A slow start saddled them with a 12-0 halftime deficit against an explosive Skyline squad and they labored to push the boulder back up the hill all day long.
Yet somehow they scratched and clawed and found themselves 14 yards away from the end zone and victory with 30 seconds left.
But Brett Arrivey’s fourth down pass play fell incomplete to put an end to its magical season--a galvanizing run that pulled the town together and made friends out of strangers--as the Spartans escaped with a 26-21 Class 4A semifinals win at the Tacoma Dome.
This one’s gonna hurt a long time for the Falcon seniors, who were superb soldiers all year.
“We got down early on a good Skyline team and they coulda put that game away but our kids stayed true to who we were, they believed, and we fought back and came awful close,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “But we came up a little short.”
The Falcons ran it for 22 yards in the first half. The Spartans passed it for 181.
Skyline’s halftime lead could easily been 17-0 but for two missed two- point extra point attempts and a shanked field goal.
Woodinville closed to 12-7 on their first second-half possession on a play-fake pass to a wide open Alec Schwend, and got it to 19-14 later on a 3-yard Arrivey run.
Then the Spartans--in perhaps the play of the game--dialed up a reverse off a timeout on 3rd-and-9 from 30 yards out that fooled the Falcon defense and went the distance for an apparent backbreaker to make it 26-14 with 3 minutes left.
But not so fast: On 3rd and 10 Arrivey rumbled for 11. He then found Alec Kazmarcik for 25 right down the middle and, after a penalty, hit a tumbling Vintertun in the end zone to make it 26-21 with 1:28 remaining as the Spartans shrugged their shoulders and Woodinville gained momentum.
Connor Zaback’s perfect onside kick was misplayed by Skyline’s hands- team and Wyatt Smith recovered with 1:24 left on the Spartans’ 45.
Arrivey took a deep shot on first down to Kyle Adkins that was caught out of bounds. Incomplete.
He then found Vintertun alone up the middle with 1:18 left for what might have been a game-winning touchdown but Beau was caught from behind at the 14-yard line for a 36-yard gain.
Next play, flag on Woodinville for illegal use of hands, one of eight penalties that did damage and pushed momentum back.
Two incompletions later, the Falcons had a 3rd-and-14 from the 18 with 40 seconds left.
The coaches curiously opted for a quarterback draw, which produced four yards.
“We thought we might catch ‘em there and we knew we had two plays,”
It led to the incompletion on Woodinville’s last offensive chance with
31 seconds left, the gamer.
Skyline senior scatback Damian Greene was a major difference-maker for the Spartans, scoring three touchdowns including a 60-yard catch-and- run in the third quarter where he shrugged off at least three Falcon tacklers to take it to the house for a 19-7 third quarter lead.
Moments later, in one-on-one coverage, he caused a fumble as a DB and recovered it himself in a critical play that turned the tide for Skyline, a brilliant individual display.
Said Maxwell postgame: “We’re a family and our guys played their guts out all the time.”
He was asked about his team’s inability to run the ball effectively.
“They did a nice job on that early in their fits, committing guys to the line of scrimmage. They limited our opportunities in the first half and had the ball a lot. They converted on third downs to keep the chains moving and we didn’t. They controlled the tempo. That was probably the difference.”
How would he remember this group?
“Just a tough, hard-working group of guys who enjoyed being around each other and enjoyed competing,” he said. “They love to compete.”
Arrivey, the captain, was 25-for-38 for 273 yards and two TDs in a stellar performance with a running game that never got it going.
“He played like a champion,” Maxwell said.
Said Brett, between his unabashed tears: “We made some mistakes early but we never quit. It hurts a lot right now but I’m proud of my team...what we accomplished together...how hard we worked...how we bonded as a group... and we’ll be best friends forever. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Woodinville finished 12-1, the most wins in school history.