Tumwater built momentum off three first-quarter touchdowns, propped up a 42-point lead at half, and kept the fire burning all the way to a 50-7 win Friday night to take the 22nd annual Pioneer Bowl over host Black Hills.
The playoff-bound Thunderbirds (5-2) kept the Wolves (1-7) under 100 yards on the night. It was a rare passing night for Tumwater, with junior quarterback Alex Overbay going 3 for 7 on 162 yards. Two of those three passes translated into touchdowns.
Payton Hoyt led Tumwater in rushing with nine carries on 67 yards gained, and Carlos Matheney had five carries over 47 yards. Both tallied a single touchdown each.
Tumwater’s Ashton Paine, Terry Austin, Ryan Otton, Seth Well and Zach Summers also secured a touchdown each.
“Our kids rose to that challenge. They took the game seriously, were prepared and I’m very proud of how they came out that first half,” said head coach Bill Beattie.
Both teams came into the Pioneer Bowl fresh off losses and with a chip on their shoulders. Though Tumwater fell 28-26 the week prior to 4A Camas, Beattie said they were focused coming into this week on making improvements and playing aggressive football.
“I thought Alex (Overbay) did a nice job throwing the ball tonight, kind of opening things up a bit,” Beattie said.
Some of that aggressiveness also showed up in the T-Birds’ defense, Beattie said, noting that middle linebacker Caleb Sadlemyer and the other defensive line bottled-up the offense well.
Otton led all Tumwater tacklers with four and one sack.
Black Hills head coach Garrett Baldwin, who’s rounding out his first year leading the Wolves, said the game definitely didn’t go as planned.
“That’s a good football team -- all the way, through and through. And they got depth. Hats off to them. They did a great job, they played hard and they earned it. Our guys, they’ll tell you they didn’t compete, they didn’t play as well as they wanted to. But they had fun and made memories,” Baldwin said.
The Wolves’ lone touchdown came in the third quarter, when freshman quarterback Jaxsen Beck ran in an 8-yard opportunity on a pile-up. It was the first time the team scored in a Pioneer Bowl since 2018, when the Wolves clinched a 22-17 win over the T-Birds.
“He rolls his ankle early, and the kid just won’t get off the field. He’s just a fighter, and he knows this team needs to see that and this team needs toughness,” Baldwin said of Beck. “He has it, man.”
Black Hills struggled the night with injuries. At least three players in the second quarter alone walked off the field or shook off a nasty hit.
The Wolves will host the 6-2 W.F. West Bearcats next Friday, Oct. 29, in what will likely be their final game of the season. Tumwater will face Centralia next Friday at a neutral site.