TACOMA — Sometimes in football, a bounce can go your way at the most opportune time.
One of the biggest “what-ifs” for Tumwater during Saturday’s 38-28 loss to Lynden in the Class 2A state title game was this: What if the Thunderbirds had recovered an onside kick?
Junior linebacker Addison Barrett had the ball — and then it was gone.
“I had it in my hands,” Barrett said.
After Jayden Croft’s 4-yard touchdown run cut the Thunderbirds deficit to 35-28 with 4:26 remaining, Tumwater coaches called for an onside kick by Elijah Hill. It went the required 10 yards, and Tumwater linebacker Trevor Davis pounced on the ball. Barrett got his hands around it as more Tumwater and Lynden players piled on.
But who emerged from the pile with the ball? The smallest player on the turf — 5-foot-9 Rudy Mendoza of the Lions.
Possession Lynden, officials ruled, at the Tumwater 45.
Barrett had a hard time wrapping his head around the result.
“It’s one of those things in football — sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t,” Barrett said. “I had that thing in my hand, and it just popped out. I couldn’t believe I didn’t get that ball.”
Momentum had been on Tumwater’s side. Croft had two fourth-quarter touchdown runs after Tumwater trailed, 35-13, late in the third quarter.
After recovering the onside kick, the Lions burned time, making it a two-possession game after Alex Otano-Guenther’s 40-yard field goal with 1:34 to go.
The next drive, Barrett returned the kickoff 40 yards to the Lynden 32 with the T-Birds trailing by 10, but a 15-yard sideline interference penalty placed the ball at the Lynden 47.