Lynnwood’s Ryley Johnson reaches out for a reception with Snohomish’s Kevin Lopez trailing during a game Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lynnwood improves to 4-0 with 31-27 victory over Snohomish

SNOHOMISH — Trailing by 10 points in the third quarter, the Lynnwood football team scored one touchdown later in the period, another TD in the fourth quarter, and then hung on through some frantic final moments for a thrilling 31-27 Wesco 3A South victory on Friday night.

The win lifts the Royals to a 4-0 record for the first time in more than two decades, and the team celebration after the game showed the joy of that accomplishment.

“We battled (through) some adversity, but the team came back and pulled it out at the end,” said Lynnwood quarterback and linebacker Alton Hammond.

“That’s a good program over there, and coming into this week we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Royals head coach Keauntea Bankhead, whose team improved to 2-0 in league games. “We gave up a couple of big plays earlier in the game, but our guys fought back and I’m proud of them.

“We overcame a lot of adversity,” he added, “and we were able to come out with a win.”

Lynnwood had a 17-14 halftime lead, thanks to rushing touchdowns from running backs Michael Kirkman and Delaun Smiley-Tatum, and a 32-yard half-ending field goal from place-kicker Ryley Johnson.

But in the third quarter the Panthers struck for two early touchdowns in less than five minutes. The first came on the second play after the third-quarter kickoff and was a 73-yard burst through the right side and then down the sideline by running back Keegan Stich.

After forcing the Royals into a three-and-out punt following the kickoff, Snohomish needed just seven plays to reach the end zone again. Aided by two Lynnwood personal foul penalties, the Panthers mounted a 53-yard scoring drive with Brandon Jodock moving through a big hole on a quarterback draw for a 13-yard TD and a 27-17 lead.

Undaunted, the Royals answered with a 69-yard march on 12 plays with Hammond scoring on a 5-yard carry up the middle. Keeping his feet churning, he bulled his way into the end zone with 2:38 left in the third quarter.

Lynnwood’s go-ahead touchdown was set up by the defense, as the Royals held Snohomish on a fourth-and-11 play from the Lynnwood 22. This time the 86-yard drive needed eight plays, with Hammond finding Johnson on a crossing route for a 12-yard go-ahead touchdown pass.

Snohomish had four possessions in the late minutes, but the Royal defense again was up to the task. The first ended with a punt, the second with an interception, the third on downs at the Snohomish 49, and the fourth was a game-ending screen pass that was stopped well short of the goal line.

Lynnwood actually gave Snohomish an extra chance at the end as the Royals were flagged for a face-mask penalty as time expired. The final screen pass on an untimed play was snapped from the Lynnwood 39.

“It’s just good to see the success these young men are having after all the hard work they’ve put in,” Bankhead said of the Royals. “And in the years I’ve been here, that’s the first time I’ve seen them stay at one level the whole game. They never quit and they fought back.

“Even on those last couple of plays, the game wasn’t over,” he said. “We had to play four quarters tonight, and we knew that (coming in) and we did.”

Hammond finished with 125 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the Royals and was 10-for-21 for 120 passing yards with one touchdown.

Snohomish, which slipped to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Wesco games, got 137 yards on 14 carries from Stich, with all but 15 coming in the second half. Jodock was 13-for24 for 186 with two touchdown passes, both to Josh Johnston.

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