Steilacoom 33, Tumwater 23
(Tumwater, WA) The 2016 edition of the Tumwater Thunderbirds is also Head Coach Sid Otton’s final product after leading the Birds for 43 years. Otton will retire as the winningest coach in state history and will finish this season just shy of 400 career wins over 49 years. Some wonder why he doesn’t stick out one more year to likely hit the 400 club and coach an even 50 years.
After this game you may have figured out why Coach Otton now in his early 70’s is ready to step away, His squad has gotten into a habit of getting off to a slow start going head and head with Franklin Pierce in their opener before pulling away to a 77-42 win. They did roll in game 2 49-0 over Columbia River but then back-to-back late comeback thrillers preceded Friday night’s loss. They defeated Bellevue on the last play of the game with a Hail Mary and then took their first lead over Union last week with 1:41 left to play in the game to beat the Titans 27-20.
So when the T-Birds fell behind visiting Steilacoom 7-3 on a blocked punt there was no panic at Tumwater District Stadium. They rallied back and Nathan Seaman nailed a 32-yard field goal to make it 7-3. T-Bird fans weren’t the least bit concerned when the Sentinels expanded that lead to 14-3 on a Marques Hampton TD catch from JJ Lemming.
Tumwater would get their 1st touchdown on a Noah Andrews pass to Cade Otton and just like that it was 14-10. But the Sentinels were not satisfied with just a good showing they had visions of pulling the stunner so they answered that score with a nice drive of their own culminating with Lajon Carter hauling in an 18-yard scoring strike from Lemming, the extra point failed but the Sents had doubled up the Birds 20-10.
Tumwater made their large crowd feel good about everything when Keson Waller ran in a TD from the 6-yard line and they would breathe a sigh of relief heading to the break down just 20-17.
As the 3rd quarter started there was plenty of optimism that Tumwater would again rally from behind to post their 5th win but as the 3rd quarter wore on and Steilacoom continued to hold the T-Birds at bay and then Anthony Leito ran a 4th TD in for the Sentinels from the 2-yard line to jump out to a 27-17 lead.
In the 4th quarter with less than 6 minutes to play in the game, Steilacoom pulled off the ProActive Physical Therapy Play of the Game when they fake punted and would score to go up 16 33-17 as Isaiah Hampton caught a 39-yard pass. It was at this point you could feel the T-Bird confidence or swagger or whatever you call it disappear as true reality set in with the large home crowd that this could actually turn out to be too big a hole to come back from.
The T-Birds would score again with about 2-minutes left to play when Otton caught his 2nd TD pass this time from Mathew Brown but they needed 2 points to cut the score to a one possession game and the PAT failed and Tumwater would taste defeat for the 1st time this season.
Our Tommy Lowe of the Greene Realty Group Players of the Game went to Steilacoom’s LaJohn Carter and for Tumwater, Cade Otton.