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Tumwater survives WIAA 2A semifinal nailbiter with North Kitsap, 3 takeaways

Kooper Clark rushes for 248 yards and three touchdowns and the Thunderbirds stop a fake field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter to advance to the state championship game

TUMWATER, Wash. - Willie Garrow knew the blowouts were at an end. His Tumwater Thunderbirds had beaten their first three Class 2A playoff opponents by an average of 45.3 points.

North Kitsap didn’t figure to be that kind of cakewalk, and the Vikings lived up to the expectation. Tumwater still advanced to its second WIAA championship game in three years with a 19-17 victory at Sid Otton Field on Saturday night.

But the Thunderbirds needed two game-saving drives over the final 15 minutes of the game to pull it out.

“They are a really good team,” Garrow said. “We knew this was going to be a challenge.”

Here are three takeaways from the game:



Following a wild sequence in which a 7-7 halftime time turned into three different leads in less than three minutes of game time, Tumwater found itself trailing, 17-13, with 3:32 to go in the third quarter.

Lelond Anderson’s only catch of the game for North Kitsap went for 58 yards and the go-ahead score as the Vikings (11-2) took the lead back just three plays after Kooper Clark had snuck the Thunderbirds (13-0) in front, 13-10, on an 8-yard run.

Tumwater began its ensuing possession on its own 25-yard line. The Thunderbirds then ran 12 plays, 11 of them on the ground, capped by Clark’s third touchdown run of the semifinal – an 11-yarder – to retake the lead with 11:50 to play, 19-17.

A second missed extra point of the game kept the margin at just two points, however, meaning North Kitsap needed just a field goal to take the lead. The Vikings had gotten a 25-yard field goal from Andrew Knott to start the three-score sequence that gave them the initial lead, 10-7, in the second half.

And North Kitsap worked its way to a third and 9 at the Tumwater 19 on its next drive. But on that third down, quarterback Cole Edwards was pressured and eventually sacked. That brought Knott in for a 48-yard field-goal attempt to take the lead again with less than seven minutes remaining.

Instead, North Kitsap faked. Holder Tate Stearns tried to get outside but was tackled at the line of scrimmage. The stop happened and the Thunderbirds took over at their own 31.

“First downs,” Thunderbirds quarterback Ethan Kastner said. “We just wanted first downs and to keep it for six minutes.”

Tumwater did just that, driving all the way to the Viking 1 and taking a final knee there with less than 30 seconds to go to secure the win.



The Thunderbirds actually dominated play from a time of possession standpoint. North Kitsap put together just one sustained drive in four possessions in the first half – and the Vikings didn’t score on it.

Instead, North Kitsap got a single chunk play, a Cole Edwards 40-yard pass to Logan Sloman for the tying touchdown with 2:46 remaining in the first half.

After a solid opening drive in which it went 65 yards in 10 plays to take the early lead, Tumwater had consecutive possessions end in an interception, a fumble, a bad snap on a punt attempt that gave North Kitsap its short field and led to that Sloman scoring catch and finally a failed field goal to end the half.



On the ground, both teams got yeoman performances from their workhorses. Not only did Clark’s team get the victory, but he ran the ball 31 times for 248 yards and those three scores.

“I was tired, but all that work in the spring and summer, it really paid off,” Clark said. “Every game, some people just have their days and I guess today was mine.”

On the other side was Carter Dungy, who carried 21 times for 88 yards to pace North Kitsap. The Vikings got their big plays through the air, though. loman, who didn’t play the first time these teams met during the regular season (a 34-14 loss) had the first – a 40-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to tie the game at 7-7 at the half.

“We were a completely different team,” Dungy said. “Coming back with Logan, he’s a huge part of our team. We had a lot of courage. We’ve definitely grown so much as a team. I’m always trying to drive my feet, get those extra two yards.”

And there was the 58-yard strike from Edwards to Anderson that put the Vikings up, 17-13, and required Tumwater to make those game-winning drives down the stretch.



North Kitsap 0 7 10 0 - 17

Tumwater 7 0 6 6 - 19

T – Kooper Clark 3 run (Dylan Stevens kick).

NK – Logan Sloman 40 pass from Cole Edwards (Andrew Knott kick).

NK – FG, Knott 25.

T – Clark 8 run (kick failed).

NK – Lelond Anderson 58 pass from Edwards (Knott kick).

T – Clark 11 run (kick failed).


Passing – North Kitsap: Cole Edwards 10-17-161; Tumwater: Ethan Kastner 5-8-35-1.

Rushing – North Kitsap: Carter Dungy 21-88; Tumwater: Kooper Clark 31-248, Mathias Rodriguez 3-36, Peyton Davis 7-33, Derek Thompson 4-14.

Receiving – North Kitsap: Logan Sloman 4-57, Ethan Guerra 3-62, Lelond Anderson 1-58; Tumwater: David Malroy 2-10, Clark 1-10, Jacob Dillon 1-11, Jaylin Nixon 1-4.