Jacob Henning hit speedy Tariq Romain on a 25-yard touchdown pass to break up a scoreless tie in the closing seconds of the first half.

It proved to be all the points Timberline High School needed. The Blazers’ defense took care of the rest.

Hometown logoBehind a dramatic goal line stand in the final 2 minutes of play, one that saw visiting Peninsula get four cracks at the endzone from the 4-yard line, Timberline became the first 3A South Sound Conference football champions on October 27 with a thrilling 7-3 victory over the previously undefeated Seahawks at South Sound Stadium.

“No matter what happens from here on out,” Timberline coach Mike Spears told his team following the Blazers’ triumph, “no one can ever take this away from you.”

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Timberline coach Mike Spears addresses his team following the Blazers’ 7-3 win over previously undefeated Peninsula. The victory wrapped up the 3A South Sound Conference championship for Timberline. Photo credit: Grant Clark.

It’s Timberline’s first league title since 2013 when the program captured its second consecutive 3A Narrows League championship.

Peninsula, which entered the game ranked No. 4 in the 3A classification by the Associated Press and one of just three remaining undefeated teams left in the state, had ran its record to a perfect 8-0 primarily behind a punishing ground game.

With the Blazers clinging to a slim four-point advantage late in the contest, the Peninsula Seahawks used their rushing attack to power the ball down to the Timberline 4-yard-line with under three minutes to play.

As the rain started to fall, Timberline’s defense tightened and turned away Peninsula on four straight plays, giving the Blazers the victory and the SSC championship.

“It’s the best game I have ever played,” said Alizen Wilson, Timberline’s 6-foot-5, 380-pound nose guard, who spearheaded the Blazers’ defensive effort which stifled Peninsula’s powerful interior running game. “I played my heart out. We all did.”

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Hathaway takes a handoff from Henning during the Blazers’ 7-3 victory over Peninsula. Timberline will host Oak Harbor on Nov. 5 in a 3A state play-in game. Photo credit: Grant Clark.

Timberline (7-2) advances to the state preliminary round where it will face Oak Harbor, the No. 6 seed out of the Wesco on November 5 in Lacey.

Behind the running of Anthony Hathaway, who rushed for nearly 100 yards in the first half, the Blazers immediately marched down the field on their opening possession before the drive fizzled, forcing Timberline to attempt a 32-yard field goal, which Peninsula proceeded to block.

It wasn’t until there was 34 seconds remaining in the first half that the Blazers finally got on the scoreboard when Henning connected with Romain for what proved to be the game’s only score.

Peninsula entered the showdown averaging 31 points a game, but the only points the Seahawks could muster against Timberline’s stout defense was a Danny Jackson 35-yard field goal in the third quarter.

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Peninsula had 1st-and-goal from the 4 late in the contest, but the Timberline defense was able to turn away the Seahawks and keep them off the scoreboard. Photo credit: Grant Clark.

“We were just able to shut them down on defense. They had a couple big plays here and there, including at the end, but we’ve been in this situation before,” said junior Michael Barnes. “We were there against Bonney Lake during Week 2. We stood up this time, made a huge play at the end. We know we’re a great defense. We’re not surprised we played this great, but we’re definitely proud of it.”

The Blazers had not lost on the field since a heartbreaking 36-33 setback to Bonney Lake on September 9. Timberline enjoyed an early two-touchdown lead, but lost on a late touchdown pass.

It would not happen again against the Seahawks.

Since losing to the Panthers, the Blazers’ defense has stepped up their play in a big way as they have given up a combined 56 points over their last seven games, with no team scoring more than 17 points.

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Timberline quarterback Jacob Henning (No. 5) talks with running back Anthony Hathaway (No. 4) during a timeout. Photo credit: Grant Clark.

“They don’t quit,” Spears said about his defense. “We never quit. I’m an old school kind of guy, 28 years in the U.S. infantry. I want to run the ball and play good defense, and that’s what we did. They just played a whale of a ballgame, all of them. I told them at halftime we’re getting pressure (on defense) with three. They did a heck of a job. I was starting to blitz a little more in second half to try and help them out a little bit. They just played great. It was a battle of two titans. It looked like the playoffs.”

Hathaway and his teammates are hoping it continues to look like the playoffs for the next five weeks.

“(Peninsula) gave us everything they had, but we expected that. We played four quarters as a team. At the start of the season we didn’t do too well with that,” Hathaway said, “but now we’ve come together and we’re going to win a championship. We’re going to win a state title.”

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