Games in the state football quarterfinals aren’t supposed to be this lopsided. But then again, maybe Tumwater is just that good.
The Thunderbirds certainly looked like the state’s No. 1 squad in the 2A classification, getting two touchdowns on the ground from Dylan Paine, a defensive score from Tyler Gilliland and a special team TD on Turner Allen’s 74-yard punt return as they hammered visiting Archbishop Murphy, 48-0, in the state quarterfinals at Tumwater District Stadium.
“(Archbishop Murphy) has been a very good football program over the years, but our kids came ready to play and we could tell,” said Tumwater coach Bill Beattie. “This whole week they were really focused. What a fantastic job by this coaching staff, but more importantly a fantastic job by these kids in the way they played.”
With the victory, Tumwater (12-0) advances to the state semifinals for the 16th time in school history and the second time over the last three seasons under Beattie. The T-Birds will host two-time defending state champion Hockinson (11-1) in the semifinal on November 30. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m.
Second-ranked Steilacoom faces No. 3 Lynden in the other state semifinal matchup with the winners playing for the state championship at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on December 7.
No one expected a running clock in the second half when these two tradition-rich powerhouses lined up against each other, but that’s what they got after Allen scooted behind a wall of blockers and raced 74 yards untouched on the first play of the fourth quarter, which pushed the T-Birds lead to 41-0.
Allen did it on the other side of the ball as well, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown run on Tumwater’s first possession of the game.
The score remained 6-0 until quarterback Cody Whalen hit Austin Terry on a four-yard scoring strike midway through the second quarter. It was all T-Birds from there.
Defensive lineman Gilliland rumbled 13 yards for a TD on a fumble return and Paine added a five-yard rushing touchdown to help Tumwater establish a comfortable 27-0 cushion at the intermission.
The Wildcats (8-3) had given up just 33 points in their last four games combined, including shutting out North Kitsap, 46-0, in the first round. That point total was matched early in the second half after Danny Goodburn outjumped a pair of Archbishop Murphy defensive backs and hauled in a 25-yard touchdown reception from Whalen.
Paine, the 2A Evergreen Conference’s offensive MVP, closed out the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes remaining in the game.
“They’re great football players, but even better kids,” said Beattie, who is 33-5 during his three seasons at Tumwater. “It’s just been fun being out here with them. I’m excited for them and very proud of this team.”
It was the most points surrendered by a Wildcats’ defense since King’s put up 63 in a win in 2013, a span of 75 games.
It also marked just the second time in 45 all-time state playoff games where Archbishop Murphy had been shutout. The other time? Well, that came in 2012 during a 21-0 loss to Tumwater, which now leads the all-time series, 7-2.
The T-Birds will now look to derail Hockinson, which has stood atop the 2A mountain for the last three years, going 38-1 over that stretch. The Hawks overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to knock off Lakewood (29-28) in the quarterfinals. Hockinson enters the contest on a 10-game winning streak with its only loss this season coming in week 2 against Archbishop Murphy (27-21).
The Hawks, who won their first state championship by defeating Tumwater (35-22) in the 2017 state finals, are attempting to become just the second program in 2A history to win three consecutive state titles. Lynden (2011-2013) is the only team to accomplish the feat.
Tumwater, which thumped Franklin Pierce, 56-7, in the first round, outscored its first two state opponents a combined 104-7. No T-Birds team has ever been as dominant during its first two state playoff games. The 104 points through the first two rounds is a program record, surpassing the 101 points the 2014 team put up.
The seven total points given up by the defense ties the 1986 Tumwater team for the second lowest in school history through the first two rounds of state. The 1987 Tumwater squad, which went on to win the first of five state titles for the T-Birds, shutout its first two opponents at state, but they scored just 54 combined points in their first two games, defeating Lakeside of Seattle, 29-0 and Yelm, 25-0.
Two more victories and Tumwater will have its sixth state title. The T-Birds won championships in 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993 and 2010.