Turnovers and a penalty that wiped out a kickoff return for a touchdown hurt the Cougars in their first-round loss to the Lions.
TACOMA — In order for his team to advance on Saturday, Bothell football coach Tom Bainter knew his group would have to play a near-perfect game.
Instead, against Bellarmine Prep in the first round of the state playoffs, the Cougars made a handful more mistakes than their Bellarmine Prep counterparts and lost 35-30.
“At this time of the year you have to make plays, and you can’t give out extra chances,” Bainter said. “We did that a couple of times, and they took advantage of it. Tip your cap to them and bless us for our heart. We never gave up.”
In the quarterfinals, No. 4 Bellarmine Prep (10-1) will meet No. 6 Gonzaga Prep (10-1), a 45-17 winner over Union on Saturday.
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After Bellarmine took a 35-17 lead to start the fourth quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Colorado commit Sefo Liufau, Bothell (6-5) looked on the verge of collapse.
But the Cougars stormed back behind a 57-yard touchdown pass from Ross Bowers to Jared Berry and a 26-yard TD pass from Bowers to Danny Wilson. That made it 35-30 with 2:26 left.
Bothell still had a pulse.
Bellarmine chewed up the rest of the clock, thanks in part to a costly Bothell offside penalty on third-and-4.
It capped a game-long trend. Bothell had three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble — and committed a penalty that erased a kickoff return for a touchdown.
“We created some opportunities, and then there were some other things that didn’t go our way today,” Bainter said. “But (the Lions) didn’t make those mistakes. They played a good, clean football game.”
Bothell took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on Bowers’ 14-yard touchdown pass to Berry. But Lou Millie rattled off a 44-yard touchdown run and Liufau accounted for two touchdowns that gave Bellarmine a 28-17 halftime lead.
The game’s critical drive came in the second half. Three times Bothell held the Lions to fourth-and-shorts, and three times Liufau converted. The drive ended with Liufau’s 29-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-2.
“Down in the trenches, towards the end of the game, we knew we had to convert or they’d have a chance to win at the end,” said Liufau, who called Bothell one of the most physical teams he’s faced this year.
Wilson rushed for 101 yards and Bowers completed 13 of 28 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org