Even in mid-October, Tenino football coach Randy Swilley thought it was too early to look at regular-season games that might have playoff implications.
After Friday night, he might want to shield his own eyes for another week.
A week after throwing a disastrous interception in the final 35 seconds in a loss to Rochester, Eatonville got a huge positive play in the final seconds from quarterback Jacob McCormick.
McCormick scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run with 25 seconds to go, then won it on a two-point conversion pass, lifting the Cruisers to a wild 42-41 victory at ninth-ranked Tenino.
Never miss a local story.
The Beavers (5-2, 3-2) still control their own destiny for a home playoff game out of the 1A Evergreen Conference. They play at Montesano (5-2, 4-1) next Friday.
But the contending pack for that third and final playoff spot from the league just got tighter. Elma (5-2, 3-2) and defending 1A EvCo champion Eatonville (3-4, 2-3) are not out of it.
“Depending on what people do, it can go a lot of ways,” Swilley said. “We definitely do (control our path to the playoffs). We are 3-2 in league. We’ve got a really tough game next week at Montesano, but we have to go in there and rebound and quit making mistakes.”
The last-second loss ruined a fantastic effort by running back Thomas Pier, who rushed for 254 yards on 25 carries, and a career-best six touchdowns.
The last one, a 26-yard scamper with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining, handed Tenino a 41-34 advantage.
But the Cruisers went right down the field. McCormick kept it on the 5-yard run, and coach George Fairhart decided to go for a two-point conversion – which McCormick got it with a throw.
Eatonville picked off the Beavers on their final drive.
Pier, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior, opened the game by taking a direct snap and galloping 70 yards for the first of his six scores.
His other touchdown runs were 10, 1 (twice), 13 and 26 yards.
McCormick broke a 21-21 tie with his 1-yard quarterback keeper with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Pier tallied two touchdowns, including his 13-yard run, to give the Beavers a 33-28 lead with 4:54 to go.
Yelm 42, Bellarmine Prep 35 (OT): Daylon Matthews hit Kaleb Lunderville on a seam route for a 24-yard touchdown to open overtime, and the Tornados’ defense took it from there in posting a come-from-behind victory over the Lions.
Needing a touchdown to tie, the Lions ran four plays in overtime but were held. The final play was an incompletion on fourth-and-8.
Yelm tied the game with 4:23 to go in regulation on Matthews’ 43-yard scoring strike to Marcus Shivers.
Brandon Thompson finished with 124 rushing yards on 18 carries, and added 89 receiving yards for the Tornados.
At No. 1 Tumwater 54, West Valley (Yakima) 6: Easton Trakel returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown as the T-Birds rolled to another decisive win.
Tumwater scored eight uncontested touchdowns – seven in the first half to enter the locker room up 47-0 – before the Rams managed their first and only score as time expired.
No. 10 Black Hills 42, at Kelso 7: The Wolves racked up 392 total yards against the Hilanders at Schroeder Field to keep the undefeated streak going.
Conner Furu (173 yards on 14 carries) and Jordan March each rushed for two touchdowns while quarterback Christian Williams also tossed for two.
Mark Melendres caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Williams on the opening drive of the third quarter. Black Hills followed up with two more quick scores, giving it a 42-0 advantage and forcing a running clock.
River Ridge 35, at Clover Park 0: Trevonne Dorsner kept the eighth-ranked Hawks’ high-powered rushing attack rolling along with 190 yards on 20 carries, including a pair of touchdowns at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
Zach Carter set a single-game school record for River Ridge with 18 tackles.