Football: Playoff race tightens as Eagles lose

"It seems odd to point this out, but last weekend was the first in the six weeks of this season without a team from Federal Way winning a game.In week six of the South Puget Sound League football season, Bethel beat Federal Way, 28-10, Puyallup beat Decatur, 42-24 and Spanaway Lake beat Jefferson 48-0. In each of the first five weeks of the season, at least one Federal Way district team won. Federal Way won each of the first four weeks, Jefferson the first two and Decatur was the only winner in week five.That being said, the Eagles and Gators are very much alive in the South Puget Sound League South Division football playoff race. Both Federal Way and Decatur control their own destiny at this point.If Federal Way wins out (at Curtis, at Decatur, Rogers), the Eagles will earn the division's third of four berths into the district playoffs. Even by winning just two games, Federal Way could sneak into that fourth seed if other games go its way.Decatur must win all three of its game (at Rogers, Federal Way, at Jefferson) to take the fourth playoff spot.By virtue of its 48-0 loss to Spanaway Lake on Thursday, Jefferson has been eliminated from the playoff hunt. The Raiders could play the part of spoilers against Decatur in the final week of the season. Both Federal Way and Decatur have played and lost to the league leaders, Bethel and Spanaway Lake. They must approach their final three games as must-win contests. If both teams win this Friday, that sets up a meaningful crosstown matchup for the first time in five years. In that game five years ago, Decatur went into that game needing to beat Federal Way and some help in other games. The Gators pulled out the win, but didn't get the aid they needed and missed the playoffs.Bethel 28, Federal Way 10As much as the Braves defense stopped the Eagles, Federal Way stopped itself with turnovers. Federal Way quarterback Tui Avaava passed for 177 yards, but was intercepted four times.The Braves also held Federal Way's running attack to just 14 yards. The Eagles actually gained 57 yards, but were tackled for losses of 43 yards.Federal Way came into the game averaging nearly 200 yards rushing, which ranked the Eagles fifth in the SPSL. Federal Way's Shaun Bodiford carried the ball just three times for two yards, which was 110 below his average.Jesse McMichaels led Bethel with 128 yards on 28 carries, including scores of one and five yards.The line gave a great push tonight. They had some big guys up front and we just gave the ball to Jesse McMichaels and let the line do their job, said Bethel quarterback Johnny Durocher.Federal Way's Ricky Grundy faced the Bethel line both as a running back and a linebacker.They had some hogs up front. They had a real good offensive line, Grundy said. They came straight at us. The line was the key to their offense. The most important measurement difference in the first half didn't come in yards, but rather inches. Bethel receiver Corey Belser owns a five-inch height advantage over Bodiford at defensive back. The Braves took advantage of that difference on a 30-yard touchdown connection between Durocher and Belser in the first quarter. Bodiford stepped in front of Belser, but the ball was thrown too high for him to knock it away. Instead, Belser leaped, made the catch and trotted into the end zone.The Eagles had a chance to pull even early in the second quarter when Avaava spotted Brady Everett in the end zone. Mark Hitchner flew into the picture and batted the ball away from Everett just as he was about to make the catch. The Eagles were forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Derek Wilson that made the score 7-3.McMichaels picked up his first score with 6 minute, 19 seconds left in the first half on a one-yard run. Following the second of two consecutive interceptions of Avaava passes, Bethel needed just one play to score. Durocher hit John Shields for a 34-yard touchdown with 1:47 left in the half.Federal Way had its chances to close the game in the second half. At one point the Eagles drove to the Bethel 14 only to have Avaava picked off by Hitchner. Ironically, Federal Way's only touchdown came when Grundy scored on a 16-yard interception return. Wilson's kick made the score 21-10. McMichaels then capped the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run. "

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