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With Bellevue in need of a season-saving spark, Luke Scoma delivers - with his foot

The Wolverines' kicker converts a must-have onside kick, then boots the game-winning field goal in the reigning Class 3A champions' 22-20 state quarterfinal victory over Gabarri Johnson-led Lincoln of Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. - Luke Scoma started kicking footballs in the fourth grade, all with an eye on someday being in the position to make big-time contributions.

He was Saturday afternoon for the defending Class 3A champion Bellevue Wolverines.

First, Scoma perfectly executed an onside kick - then booted a game-winning 43-yard field goal in the final seconds as fifth-seeded Bellevue recovered for a wild 22-20 WIAA quarterfinal victory over No. 4 seed Lincoln.

As his long field goal cleared the crossbar, but ricocheted off the apparatus support, the Abes' sideline protested the call, thinking the kick was short (it wasn't) with 16.5 seconds to go at Lincoln Bowl.

Gabarri Johnson tried a desperation heave on Lincoln's first play after the field goal, but it was intercepted - ending the state's top quarterback's career before going off to Missouri.

"It was a tough one to take in all at once," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, it was redemption for Scoma, who missed key early-season kicks to propel the Wolverines back into the state semifinals where they will face Yelm next weekend.

Scoma was even carried off on his teammates' shoulders.

"I believed in myself. All of my teammates believed in me, and the coaches - and that gave me confidence," Scoma said.

"It went straight. I got a little bit under it, but it carried enough."

There was plenty of high drama that preceded Scoma's kick.

Although the Abes got into the red zone twice in the first half, it was Bellevue's Ishaan Daniels that provided the only touchdown before halftime - an 83-yard scamper around right end with 8:36 remaining in the first quarter.

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In the locker room, Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto challenged his signal caller to become the playmaker the offense needed - and Johnson responded in a big way a pair of touchdown runs (10, 7 yards) to go along with 355 yard of total offense (27 carries, 181 yards; 18-of-22, 174 yards).

"I thought it was time to take matters into my own hands," Johnson said.

And after Navarre Dixon gave the Abes a 20-13 lead on his 2-yard touchdown run with 3:01 to go, the Abes went for the win with a two-point conversion - but missed on a Johnson pass.

The Wolverines marched 51 yards on their next drive, capped by Carson Rubin's 2-yard burst up the middle with 57.1 seconds to go to cut it to 20-19.

Bellevue coach Michael Kneip rolled the dice on a two-point conversion, but Rubin was stuffed near the goal-line by the right side of the Lincoln defense.

Scoma's onside kick took a high bounce once it hit the turf, and Caymus Rooney came down with the football to give Bellevue new life.

"(Special teams) has sort of been our Achilles heel," Matsumoto said. "It came back and hurt us ... ."

It all set the stage for Scoma's winning kick.

"So happy for that kid to make that field goal," Kneip said. "He deserved it."

Daniels led the Bellevue rushing attack with 168 yards, while Rubin had 149 yards.

Unofficially, Johnson ended his memorable three-year run as the Abes' starting quarterback with 8,903 yards and 111 touchdowns, and knows he will leave for college with plenty of admirers around the state - and fans for life in the city.

"If you bleed for this city," Johnson said, "they will bleed for you."