all going into the locker room. Trailing 7-0 and facing a fourth-and-10 from the University 11, quarterback Ryan Mets found Tru Hicks. The catch was good enough for the first down, as Hicks stretched to try to get the ball over the goal line, but officials ruled he was inches short as the first half expired.
“That was crucial,” said North Thurston coach Rocky Patchin, whose team held a 118-84 first-half advantage in total offense, despite trailing by seven.
Hicks’ play was the momentum shifter. In less than a 2-minute span to begin the third quarter, the Titans (8-4) scored two touchdowns – the first on a 90-yard kickoff return by Adrian Bronner, followed by a 4-yard run on by quarterback Jeff Beaty on a keeper with 10 minutes, 2 seconds to go in the third quarter that extended the Titans’ lead to 21-0. It was part of a 16-point third quarter that included a safety.
Seniors Mo Manning (7-yard run) and Brandon Belisario (3-yard run) scored touchdowns for the Rams. Belisario’s run came with 3:11 remaining that brought the score to 23-13.
Patchin praised his players afterwards.
“We went far and beyond people’s expectations,” Patchin said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”
Saturday’s state quarterfinal game was just the fourth appearance in the quarterfinals for the program in school history and the first since the 2000 team advanced to the state semifinals.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick