EVERETT — It had been nearly 22 months since Archbishop Murphy had trailed in a football game.
That streak ended Friday night, and so did the Wildcats’ string of 17 consecutive wins.
Bellevue star running back Isaiah Ifansi rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Class 3A ninth-ranked Wolverines to a 35-21 win over 2A top-ranked Archbishop Murphy in a non-league showdown of powerhouse programs at Terry Ennis Stadium.
It was the defending state-champion Wildcats’ first loss since a 24-21 defeat to Tumwater in the 2015 state semifinals. Archbishop Murphy (3-1) had beaten every opponent since then by at least 19 points, including five opponent forfeits last season.
“You start having success sometimes, and you forget what the sting of that defeat is,” Wildcats coach Jerry Jensen said. “And sometimes you need that. Sometimes losses can be good.
“I expect our kids to bounce back from this, learn from it and get better.”
Ifansi, ranked by Scout.com as the state’s third-best senior running back, showcased his elite blend of speed, power and elusiveness with touchdown runs of 52, 57, 35 and 57 yards. The 5-foot-11, 190 pound standout has Division-I college offers from Navy, Air Force and Idaho.
“(Ifansi) is a beast,” Jensen said. “We have not seen anybody like him. And no matter how much you watch him on film or try to simulate that in practice, we could just not adjust to that in the first half. Their long plays were just the killer.”
Bellevue (3-1) raced to a 21-0 first-half lead with touchdowns on each of its first three possessions. Ifansi led the way, rushing for 137 yards and two scores in the first quarter.
Facing 3rd-and-1 on the game’s opening drive, Ifanse shedded several tackles up the middle and broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run that gave the Wolverines an early 7-0 lead.
Ifanse rattled off another highlight-reel run on Bellevue’s next possession, cutting and weaving his way for a 52-yard touchdown.
Junior running back Quinn Sullivan added a 31-yard scoring run, stretching the Wolverines’ lead to 21-0 less than four minutes into the second quarter.
Yet while Ifansi was exploding for big gains in Bellevue’s Wing-T rushing attack, Murphy’s offense was stagnant for most of the first half. The Wildcats totaled just 65 yards on their first three possessions and didn’t score until shortly before halftime.
Murphy got on the board with a trick play, dialing up a halfback pass on 3rd-and-16 from its own 12-yard line. Senior standout Kyler Gordon took a toss to the right and found junior receiver Dillon Halpin wide-open downfield for an 88-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 21-7 heading into halftime.
But on the first possession of the second half, the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs at their own 43-yard line. Two plays later, Ifansi rushed for a 35-yard touchdown to extend Bellevue’s lead to 28-7.
Murphy responded with a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive, which sophomore quarterback Victor Gabalis capped by lofting a 23-yard touchdown pass to Gordon.
Yet Bellevue immediately answered, scoring on the ensuing play from scrimmage with another long Ifansi run. The standout college prospect burst up the middle and then cut to the right for his fourth touchdown of the night, a 57-yard score that extended the lead to 35-14 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Murphy senior running back Ray Pimentel cut the deficit to 14 points on a 7-yard touchdown run with less than eight minutes to play, but the Wildcats were unable to recover from the early 21-point hole.
“This will hurt, especially (for) the seniors,” Jensen said. “But it’s going to motivate them, too. And sometimes you need that.”
Bellevue, which claimed 11 Class 3A state titles from 2001 to 2013, is in the second year of a two-year postseason ban that was levied after an investigation found the football program had committed wide-ranging violations of state rules.