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Fake field goal helps give Lindbergh 25-13 win over rival Renton
Senior punter Ryan Hoover threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Burton to help the Eagles lock up the Renton All-City Championship for the sixth year in a row.
Special to The Seattle Times
RENTON – With his offense sputtering, Lindbergh coach Matt Leamer looked to an untapped resource.
Leamer turned to senior Ryan Hoover. And, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound punter and holder on field goals delivered in a big way.
Hoover, playing his first year of varsity football, came through with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Burton on a fake field goal with 8:04 left that snapped a tie game and propelled Lindbergh to a 25-13 win in Friday’s Seamount League game at Renton Stadium.
The Eagles (6-0 overall, 4-0 league) clinched a berth in the playoffs with three weeks left in the regular season and captured the Renton All-City Championship for the sixth year in a row by beating Renton (3-3, 2-1) on Friday. Lindbergh beat Hazen earlier in the year.
It all came down to the arm of Hoover and the guts of a first-year head coach with the game tied at 13-13 and 8:10 showing on the game clock. As the Eagles lined up for a 38-yard field-goal attempt by Daniel Wiitanen, Hoover, the holder on the snap, knew he would get his chance to shine.
He fired a perfect strike, lofting a 22-yard pass to a wide-open Burton just outside the end zone on the left sideline and Burton waltzed in for the score.
“That’s the first pass I’ve ever thrown in a football game in my life,” said Hoover, who last played competitive football as a freshman. “I’ve always played center. I played seven years of junior football with the Benson Bruins. I played JV as a freshman.
“...I looked to the sideline, I saw my guy and their guy, and I said, ‘Let’s get it done.’ I just threw the ball where I needed to and it was there the way we practiced it.”
Leamer, the team’s defensive coordinator for eight seasons, didn’t hesitate to call the trick play.
“What we were thinking all week is that we’ve really been struggling offensively,” said Leamer, whose team was outgained 253-176 in total offense. “We knew we had to create touchdowns other than offense to hang in there with this team, because their offense is so explosive.
“According to Ryan, he should probably be our quarterback. He’s a pretty confident kid. He’s a baseball kid and he’s got a good enough arm.”
Hoover said the fake field goal trick play was practiced one day earlier on Thursday.
“We practiced that play twice,” Hoover said. “The first one I threw, it was a duck. It was just spinning. I threw another one, and it was perfect. I thought I threw this one over the sidelines and into the stands.
“I saw my guy (Burton) waiting just perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. First thing I thought was, ‘Oh my goodness.’ ”
The Eagles were without starting quarterback Tyrell Shavers for the third consecutive week and fourth game of six outings. Devon Jackson stepped in to lead the team under center in Shavers’ absence. Leamer said he wanted to keep the reason Shavers isn’t playing “in-house.”
Jackson ran for two touchdowns, including a 1-yard keeper plunge with 1:25 left in the game for a 25-13 lead.
But the Eagles had already grabbed the All-City title for Renton for 2013.
“It means everything to us,” Leamer said. “These kids grow up with these other guys their whole lives. To have bragging rights for the rest of the years means a lot.”
Renton went ahead 10-7 on Ernie Davis’ 1-yard burst around left end to the far corner of the end zone with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
Lindbergh’s Wiitanen took the ensuing kickoff and rambled 80 yard for a touchdown down the right sideline to make it 13-10 with 2:26 showing in the third. Then, Wiitanen’s PAT kick blocked.
Renton’s Zach Hasson knotted the score at 13-13 on a line-drive 36-yard field goal with 11:53 left in the game. Then came Hoover’s heroics.
The two teams entered 1-2 in both scoring offense and scoring defense in Seamount. Renton has outscored foes a league-best 36.2 to 21.0 per game while the Eagles average 24.0 to league-best 11.8 allowed.
Lindbergh last reached state in 2011 and is looking to get back.