Matthew Cindric hasn’t run that fast since third grade. And, the last time the Skyline ran more than it passed the ball can’t be remembered.
Cindric, the Spartans’ 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end, scored on a scoop-and-score fumble recovery to end the first half and quarterback Joe Green led Skyline on a late, fourth-quarter drive for a 31-28 victory as the host Spartans repelled Bothell’s comeback effort on Friday night in a Class 4A state opener at Skyline.
“Joe’s just been progressing all year, and he’s a great leader,” Cindric said. “I knew on that last drive when I looked into his eyes, that we were going to go score and sure enough we did. Bothell is a great team and they have great players, and obviously they caught a little fire.”
Skyline (8-3) travels to face Central Valley of Spokane (9-1), a 22-15 winner over defending state champion Camas, next weekend in the quarterfinals.
Bothell, which finished 8-3, rallied with 21 unanswered points to take a 28-24 lead with a little more than eight minutes remaining. Cindric and the Spartans’ defense harassed Bothell quarterback Jacob Sirmon, a UW commit, into a fumble and two interceptions.
Sirmon finished with 241 yards passing and two TDs on 20-of-29 passing and he ran for two more scores, but Cindric sacked him four times and there were numerous pressures.
“We have a fantastic team, but (Cindric) is our leader, and he’s our team,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “We’ve had games where he was injured twice and our team was looking around, and he’s so important to us. To have that touchdown (at the end of the first half), it was unbelievable.
“That was the whole game right there. That was amazing.”
Green’s 1-yard TD run over the left side gave Skyline the lead back with 2:21 left in the game, 31-28. The score capped a 13-play, 85-yard drive that took almost six minutes off the clock.
The Spartans went away from their customary highflying passing attack after scouting revealed they had a chance for rushing success. Senior running back Prescott Wong carried a career-high 38 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s one of my favorite running backs I’ve ever played with,” Cindric said of the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Wong. “Once he’s hitting that hole, he’s hitting it hard and he’s running over anybody who’s in his tracks. I’m proud to be his teammate.
“We watched a lot of film of the Eastlake-Bothell game and Eastlake was very successful on the run. That was definitely something we were planning to do coming into this game.”
Sirmon’s 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown trimmed the Skyline lead to 24-21 for Bothell with 1:19 left in the third quarter. The Cougars drove 56 yards in six plays.
Another short field and three penalties — one a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — allowed Bothell to go in front 28-24 when Sirmon bulled up the middle for a 4-yard TD run with 8:03 left in the game.
After Skyline scored with 2:21 remaining, Bothell had one last real chance. The Cougars’ drive ended when Will Carson intercepted a Sirmon pass and returned it 27 yards to the Bothell 16.
Skyline reached the quarterfinals for the third season in a row and for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons.