Bothell beats Ferris, advances to 4A title game

SPOKANE — Ferris football finally couldn’t find a way.

A team that always managed to handle everything thrown at them no matter the circumstances this season, was undone by the cruelest twist of fate.

The Saxons (12-1), knocking on Bothell’s goal line, fumbled the ball way with 17 seconds remaining to lose its only game this year, 14-7 Saturday in the Class 4A state football semifinals at Joe Albi Stadium.

Bothell scored a touchdown to break a 7-7 tie with 3:36 left in the fourth quarter, but Ferris had moved 76 yards and was just a yard away from forcing overtime.

Quarterback Jeff Minnerly completed eight passes on the drive, including a marvelous fourth-down diving grab by Shawn Stockton midway through it.

On first down Minnerly lost the handle on the snap, Bothell linebacker Rami Salha fell on the ball and dashed the Saxons’ dreams of a date in next weekend’s Gridiron Classic title game.

Ferris coach Jim Sharkey was visibly distraught afterwards.

“It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow,” Sharkey said. “These are two good football teams. They made one more play than us, I guess.”

Sharkey had said earlier in the week that turnovers would decide this football game between two similar teams and he proved prophetic.

The Cougars (13-0) struggled through a mistake-plagued first half, an interception leading directly to Ferris’ only touchdown and the Saxons returned the favor in the second half, turning the ball over three times.

“We had two turnovers and five penalties in the first quarter,” said Bothell coach Tom Bainter. “I felt if we could protect the football and not make mistakes, we’d be fine. They turned the ball over in the second half and kind of evened things out — none more big than that last one, obviously.”

In a game witnessed by 3,817 fans on a frigid Spokane afternoon, Bothell marched 75 yards after receiving the opening kickoff. Quarterback Johnny Hekker completed passes of 34 and 24 yards to Cory Burk and Patrick Otterbech on the drive. Jonathan Kirschner scored the touchdown on a 5-yard run as the Cougars took a 7-0 lead.

Bothell’s defense, led by the omnipresent Otterbech, clamped down on the Saxons’ passing game. Minnerly’s first pass completion not coming until 2:22 remained in the first quarter.

“We played Cover Two and wanted to show some pressure and three coverages,” said Bainter. “We didn’t want to give up big plays.”

Beau Brett’s interception set the Saxons up at the Bothell 16-yard line late in the first quarter.

Minnerly threw a 9-yard TD pass to Jared Karstetter on the first play of the second period, tying the score at 7-7.

The Saxons put together an impressive 15-play drive that consumed eight minutes in the third quarter. But Dexter Belling missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.

A 37-yard punt by Hekker pinned Ferris at its 4-yard line in the fourth quarter. Ferris was forced to punt, with Bothell taking possession on the Saxons; 45-yard line.

Hekker immediately hit Burk on a quick out that gained 28 yards, and four plays later, the Cougars took a 14-7 lead on Kirschner’s 5-yard TD run.

The Saxons responded with a 20-play drive, which ended with Minnerly’s fumble.

“Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us there was the fumbled snap down there,” said Bainter. “I didn’t want to play overtime.”

At Joe Albi Stadium

Bothell 700714

Ferris 07007

Bothell—Kirschner 5 run (Hekker kick)

Ferris—Karstter 9 pass from Minnerly (Belling kick)

Bothell—Kirschner 5 run (Hekker kick)

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