Bethel ends Eagles' hopes

The final score was Bethel 46, Federal Way 28. But despite the margin of victory, those who saw it will remember how close Federal Way came to winning.

“I want people to remember how hard we fought,” Federal Way senior Andre Piper-Jordan said. “We all got heart.”

Heading into the final quarter, Federal Way had its undefeated opponent on the ropes. The Eagles had clawed their way to within six points of Bethel, the No. 2 ranked team in the state. Down 34-28 entering the fourth quarter, Federal Way had the ball, and momentum.

“I was thinking if we get one more score, we’re taking it,” Piper-Jordan said. “We just had to get that one score.”

The Eagles couldn’t throw the knock-out punch, although Federal Way’s comeback was remarkable considering it was nearly knocked out itself in the first half.

Federal Way trailed 28-7 at halftime. Its only points came on Piper-Jordan’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

At that point, Federal Way was self-defeating as all of Bethel’s touchdowns were direct results of Eagle mistakes.

But a different Federal Way team came out in the second half.

“We just didn’t come out and match their intensity,” said Bethel quarterback Johnny DuRocher. “They’re so athletic.”

Piper-Jordan intercepted DuRocher’s pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14.

Bethel responded with running back Steve Dildine’s third of five touchdowns he scored on the night to take a 34-14 lead.

After a Federal Way punt, Eagles senior defensive back Brandon Keeler intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards down to the Bethel 33-yard line. Joe Softli capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:12 left in the third quarter. Bethel’s lead was 34-21.

Following another stop by the Federal Way defense, the Eagle offense got in gear.

Senior quarterback Shea McFeeley hooked up with Keeler for a 75-yard touchdown pass to cut Bethel’s lead to 34-28.

Bethel fumbled its next possession and Federal Way took over near midfield.

“We got the momentum, I was thinking ‘Hey, we’re going to take it to them,’ ” Federal Way coach John Meagher said. “But you can’t turn the ball over eight times and expect to win it.”

Dildine went on to score two more touchdowns on runs of 61 and 23 yards to put the game out of reach. He rushed for 230 yards on 29 carries.

“This was a good test for us going into the playoffs,” DuRocher said. “They played us tougher than anybody this year. They’re a playoff-caliber team.”

With the loss, Federal Way was eliminated from postseason contention because of a tie-breaker rule.

“I’m proud of how our team played,” Meagher said. “It’s nothing to hang their head about. We played hard all the way through the season and made some big plays. We had a lot of talent on this team.”

“I was proud to see all the people here,” Ishikawa said. “Knowing we had the support of the community helped us step it up.”

Anthony Dotson led the Eagles offense with 14 carries for 184 yards.

Federal Way finished the season 5-3 in league and 6-3 overall. Bethel improved to 8-0 and will advance to the playoffs.

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