FORKS — Coming off a devastating week for the team and community, the Forks Spartans rallied late in the game to score in the final minute and pull off a 22-21 win over Pe Ell/Willapa Valley on Friday night.
There were a lot of heroes in the game and a lot of emotions.
The players were still reeling from the death of a teammate, Tyler Ellis, who was one of three young people killed in a car wreck last week. Two of them were from Forks and one was from Neah Bay.
“It was the toughest week I’ve ever experienced as a coach,” said head coach Trevor Highfield.
Ellis’ jersey was carried out to the field by his teammates and they all tapped his helmet before the game.
“It was extremely emotional. They were really drained coming into the game to be honest,” Highfield said.
Forks was also without one of their best players Nate Dahlgren, who was unavailable for the game.
The Spartans, who came in to the game unbeaten and ranked No. 4 in the state among 2B schools, got on the scoreboard first on a 7-yard scoring pass from quarterback Logan Olson to Ryan Rancourt. The point-after touchdown by Hector Dominguez was good.
The Titans responded on a 6-yard score on a fake field goal attempt. After a PAT, the score was tied 7-7.
Forks took a 15-7 lead into the half on a 66-yard pass from Olson to Kilmer. There was a bad hold on the PAT, but Olson, also the kick holder, was able to recover and hit Landon Davis for a two-point conversion.
The Titans responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. After a two-point conversion, the game was tied 15-15.
Then the game got crazy in the final four minutes. The Titans took the lead with four minutes left and missed the PAT to take a 21-15 lead.
The Titans got the ball back, but the Spartans’ defense was able to hold, forcing a punt from the 14-yard line with just over a minute to play. Sloan Tumaua broke through the line to block the punt. The ball bounced to the 37-yard line, giving the Spartans great field position and a chance to win.
Olson, who finished with 210 yards passing, hit Kilmer with a 21-yard pass. On a third-down play from the 21, Olson threw an interception, seemingly giving the Titans the win. However, it turns out Titans defenders held Kilmer on the play and the interception was wiped out by a penalty.
“They thought they had won,” Highfield said. The penalty gave the Spartans a first-and-goal on the 2-yard line and Kilmer scored on a run.
On the critical PAT, Olson was able to get a bad snap down and Dominguez converted it for a go-ahead point.
“Logan did an amazing job,” Highfield said. The Titans had one last chance for a game-winning drive, but Olson picked off a pass to seal the victory.
“It was something else,” Highfield said. “There were a lot of tears after the game,” Highfield said.
Highfield said Dominguez had never played high school football before. He recruited him to the team to kick for the Spartans. He also said Kilmer, who finished with six catches for 135 yards, was the player of the game.
Olson finished 14-for-24 with two touchdown passes. Rancourt had five catches for 49 yards and Kaleb Blanton two catches for 23 yards.
Tumaua had 19 carries for 93 yards as a running back, filling in for Dahlgren. In addition to his blocked punt, he also caused a fumble and recovered a fumble.
Olson led the team with 15 tackles, while Kilmer and Blanton each had 14.
Forks (3-0) next plays at Raymond (1-3) on Friday.