MARYSVILLE — The Glacier Peak Grizzlies proved Friday that a well-rounded team can beat a one-dimensional team by outlasting Marysville Pilchuck 49-40 to win the Wesco 3A championship.
The Grizzlies found a way to grind out a win despite giving up more than 550 rushing yards to the Tomahawks. If someone would have told Grizzlies head coach Rory Rosenbach that his team would give up that many yards and still win, he wouldn’t have believed them.
“We had them for 556 and I would have said ‘No, we would not win,’” he said.
The Grizzlies were able to answer every big Marysville run with a well-balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Chris Becerra’s four touchdown passes.
“The offense played great and we have kind of struggled the past couple of weeks,” Rosenbach said. “We hadn’t played the way we wanted to play. We played well against Meadowdale, but we just didn’t finish some plays and some drives and we did a really good job of finishing tonight.”
The Tomahawks exhibited their explosive rushing attack on the second offensive play of the game. Austin Joyner took a pitch, made a cutback and showed off his speed, running past the Grizzlies’ secondary for a 50-yard touchdown.
The Grizzlies answered behind the arm of Becerra. Glacier Peak scored on its next two possessions to snatch momentum from the Tomahawks. The first drive went 62 yards in just three plays. After an incompletion, Sean Elledge broke off a 39-yard run and Becerra followed that with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Josh May. May also caught a pass from Becerra on the conversion attempt to give Glacier Peak an 8-7 lead.
The Tomahawks looked poised to go back on top on their next drive, but after driving to the Grizzlies’ 4-yard line, quarterback Jake Luton’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Glacier Peak’s Austin Jacobsen.
The Grizzlies took advantage by driving 95 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 23-yard touchdown reception by Marcos Baruch from Becerra.
The Tomahawks, though, stayed with the plan, kept the ball on the ground, and answered the Grizzlies’ touchdown with a 14-play drive that covered 71 yards, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Joyner.
Baruch scored his second touchdown on the next drive, catching a 33-yard pass from Becerra to give the Grizzlies a 21-14 lead.
The lead didn’t last long as Kacey Walker scored from 23 yards out on the next Marysville possession to tie the game once again, this time at 21.
The Tomahawks’ defense did something rare in the game on the next possession, stopping its opponent. That set up an opportunity for the Tommies to take a lead into halftime and they took full advantage, driving 69 yards on 14 plays that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by Hunter Trueax. After the extra point was blocked, the Tomahawks took a 27-21 lead into the locker room.
But just like last week, the Tomahawks’ fortunes changed in the second half.
The Grizzlies scored 21 unanswered points to open the quarter, turning a six-point deficit into a 42-27 lead. Sean Elledge caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Beccera to open the second half scoring and give the Grizzlies a 28-27 lead.
Then in a couple of plays Marysville’s chances of victory were dealt a big blow. First Joyner went down with an injury and ultimately did not return. Perhaps still shaken, Luton was picked off by Elledge on the next play. Elledge returned the ball 70 yards for a Glacier Peak touchdown and gave the Grizzlies a 35-27 lead.
Joyner had 159 yards on 15 carries before his injury.
“Defensively we gave up a lot, but we made some plays when we needed to,” Rosenbach said. “We got a pick in the first quarter down there and that’s probably a touchdown (for Marysville) right there. Obviously Elledge’s pick was a huge momentum shift. It kind of swung it and opened it up a bit on our end.”
On Glacier Peak’s next offensive possession, the Grizzlies added another touchdown from Michael Palmer, who scored from a yard out.
With a 42-27 lead and just minutes left in the third quarter, it seemed all the momentum had turned to Glacier Peak. But the Tomahawks’ last man standing was Walker, who cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 42-34 with a 56-yard touchdown run.
Walker finished the game with 304 yards rushing on 28 carries.
The Grizzlies were forced to punt on the next possession and the Tomahawks refused to go down without a fight. Luton’s 67-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 42-40. The Tomahawks were forced to go for two, but a Luton pass was broken up in the end zone.
Palmer added one more touchdown — on a 1-yard run — to create the final margin.
Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson said defense was the difference.
“We couldn’t get any stops on defense,” Carson said. “We had chances to make some plays and we didn’t and I think that hurt us a little bit. We knew going in that it would be a tight ball game and we had our chances to win. We went down by two touchdowns and we came storming back. We just couldn’t get a stop.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Quil Ceda Stadium
Glacier Peak 8 13 21 7—49
Marysville Pilchuck 7 20 7 6—40
MP—Austin Joyner 50 run (Ryan Spiva kick)
GP—Josh May 23 pass from Chris Becerra (May pass from Austin Hines)
GP—Marcos Baruch 23 pass from Becerra (kick failed)
MP—Joyner 2 run (Spiva kick)
GP—Baruch 33 pass from Becerra (Spencer Pettit kick)
MP—Kacey Walker 23 run (Spiva kick)
MP—Hunter Trueax 5 run (kick blocked)
GP—Sean Elledge 27 pass from Beccera (Pettit kick)
GP—Elledge 70 interception return (Pettit kick)
GP—Michael Palmer 1 run (Pettit kick)
MP—Walker 56 run (Spiva kick)
MP—Jake Luton 67 run (pass failed)
GP—Palmer 1 run (Pettit kick)
Records- Glacier Peak 8-1; Marysville Pilchuck 7-2.