TACOMA -- It would take a great football team on its best day to give the Bellevue Wolverines a run when they play at the Tacoma Dome.
There is no question the Kamiakin Braves are a great football team. But Friday evening in the 3A state championship game, they were anything but at their best.
Bellevue scored three quick touchdowns in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first half, effectively ending Kamiakin's bid for its first state title in a 38-0 rout.
Two scores came on turnovers -- a 77-yard interception return by Tyler Hasty and a 34-yard fumble return by Joey Mangialardi -- and the other, a 56-yard run by Latrelle Dukes, followed a fumble.
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"We ended up beating ourselves," said senior receiver Tim White. "We made some mistakes early on and didn't have a chance to get back on top of things."
The Braves (13-1) were hoping to shake the grip of Bellevue (13-1) on the 3A championship. The Wolverines were the two-time defending champs and had won seven of the last nine titles.
Instead, they found out first hand why Bellevue is the model of championship consistency.
"They were everything we expected them to be," said coach Scott Biglin. "It was not surprising they were big, physical and could tackle. We just shot ourselves a lot. We played a great football team with a great tradition, and the score was what it was."
Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said he never expected the game to play out how it did. But, he added, the Tacoma Dome is a tough stage.
"It's a tough place to play for the first time," he said. "Playing us for the first time is not the easiest thing either."
Despite the score, Kamiakin wasn't without some solid numbers. The running game worked well, with Dom Davis rushing for 55 yards in the first half before injuring his hip on the opening kickoff of the third quarter.
Zach Umemoto took over and ran for 63 yards.
And the Braves' passing game, while saddled with unimpressive numbers, was moving well in the first half. Joey Jansen finished just 12-for-26 for 93 yards, but many of those incompletions came during mop-up time.
"They're a really good team and they capitalized on our mistakes," said senior receiver Tyler Holle. "Obviously it was disappointing.
"We played the last game of the season, and there were only two teams left."
It went from bad to worse in a hurry for the Braves, who midway through the second quarter were moving the ball well with the hopes of pulling within a field goal.
But 6 1/2 minutes and four critical plays later, they were in the locker room with a 31-0 scoreboard hanging over their heads.
"We just didn't execute," Biglin said. "I wish we could turn back time and take those things away, but you can't. All you can do is learn from this. You can't make those plays, and you've got to capitalize."
The series of missteps began so well for Kamiakin.
After getting pushed around by Bellevue's big, physical offensive line, the Braves finally came up with a stop on defense. On third-and-5, tackle Chad Cuillier lost his helmet but held on to the Bellevue runner to force a punt.
Taking over at its own 26, Kamiakin moved past the 50 in two plays as Jansen connected with Holle on a crossing route before Davis broke a 17-yard run up the middle.
Jansen avoided disaster on the next play when the shotgun snap slipped through his hands but he was able to scramble back to the line of scrimmage.
But on the next play, A.J. Griffiths hauled in a 5-yard throw. As the Bellevue defense swarmed, the ball popped out and wound up in the hands of Wolverines defensive back William Bissell.
Kamiakin's defense again rose up, and had Bellevue at fourth-and-inches. But, with the Braves crowding the line, Dukes broke through the first wave of defenders and had a clear path to the end zone.
"We talked about it at halftime. We were down 17-0, and then the pick and the fumble, and before you know it, it's 31-0. It's a sickening feeling, to work as hard as the kids worked, and it comes down to a couple of mistakes on our part."
Kamiakin, now down 17-0 with 4:24 left in the half, again found its offensive stride, moving from its 34 to the Bellevue 40.
But on third-and-11, a Wolverines rusher broke free and hit Jansen as he threw. The result was a ball that hung up and was picked off by Hasty at the 23.
The speedster picked his way across the field and finally found the end zone for a 77-yard return.
By then, with 1:26 on the clock and stinging from two quick scores, the Braves were content to run out the half. But, on this day, even that act eluded them.
Jansen's attempted handoff to Davis wound up on the ground 6 yards deep in the backfield. Mangialardi was the first there, and he rumbled 34 yards for the score.
The first half wasn't yet over, but Kamiakin's dreams of a title were.
"It's been a wild ride," Biglin said. "Too bad we couldn't finish this thing off the right way."
There were plenty of sad faces and tears in the Kamiakin locker room, but also the realization that it was a pretty amazing season.
"I want to say how much I love this team," White said. "I wouldn't have it any other way than to play for this team."
Bellevue 38, Kamiakin 0
Bellevue 10 21 7 0 -- 38
Kamiakin 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Bel -- Dukes 14 run (Johnson kick), 7:05.
Bel -- FG Johnson 25, 1:51.
Bel -- Dukes 56 run (Johnson kick), 4:24
Bel -- Hasty 77 interception return (Johnson kick), 1:26.
Bel -- J. Mangialardi 34 fumble return (Johnson kick), :41.
Bel -- Moore 61 pass from Van Ackeren (Johnson kick), 8:02.
RUSHING -- Bellevue, Morales 7-121, Dukes 12-106, Nguyen 4-30, Moore 7-21, Miles 2-14, Jones 6-9, Van Ackeren 2-3, Hasty 1 (minus 2). Kamiakin, Umemoto 12-63, Davis 8-55, Wilmoth 5-17, Jansen 1-0.
PASSING -- Bellevue, Van Ackeren 2-2-0-68, Hasty 0-1-0-0. Kamiakin, Jansen 12-26-4-93, Meier 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING -- Bellevue, Moore 1-61, Hasty 1-7. Kamiakin, White 4-42, Griffiths 3-20, Houser 3-18, Holle 1-17, Clausen 1-(minus-4).