Who said high-action rivalry football games have to wait until November to play out?
The regular season in Spanaway kicked off with a doozy of a season opener Friday night – and it all came down to the final play.
Ryan Smolko, the single-season South Puget Sound League record-holder in scoring, kicked a 24-yard field goal with one second remaining, lifting Bethel to a 38-35 victory over Spanaway Lake at Art Crate Field.
The two teams combined for 552 rushing yards – with the Sentinels netting 313. But it was Bethel that went 55 yards in the final 2 minutes, 54 seconds to set up Smolko’s game-winner.
“I am very proud of them,” Bethel coach Gavin Kralik said about his offensive players on that final drive. “And no question (Smolko) is a stud. He never missed an extra point last year (54-for-54) … and that field goal was basically an extra point from the hash.”
Spanaway Lake was seeking its first win over the Braves since 2005, led much of the first half – and ended up tying the score at 35-35 on quarterback Joe Martin’s 2-yard touchdown scamper with 3:06 remaining.
But the Sentinels aided Bethel’s final drive by committing a couple of penalties. And earlier in the game, special teams also swung in the Braves’ favor – they returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score, and a punt 71 yards for a TD.