Seagull Luke Hamilton gives the crowd a roar after he carried the ball across the line for the game winning touchdown.
Raymond was able to mount a comeback and during the final two minutes of the game, scored to take a one-point advantage over the Braves. But it was decision time. Raymond took a timeout to discuss their options at this point of the game. A classic extra point would give them a two-point lead, but there was enough time for the Braves to reach field goal range and win if they made it; going for and making a 2-point conversion would mean a tie and overtime if the Braves could make a field goal in the remaining 1:30 left on the clock; going for and not converting the 2-point play, would still leave them ahead, but at risk of losing by field goal, and in not better shape then if they stick the extra point attempt. They risked going for the tie and it paid off.
After Seagull Luke Hamilton ran the 5-yard touchdown that took Raymond over the top, quarterback Kason Koski kept the ball and (with the strength of his offensive line and back field) pushed through the LaConner defensive line converting for the two.
With fans on their feet for the final kickoff to the receiving Braves, the Seagulls made sure that they did not get past midfield. LaConner went straight to the air completing back-to-back passes looking to have control and time to penetrate Raymond territory. In less than 30 seconds they had made up ground and were on the move. Dynamic pressure from the Raymond defense sealed the fate of the Braves as a loose ball found its way into the hands of Seagull Pedro Villegas, giving back control of the game and the win to Raymond.
"We had a great game overall, the entire team and the coaching staff," said Raymond Head Coach Luke Abbott.
The crisp afternoon at Stewart Field in Aberdeen was almost balmy compared to the warriors of the night before battling in 26-degree weather during the 2B ran at state football tournament currently underway. And for the Seagulls and Braves, both teams were ready to hit the turf and get their teams pumped with adrenaline to keep the athletes warm.
Right out of the chute, LaConner took advantage of first possession and scored first on a double reverse ending with Cameron Hansen and six points. LaConner unable to convert the extra opportunity. Next possession, Raymond, just as determined and matched the Braves score with Rayce Newman taking a 10-yard run, and with Andres Martinez sure foot, a one-point lead. The Braves again answered back - this time with Seth Schuh and again the extra point foiled, blocked by Newman.
The Seagulls would play "hang-on and catch-up" through the rest of the half with LaConner looking to Lady Luck on their side. As soon as the Seagulls got within a touchdown, the Braves pulled back ahead. Looking like they were on a run to the end zone, the Seagulls had converted on a fourth and short in the second quarter, just to have the ball taken away by the Braves Budda Luna, who would also score two plays later and this time the extra point struck through solid.
Down 25-13 at the half, Raymond would get first possession.
"We were still in the game at that point, and I did not want the team to think it was an unattainable goal...we had a whole other half to play," said Abbott.
And play the boys did. A 16-yard touchdown run by Elliott Murdock finished the possession that started on their own 27-yard line, and took just under three minutes off the clock.
La Conner quarterback Trey Johnson connected with receiver Budda for a 68-yard run catch score and that kept the Braves at arms length. A partial power outage stopped the game for 10-minutes, reminiscent of the Raymond-North Beach game earlier in the year, but this game would not be rescheduled, they would play on. With the Seagulls in control the call would go to Luke Hamilton who crossed the goal line with 0:02 seconds remaining in the quarter and the Seagulls, for the third time were within five points of La Conner.
The closing quarter was a defensive battle with both teams punting out of the initial possessions. Raymond got a bit of a break when the second time the Braves went to punt, it took a little Raymond bounce gaining back a few extra yards and set them on the path that would close out the game on the Hamilton run and Koski keeper.
"That team (La Conner), is very well coached, and they have a lot of talent. We were just fortunate to come out with the win," said Abbott, "we made the right decisions tonight, made the adjustments we needed."
The win moves the Seagulls into the second round of 2B State play and they will face the Napavine Tigers next Friday in Centralia. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 pm. It is rumored that you might need an umbrella.