TUMWATER — Tumwater High School’s football matchup Friday night with Bellarmine Prep was more than a traditional non-league football game. It was a measuring stick for where the Class 2A Thunderbirds stand against the No. 3-ranked 4A team in the state.
It was a statement, too, after Tumwater’s 26-14 victory over the Narrows League’s Lions at Tumwater District Stadium.
“People didn’t think we’d win this game,” Tumwater sophomore Easton Trakel said. “It shows that just because we’re 2A, we’re nothing to mess with. It’s awesome to get this win.”
Trakel had the best game of his young career with a game-high 131 rushing yards, thanks in part to an 87-yard touchdown run for the game’s opening score and four catches for 84 yards.
But the victory didn’t come easily.
One week after Gabe Gleizes’ game-saving interception in the end zone secured a 7-point victory over sixth-ranked W.F. West – a game that featured five Tumwater turnovers – the state’s second-ranked 2A team again had trouble holding on to the ball. The T-Birds lost four fumbles in the first half, but Bellarmine was able to capitalize for points just once. Inside 6 minutes to go in the second quarter, punter Elijah Hill mishandled a snap, giving Bellarmine prime field position at the Tumwater 17. On the ensuing
play, Nate Goltermann’s 17-yard touchdown run tied the game at 7-all.
But the Tumwater defense pulled through minutes later as halftime approached.
With Bellarmine knocking on the door again, Tumwater denied the Lions’ Lou Millie on a quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line with 1 second remaining.
The play served to jump-start the T-Birds, Trakel said.
“That had to wake us up,” Trakel said. “Our defense puts us through everything, so that was awesome. They killed it on the line.”
Tumwater (6-0) boosted its lead to 20-7 with Griffin Shea’s 68-yard touchdown reception and field goals of 31 and 33 yards by Hill – all while limiting Bellarmine to 68 yards of total offense in the second half.
The Lions’ biggest play of the final two quarters was Garrett McKay’s 32-yard touchdown catch that inched the Lions closer at 20-14 in the fourth quarter.
Millie was intercepted twice – by Garrett Terrell and by Trevor Davis, the latter coming after Davis scored on a 25-yard touchdown run inside the final 2 minutes to seal the victory.
Tumwater quarterback Jayden Croft completed 10 of 16 passes for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Goltermann, at 5-foot-4 and 122 pounds, led Bellarmine with 97 yards rushing, all in the first half.