Four First-Quarter Takeaways Boost T-Birds Past Spudders


TUMWATER — Halloween might have been a week ago, but the Tumwater football team was all too happy to extend spooky season a few days and turn Sid Otton Field into a house of horrors for Ridgefield as night fell in Thurston County in a 35-14 2A district crossover win.

And it started immediately. 

The Spudders’ first drive lasted exactly one play, with Luke Reid picking off Logan DeBeaumont’s first pass of the evening. Their second lasted three, with Jeremy Hafoka and Blake Heryford got to DeBeaumont and punched the ball free, where Hafoka picked it up and rumbled all the way to the Ridgefield 12-yard line.

That set up Tumwater’s first touchdown of the game, with Carlos Matheney needing two runs to make the most of the short field. And when the T-Birds’ kicked it back to their guests, Ridgefield gave it right back on the very next play, with Hafoka recovering his second fumble in less than four minutes.

“When he gets off the ball like that, there aren’t many guys in the state that can stop him,” Tumwater head coach Bill Beattie said. “He gets off the ball and just creates problems. He had an outstanding game tonight, and so did the whole defense.”

Later in the quarter, Reid jumped in front of another pass for his second interception, making it four takeaways in less than 10 minutes. The Thunderbirds turned those into 21 points, with three scoring drives that all started in Ridgefield territory.

“Getting off to a quick start was a great way to get confidence to our guys,” Beattie said. “It was a great team effort this week.”

That would be just about the entirety of Tumwater’s offensive output for the game, but it wouldn’t matter. The Spudders couldn’t recover from the craziness of the opening stretch until it was much too late, as the T-Birds took a shutout into the fourth quarter.

Tumwater held Ridgefield to 215 total yards of offense, with just 31 coming on the ground, and 127 coming in the final quarter.

The T-Birds, meanwhile, managed just 231 yards of their own, led by 67 from Matheney and 106 through the air from Alex Overbay, who finished 8 for 12 with a passing touchdown and a rushing score. 

Many of Tumwater’s offensive troubles were self-inflicted; the T-Birds were flagged five times for holding, to go along with five defensive penalties on the other side of the ball.

But their offensive miscues came with a built-in 21-point cushion, which made them a fair bit easier to swallow.

“The offense did enough to get it done,” Beattie said. “We got in our own way most of the night, but we found a way to do it.”

And though the offense had slowed down in the second quarter, Matheney helped the T-Birds get off to another blazing start in the second half, taking the opening kickoff straight up the middle for 90 yards and a touchdown.

“It was huge, it set the stage for the second half,” Beattie said. “Those guys work hard on kick return, and to see it pay off tonight was awesome.”

Tumwater will take its win into Sunday’s selection process, where the T-Birds will learn their ultimate seeding fate. The Thunderbirds went into the weekend ranked fifth in the AP Poll, and fourth in the WIAA’s RPI; barring an unexpected fall they should earn hosting rights in the first round with a top-eight seed.