Bellevue running back Isaiah Ifanse rushes for 254 yards and four touchdowns as the Class 3A No. 9 Wolverines knocked off the Class 2A No. 1 Wildcats 35-21.
EVERETT — Nervousness circulated through Archbishop Murphy’s stands.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and the defending state champions, but Friday’s opponent was Bellevue. Even the most remote high-school football fan knows of the storied Wolverines program that has won 11 state championships but is under a postseason ban due to rules violations.
For those who didn’t know, Wolverines senior Isaiah Ifanse made an immediate impression with touchdown runs of 51 and 57 yards in the first quarter. He scored four in a 35-21 win.
Bellevue, which is ninth in The Seattle Times’ Class 3A rankings, snapped Archbishop Murphy’s 17-game win streak. The Wildcats’ last loss was the state-title game in 2015.
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“Knowing where we were at as a team, where we have some very key, young players, they needed to learn,” AMHS coach Jerry Jensen said of his sophomore QB and underclass linemen. “The only way you learn sometimes is the hard way. I’m proud of our boys for the way they fought in the second half. This will hurt, especially for the seniors, but it should motivate them, too. And sometimes you need that.”
Archbishop Murphy made national news last season because of conference opponents forfeiting due to safety concerns against NFL-sized players. This season, the young line was overpowered by Bellevue’s size.
The Wildcats (3-1) thought they had Ifanse wrapped up, only to see his 5-foot-11 frame spin and power through tackles for big rushing gains. He put Bellevue (3-1) on the board first with a 51-yard score with 9:18 left in the opening quarter.
“That was my favorite,” said Ifanse, who finished with 254 yards on 20 carries. “They were blocking hard, and we were just excited. It was a big relief to score the first one. And we just kept on going.”
Archbishop Murphy entered halftime down 21-7 after senior Kyler Gordon, a wide receiver, threw an 88-yard touchdown pass to junior Dillon Halpin with 1:53 left in the second quarter.
“He (Gordon) is such a special player, you’ve got to know where he is at all times,” Bellevue coach Mark Landes said. “You lose him for half a second and he’s 10 yards past you. (AMHS) runs so much stuff at you, it’s hard to prepare for them. But we just work as a team so well together, and we’re good up front.”
Ifanse had a 35-yard touchdown run with 9:04 left in the third quarter to make the score 28-7. Wildcats sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis responded with a 23-yard scoring pass to Gordon to close the gap to 28-14 with 7:16 left in the quarter.
But fans could barely cheer before Ifanse broke loose for a 57-yard score 16 seconds later.
“There are no words, you’ve just got to see him, he’s special,” Landes said.