BELLEVUE — Since Week 5, the Snohomish football team has made a habit of pulling out gritty, narrow wins one week after another.
But after eight consecutive wins and a run to the 3A state tournament, the Panthers were simply outmatched in their first-round state game against perennial power Bellevue.
The No. 4-seed Wolverines ran for more than 500 yards and took away Snohomish’s typically strong running game, and the No. 13 Panthers suffered a season-ending 66-33 loss Friday at Bellevue Memorial Stadium.
“You have to be absolutely assignment driven and have to win it within your role, and you have to tackle,” Snohomish coach Joey Hammer said about Bellevue’s Wing-T rushing attack. “We battled. They took advantage of some opportunities, and that’s a good football team.”
Bellevue (11-0) totaled 556 rushing yards, averaging 12.9 yards per carry. Three different backs surpassed 100 yards rushing, and the Wolverines ran only one pass play all night.
To Snohomish’s credit, the Panthers (8-3) responded after a large halftime deficit, largely playing Bellevue even the final 24 minutes.
Trailing early and needing to throw, Snohomish quarterback Tayte Conover completed 18-of-36 passes for 253 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for a score.
Tyler Massena and Tyler Larson, Snohomish’s dynamic running back duo which combined for 258 rush yards during last week’s district playoff win, combined for 89 yards on 23 carries. Massena also caught five passes for a game-high 103 yards and put the Panthers in front early.
Although Bellevue took a 35-7 lead into halftime, Massena gave the Panthers a 7-0 advantage on the game’s first play. The senior caught pass in the right flat and raced down the sideline for a 69-yard score.
But Bellevue gashed Snohomish’s defense with one big running play after another, reeling off 35 unanswered points. Nearly every Wolverines second-half score was answered with a Snohomish touchdown.
“Yeah, the scoreboard says we came up short, but I’ll be one to tell you that we came out victorious,” Hammer said. “We’ve been victorious all year with this group of young men. They keep climbing. They just keep climbing and they never give up, and I’ll take that all day every day. I love these boys.”
The loss snapped the Panthers’ eight-game winning streak and put an end to a great season for first-year coach Hammer. Snohomish claimed a Wesco 3A South title and finished among the state’s top 16 Class 3A teams. Bellevue advances to the state quarterfinals.
Tayte Conover, Snohomish — The Panthers were playing catch-up nearly all game and needed to attack through the air. Conover stepped up big-time, throwing for 253 yards and touchdown passes to Tyler Massena, Makai Williams and Jacob Brandvold. He also ran for a score.
Tyler Massena, Snohomish — Massena has been great for the Panthers all year. Against Bellevue, he made his impact in the pass game. The senior back caught five passes for a game-high 103 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t have much room running the ball, though; he finished with 48 yards on 10 carries, 44 coming on a late four-quarter run.
Alex Reid, Bellevue — Reid was one of a number of Wolverine backs who had their way with Snohomish’s defense. Reid ran for a game-high 149 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
12.9 — Average yard per rush for Bellevue, which had four running backs surpass 87 yards rushing.
1 — Number of pass plays ran by Bellevue.
4 — Total touchdowns by Snohomish senior quarterback Tayte Conover.
8 — Number of touchdowns scored from 20 or more yards away.
Snohomish had an impressive crowd backing it. A large student section, band and cheer crew stayed in the game throughout, trumping a low turnout from the home team.
“I’ll be honest with you, when I looked at our stands compared to theirs, we showed up,” Hammer said. “That’s a community — one heartbeat. We preach it, we say it, but we believe in it. It takes every single hand on deck, and we have to continue to grow. That community support is absolutely remarkable, and I’m thankful for it.”