Glacier Peak’s Joe Johnson and a coach react to losing to Bothell and being knocked out of the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Joe Johnson and a coach react to losing to Bothell and being knocked out of the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Glacier Peak blows big lead in crushing state loss to Bothell

The Grizzlies squander a 21-point lead and suffer a 49-35 season-ending loss in a 4A state opener.

SNOHOMISH — The Glacier Peak football team looked well on its way to beating one of the state’s premier programs and advancing to the state quarterfinals.

But then, it all unraveled in stunning fashion.

The Grizzlies committed costly turnovers and special teams blunders. Their offense suddenly went cold. And once the second-half avalanche gained speed, their defense couldn’t slow it down.

No. 9 seed Bothell rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to hand No. 8 seed Glacier Peak a crushing 49-35 season-ending loss in a Class 4A first-round state playoff game Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“We just couldn’t get the momentum stopped once it kind of kept rolling on us,” Grizzlies coach Shane Keck said. “… It was a calamity of errors. It wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t just the defense. It wasn’t just the offense. It wasn’t just special teams.”

Glacier Peak, making its first state playoff appearance since moving up to 4A in 2016, took a 35-14 lead early in the third quarter. But reigning state runner-up Bothell (10-1) showed the moxie of its tradition-rich program, which is plenty familiar with deep postseason runs.

In a stunning second-half turnaround, the Cougars capitalized on a slew of Grizzlies miscues and rattled off 35 unanswered points to earn their sixth state quarterfinal trip in the past eight full-length seasons. Bothell will face top-seeded and unbeaten Graham-Kapowsin in next week’s state quarterfinals.

“They came back and fought every play,” longtime Cougars coach Tom Bainter said. “We said, ‘I don’t care if we win or lose, but you will remember this for the rest of your life.’ And the only thing that will make you regret it is if you play like a coward. And we did not play like a coward.

“I’m proud of our kids, and I can’t wait to go in (the locker room) and tell ‘em that.”

Everything was seemingly going well for Glacier Peak (7-3) when junior running back Trey Leckner rushed for his fourth touchdown of the night just over three minutes into the second half, giving the Grizzlies a 35-14 lead.

At that point, Glacier Peak had scored TDs on five consecutive possessions. Leckner was already over the 200-yard rushing mark. And Bothell’s offense hadn’t scored in a full quarter.

But then, the Grizzlies started committing costly mistakes. Their offense stalled, mustering no points and just 84 yards over their final five possessions. And with senior quarterback Logan Lacio leading the way, the Cougars came roaring back with five consecutive TD drives.

Lacio finished 21-of-33 passing for 335 yards, five TDs and no interceptions — including four second-half TD passes. His top target was senior receiver Marcus Heffernan, who had five catches for 149 yards and three scores.

“We just got beat in all three phases,” Keck said of his team’s second-half collapse. “Offense, we couldn’t get rolling again. Defense, we couldn’t get a stop. Special teams, we made big errors. Things just happened. … I feel terrible for these seniors.”

After falling behind 35-14 early in the third quarter, KingCo 4A runner-up Bothell quickly answered with a 29-yard TD pass from Lacio to Heffernan.

Then after the Cougars’ defense forced a three-and-out, Glacier Peak lined up for a punt deep in its own territory. The snap was low, which prompted the punter to bend down to field the ball. But as he did so, his knee touched the ground. As a result, he was ruled down at the spot.

That gave Bothell the ball at the 5-yard line. And the Cougars capitalized three plays later, scoring on a 4-yard play-action TD pass from Lacio to tight end Lance Heaton, which trimmed the deficit to 35-28.

Bothell then got the ball right back with an interception. And the Cougars followed with a game-tying TD drive that featured three fourth-down conversions, including a costly roughing-the-kicker penalty on a fourth-and-19 punt. Later in the long scoring march, Lacio completed a fourth-down pass to Cody Petrin and an 18-yard TD pass to Kyree Percival that tied the game at 35 with 9:06 to play.

“We decided to go in our 10 personnel and throw the ball a lot more,” Bainter said of his team’s second-half offensive adjustments. “And Logan Lacio had a heck of a game.”

Glacier Peak’s second-half horrors continued on its next possession, as the Cougars pressured quarterback River Lien into an errant pass that linebacker Mingo Lemley picked off with a sliding catch near the sideline.

Bothell took over at the Grizzlies 22 and scored four plays later on a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Lacio, which gave the Cougars a 42-35 lead with 4:49 remaining.

Needing a TD to tie the game, the Grizzlies then went to their run-heavy double wing formation. They mixed in that formation throughout the night, scoring a pair of TDs with it in the first half.

But this time, Bothell’s defense forced a turnover on downs, stopping Glacier Peak on a fourth-and-4 run from the Grizzlies 26.

Shortly after, Lacio and Heffernan connected for their third TD pass of the night. That all but sealed the victory, extending the Cougars’ lead to 49-35 with 1:51 to play.

“We just believed,” Bainter said. “… Our kids are resilient. We’ve been in these games. We know this.”

Bothell struck first in the opening quarter, with Lacio hitting Heffernan on a deep ball for a 60-yard TD pass. Glacier Peak answered early in the second quarter, scoring on a 21-yard TD strike from Lien to Jadon Claps.

The Cougars quickly responded with two big plays by Ahmani Hopoi, who broke a long kickoff return and a 39-yard run to set up a short TD plunge by Edwin Zamorano.

After that, Leckner ran for scores on each of the Grizzlies’ next four possessions.

Leckner, a 6-foot-2 former receiver and transfer from Snohomish, shed multiple tackles while rumbling for a 14-yard TD. He showcased his vision and breakaway speed while weaving his way for a 66-yard scoring run. He bulldozed for a 4-yard TD late in the half to give Glacier Peak a 28-14 halftime lead.

And after the Grizzlies’ defense forced a fumble early in the third quarter, Leckner burst free for a 39-yard scoring run that made it 35-14.

Leckner finished with 235 yards rushing and four TDs on 23 carries. He also caught two passes for 30 yards. But after his fourth score of the night, he managed just 24 yards on his final eight carries.

“The coaches made a good adjustment at halftime and we tried to widen that power (running) look they were doing,” Bainter said of his team’s defensive performance in the second half. “And kids stepped up and made some plays.”

Though it ended in heartbreaking fashion, Glacier Peak took a big step forward this season by reaching the 4A state playoffs. The Grizzlies had fallen one win short of state in each of the past four full-length seasons since they moved up to 4A.

“I think they laid the foundation,” Keck said of this year’s team. “We’ve got some big firepower coming back next year, and so I think we’re gonna continue to push to try and win state championships. And unfortunately, sometimes you’ve gotta learn these hard lessons for (your) program to grow and understand what it takes to win these type of games.

“So I think the future’s bright, but this one stings really bad.”

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