POULSBO — With ice water in his veins and his right ankle pulsating, Colton Bower lined up a 32-yard field goal attempt with less than 30 seconds left in North Kitsap’s district playoff game against Fife. The two teams were tied at 25.
Bower had gotten a stinger earlier in the second half, but kept powering through on pure adrenaline. After scoring three touchdowns and kicking a field goal earlier in the game, he was moments away from capping a spectacular night.
The snap came in, the kick was up and it split the uprights. North Kitsap’s super sophomore sent his team to the 2A state tournament.
“I don’t think he ever feels pressure,” said North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible, who picked up his 100th career win and his second consecutive Gatorade bath. “I’ve never seen the kid get super excited, I’ve never seen him get super down.”
Bower rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns — he has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark both rushing and passing this season — and converted field goals from 32 and 25 yards in the 28-25 victory over a Trojans team that eliminated the Vikings on a late field goal of their own in the first round of last year’s 2A state tournament.
After taking a hit on a run in the third quarter, he came off the field for one play, but went right back out there and looked unaffected. With his team trailing by a touchdown after Fife hit a field goal with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter, Bower broke free for a 55-yard run that put his team on the 5-yard line. Moments later, he was in the end zone for the third time in the game with a 3-yard touchdown to tie it.
“I was in the moment, I was just running,” Bower said. “I can feel it right now, I’m going to be sore tomorrow. I was concerned for a second, but I’m good.”
With momentum on their side, the defense came up with a big stop on the ensuing Fife drive. Sofian Hammou dropped their quarterback for a sack on a third-and-long, forcing them to punt back to North Kitsap with 4:07 remaining.
The Vikings defense had been burned on a couple of long touchdown runs by Fife’s Jay Harper-Brooks in the first half, but they allowed just three points after halftime.
“They’ve got some really good skill kids, big kids, and guys that run hard,” Weible said. “They pushed us a little bit, but [defensive coordinator] Dave [Snyder] is always going to make adjustments to get the stops.”
North Kitsap’s last drive saw plenty of penalty flags thrown on both teams, but the end result was the Vikings advancing to the 19-yard line. Bower’s four-yard run set him up to boot the winning field goal.
“We had adversity, they had adversity,” Bower said. “Everybody has to overcome it at the end of the day, and we did, which was awesome to see.”
Bower opened the scoring on North Kitsap’s first drive with a four-yard touchdown and scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter. He also completed 4-of-8 passes for 49 yards, all to senior Josh Fisher. Running back Taylor Jackson complemented Bower on the ground with 15 rushes for 83 yards.
“We had to do everything we could to win that game,” Bower said.
The state playoff seeding committees meet on Sunday and the Vikings will learn whether or not they’ve earned a top-eight seed and a home game in the first round of the state tournament, or if they will have to hit the road. Sequim also won their district game and Olympic lost in the final minute to Franklin Pierce, which should help their case.
North Kitsap 28, Fife 25
FI 8 14 0 3 — 25
NK 10 8 0 10 — 28
North Kitsap — Colton Bower 4 run (Bower kick)
Fife — Jay Harper-Brooks 69 run (Malaki Koke run)
North Kitsap — Bower 25 field goal
Fife — Harper-Brooks 77 run (Gabriel Duenas kick)
North Kitsap — Bower 1 run (Bower run)
Fife — R.J. Edwards 5 pass from Duenas (Duenas kick)
Fife — Duenas 35 field goal
North Kitsap — Bower 3 run (Bower kick)
North Kitsap — Bower 32 field goal
Rushing — North Kitsap: Bower 21-175, 3 TDs; Jackson 15-83. Fife: Harper-Brooks 17-205, 2 TDs; Koke 20-59, Moreno 1-13, Jansen 1-5, Ale 2-3, Duenas 2-3, Koehn 1-(-2).
Passing — North Kitsap: Bower 4-8-49. Fife: Duenas 6-8-85, TD, INT; Koehn 0-1-0.
Receiving — North Kitsap: Fisher 4-49. Fife: Koehn 2-34, Edwards 2-20, TD; Ashwood 1-15, Harper-Brooks 1-6, Koke 1-6.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.