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Bothell beats Coeur d'Alene, faces perenial power Bellevue on Friday | Photos
Any doubts about the young Bothell High School football team were erased Saturday at Husky Stadium. The game, which was a part of the Emerald City Classic, featured the Cougars against Coeur d'Alene High School, the Idaho state champion from 2010 and 2011.
But the Cougars won the game 44-43 during the final two minutes, on the arm of their only returning starter from 2012 - quarterback Ross Bowers.
"[Bowers] made great strides and had a wonderful second half," said Bothell head coach Tom Bainter. "He's always tough and a great leader."
Bainter also gave a lot of credit to the other side of the ball for a big defensive stand in the waning minutes of the game.
"I'll tell you what, they played with heart," said Bainter. "We were going to kick an onside and our defensive coordinator said we're going to stop them coach. We trust each other. We held them and our defense won the game. As weird as that sounds giving up 43, our defense won the game."
The final four minutes of the fourth quarter was a wild ride for Cougars' fans as the two teams traded possession four times, including two turnovers, and had one big lead change.
Bothell started the game fast with an 88-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff by Sam McPherson.
But the Vikings would answer with a 70-yard drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion to take the 8-7 lead. Coeur d'Alene added to that lead with two more unanswered touchdowns and two-point conversions for the big 24-7 advantage.
"[Bowers] was holding the ball too long in the first half and we told him to just trust his instincts and throw the ball like he can," said Bainter. "He did and he threw the ball on time and threw it well."
The Cougars didn't give in, as Bowers' 17-yard pass found Dayzell Wilson for a touchdown on the next possession. The Vikings extended their lead to 30-14 before halftime.
Bothell's first possession of the second half resulted in a 24-yard touchdown run on the legs of Colton Sather. The two-point conversion brought the Cougars back to within one score of tying the game. And that score came just minutes later. Bowers and Wilson hooked up again for a 23-yard touchdown reception. Another two-point conversion tied the game at 30-30.
The Coeur d'Alene offense just kept on chugging along, scoring on its next possession to retake the lead. A second unanswered touchdown extended the lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to 43-30.
But Bowers showed those leadership skills Bainter talked about by leading the Cougars down the field on a drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Damani St. Johns.
The Vikings then received the ball and stalled out on offense, giving Bothell the posession on Coeur D'Alene's 40-yard line as the Cougars' defense came up big.
Bowers would take advantage with one play. A 40-yard touchdown pass to Sather with less than two minutes remaining gave the Cougars a 44-43 lead.
The Bothell defense would again hold off the Vikings to hold on for the comeback victory.
The Cougars began the 2012 season with three losses. The win against the Vikings gives the young Bothell team something they did not have a chance at last year - an undefeated record. The team will be tested at 7 p.m. on Friday with a big showdown at perennial powerhouse Bellevue.
Bellevue defeated Skyline Saturday at Husky Stadium 45-7 to kick off its season.
Reporter Josh Suman contributed to this report.
Photos by Josh Suman
The Bothell defense swarms Coeur d'Alene's quarterback for a sack on the third-to-last drive of the game.
Bothell's Colton Sather celebrates with a teammate after catching the game-winning touchdown pass at Husky Stadium.