Bellarmine football upsets Puyallup in the midst of a storm

On Oct. 22, an ominous Saturday night filled with dark clouds and frigid autumn air, the Lions entered Memorial Field with nothing to lose playing the #9 ranked Puyallup Vikings. The Vikings have been the big brother in the matchup the last few years, beating the Lions 3 straight times coming into Saturday.

With the Lions being eliminated from playoff contention they had nothing else to play for except pride and an opportunity to be a spoiler to the Vikings still hoping for a deep run. The Lions were expected to get blown out on senior night, but expectations don’t always align with reality.

As the first whistle blew and the football was sent high into the thunderous sky, the game commenced and right away spectators could sense that the Lions were going to play with intensity. The stellar Bellarmine defense got a huge stop on third down at the 25 yard line, momentarily halting a long opening drive. Instead of opting for a field goal, Puyallup decided to play aggressively, going for it on fourth down. However the Lions didn’t back down, stuffing a run up the middle with a team tackle led by breakout junior Joey Bambrick.

The Lions took possession of the ball and picked up a first down on a Joey Bambrick rush, but sophomore quarterback Dawson Hedrick threw an interception on a screen pass intended for Nick Nino. The interception resulted in great position for the Vikings, but a great third down stop by captain Chris Carpenter forced the Vikings to settle for three. On the next drive, just before a crucial third down deep in their own territory, Hedrick was forced to come out of the game for a play due to his helmet falling off.

Backup Tyler Stowers came in and rushed for a first down, and stayed in for the remainder of the game. Stowers then completed a deep shot to star wide-out Andrew Johnson, who was thought to have scored a touchdown, but a controversial call ruled him down at the Vikings 7 yard line. The Lions took a long sack on third down, and Jacob Hundven’s kick was blocked.

The Lions were able to force a quick three and out, and took possession over at midfield. Nick Nino caught a check-down from Stowers to pick up a first down, but the Lions were eventually forced to punt. The stellar Lions defense was able to force another punt from midfield, and took possession back over deep in their territory, hoping for some sort of spark to ignite the inconsistent offense.

On the first play, a miscommunication between center Alec Alvarez and Stowers resulted in a fumble, and the Vikings suddenly had the ball within the Lions ten yard-line. They were able to capitalize on the mistake, rushing for a touchdown to extend the lead to 9-0. A fumbled snap on the extra point due to the downpour of rain caused a crucial stop by the Lions to stop the bleeding.

After the conclusion of the play, there was a strike of lightning that paused the game for half an hour. With three minutes left in the half, both teams went into the locker room to regroup and plan accordingly to the bizarre weather. The Lions went back out after the break and special teams standout Spencer Truenbach immediately gave the Lions great field position on the return to midfield.

Once again the Lions’ offense remained dormant and had to punt the ball back to the Vikings. Instead of kneeling out the half, the Vikings decided to play aggressive and attempt to move the ball downfield, which led to Bambrick making a fantastic interception to once again give the Lions the football deep inside Viking Territory.

The Lions were able to pick up a first down to move inside the Viking 10, but a crucial sack moved the ball back all the way to the 20. Instead of attempting a field goal in the murky conditions, the Lions elected to go for it, but were stopped, which led to the conclusion of the first half.

Another great return by Trubenbach gave the Lions great field position to open the second half, but once again Bellarmine was unable to put together a substantial drive forcing yet another punt. The Vikings were sacked on first down, and were unable to pick up the first down, causing them to send the punt team out on fourth down. Senior Rome Mageo rushed through the Vikings linemen, and blocked the punt leading to a Cole Johnston recovery at the Vikings 1 yard line.

On the next play, Stowers ran the ball for a touchdown, his team-leading fifth of the season. The Vikings, desperate for an answer, drove down to midfield but a great tackle by junior Cole Johnston caused another Vikings punt. The Lions began to pick up first downs due to a series of great rushes by QB Stowers, but the rainy conditions once again played a role as Joey Bambrick fumbled a handoff, resulting in a Viking recovery.

The Vikings were forced to attempt a field goal, and despite the rainy conditions, converted the kick to extend their lead to 12-7. On the Lions first play from scrimmage, Stowers found Drew Johnson wide open down the field, resulting in a massive gain that pushed the ball down to the Vikings 17 yard line. A few plays later, Tyler Stowers ran for a ten yard touchdown, his second of the game, but a missed two point conversion limited the Lion lead to only a single point.

The Vikings, now trailing for the first time in the game, took over the ball near midfield, and once again were forced to punt after a series of great tackles by Nick Nino and Cole Johnston. At this point, there was a very good chance that Bellarmine would pull off the upset. The lions took possession of the ball and off a series of rushes by Stowers and Bambrick were able to run the clock all the way down to three minutes, before a third down tackle for loss forced the Lions to punt the ball with three minutes left in the game.

Hoping to pull off a massive upset, the Lions once again put faith in their stellar defense, and on the Vikings first play Nick Nino intercepted a pass and halted any chance for a Puyallup game winning drive. The Lions pounded the run into a deflated Puyallup defense, and iced the massive upset for the lions, winning 13-12 for their third win on the year

It was an important win for Bellarmine, and proves just how unpredictable the sport of football is. The Lions are now 3-5, and will travel to Olympia on Saturday, Oct. 29 to take on a 2-6 Bears team that has struggled through numerous problems both on and off the field.

If Bellarmine wins, it will be their third straight season to win at least 4 games, and they will finish in 7th place in the SPSL.

If they lose, they will slip into 8th place and finish 3 games below .500 for the first time since 2019. Olympia’s two previous wins came against South Kitsap and Rogers, who were, until last week, the only two teams had beaten as well, meaning the squads should be relatively evenly matched.

The Lions student section celebrates a win on senior night in the pouring rain. (Photo courtesy of Josie Jaback)