LACEY — Who knows what might have happened if the Timberline Blazers had successfully gained the final possession. Perhaps it would’ve resulted in a touchdown, their third in a four-minute stretch.
During the Blazers’ two previous fourth-quarter possessions Saturday afternoon, they scored touchdowns to cut a 21-point deficit against Meadowdale to seven, and recovered an onside kick well inside Mavericks’ territory with 29.1 seconds remaining.
But an interference penalty was called on Timberline for not allowing the receiving team to catch the ball without being impeded. The call negated the recovery by Michael Euliss after a tip by Sava’auli Ma’ae-Togiola and resulted in Meadowdale retaining possession. The Mavericks ran out the clock for a 28-21 win over the Blazers at South Sound Stadium.
First-year Meadowdale coach
Mike Don explained the rule, and what the officials told him.
“You have to give the receiving team an opportunity to catch the ball if it never comes in contact with the ground,” he said. “If the ball is in the air, you have to give the guy room to catch the ball.”
Meadowdale (6-4), which entered the game on a three-game skid, advances to the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, while the Blazers’ season ends at 6-4.
Meadowdale was in control most of the game, taking its largest lead at 28-7 with 4:55 remaining in the game after Charlie White recovered Timberline’s fumble in the end zone. But Blazers quarterback Gabe Gutierrez orchestrated touchdown drives on two consecutive possessions, connecting with Trent Gallagher and Jonathan Dowell for touchdown passes of 35 and 22 yards, respectively, to give the Blazers hope. His final touchdown pass cut the Blazers’ deficit to 28-21 with 29.1 seconds to go, setting up the onside kick.
The game couldn’t have started any worse for the Blazers. In the first two possessions, they lost Andrew Paquin (ankle), the team’s leading rusher, and Garrett Reese (knee) for the game, and were down 14-0 by the first-quarter close.
With Paquin out, the rushing attack shifted to Markell Barnes (47 yards, 14 carries) and Jeff Winstead (14 yards, six carries).
“We had to adapt, adjust and overcome. That’s what we do,” Blazers coach Nick Mullen said. “We’ve faced adversity all year long, what are you going to do, stop now?”
Much of the offensive load was carried by the junior Gutierrez, who turned in a career day in his final game. He attempted 42 passes (completed 20) for 303 yards and three touchdowns with the majority of the yards going to Gallagher and Dowell, who combined for 252 yards.
“I think it’s a positive step for next season,” Mullen email@example.com