MEAD — The Stanwood High School football team is in territory it hasn’t reached in 26 years.
The Spartans used ball control and timely defensive stops to defeat the Mt. Spokane Wildcats 24-14 on a chilly Friday night in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.
Ryder Bumgarner turned in a workhorse performance, logging a huge number of carries and rushing for two touchdowns as Stanwood won its first state tournament game since reaching the AA state semifinals in 1996. The 11th-seeded Spartans (10-1) advanced to face No. 3 O’Dea next weekend at a time to be determined.
Mt. Spokane, the No. 6 seed, finished its season 9-2.
The game’s decisive sequence took place in the fourth quarter. Mt. Spokane, trailing 17-14, drove into scoring range with a chance to tie the score or take the lead. However, back-to-back sacks — the first by Carter Kinney, the second by a gang of Spartans — pushed the Wildcats out of field-goal range and forced a punt with seven minutes remaining.
Stanwood then rode its running game to march down the field, and Bumgarner broke free for an 11-yard touchdown run that gave the Spartans a two-score advantage while also taking more than five minutes off the clock. Max Mayo’s interception on Mt. Spokane’s first play following the touchdown clinched the victory.
The first half was dominated by the offenses, as Mt. Spokane scored with quick strikes while Stanwood ground out yards and minutes with the run.
The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and raced down the field, culminating with Ethan Keene’s 5-yard touchdown run that gave Mt. Spokane an early 7-0 lead.
Stanwood responded with a 13-play drive in which Bumgarner took handoffs on 10 of them. Bumgarner eventually scored on a 1-yard run to tie it at 7-7.
Mt. Spokane again struck quickly, and again it was Keene who scored from 5 yards out to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.
But Stanwood answered with another methodical running drive that ate up clock, with Wyatt Custer taking it in on a 1-yard quarterback sneak as the Spartans tied it at 14-14.
Stanwood got the game’s first defensive stop when Gary Grisham intercepted a pass on fourth down after the Wildcats drove into Spartan territory. Stanwood responded by driving for Trey Mascarenas’ 27-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds remaining as the Spartans took a 17-14 lead into halftime, with Stanwood receiving the ball to start the second half.
Mt. Spokane gave itself a chance to tie it up after forcing a fumble on the first drive of the second half and driving for a short field-goal attempt. However, the kick went off the upright as Stanwood maintained its lead to set up the finale.