The No. 3 Bombers edged the Wolverines despite 229 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Isaiah Ifanse.
Cade Jensen hugged every coach, teammate, relative and fan he could find afterward.
His first varsity start, after sitting most of the last two years as the backup quarterback for the Richland High School football team, ended in sheer delirium.
Jensen, a senior, delivered his defining athletic moment once he got his chance, engineering a late, game-winning, 80-yard drive that ended in a 9-yard touchdown run by Parker McCrary with 2:31 left as Richland outlasted Bellevue 24-21 in a nonleague season opener.
“That was the most fun I think I’ve ever had in my life,” said Jensen, who took over for graduated starter Paxton Stevens and directed the No. 3-ranked Class 4A team to victory. “(Coach Mike) Neidhold since Day 1 said you come to Richland to play in big games, and this one was for sure a big game. I’m just happy I’d could be a part of it and happy I could succeed in it.
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“You know Bellevue’s a really tough team. They’re almost unstoppable, but we played a great game tonight.”
Bellevue senior running back Isaiah Ifanse, who finished with 229 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries, helped the Wolverines come alive in the second half.
Ifanse gave Bellevue its first lead of the game at 21-17 by ducking under the pile over the left side for a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:34 left in the game. Ifanse and the Wolverines cashed in after Taylor Goins came up with a Richland fumble nine plays earlier at the Richland 48-yard line.
“He’s just an amazing running back,” Jensen said of Ifanse. “I’m surprised not every college in the country isn’t coming for him. He’s unstoppable. It’s tough to sit on the sideline and do nothing about it. He’s definitely a workhorse and deserves a lot of credit for Bellevue’s success.”
With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Richland took over at its own 20-yard after a Bellevue punt resulted in a touchback. That’s when Jensen caught fire, hitting 4 of 4 passes, including a 46-yard deep pass to Josh Mendoza to the Bellevue 9-yard line.
One play later, McCary went over left tackle for the winning score. Jensen finished his first start 22 of 27 passing for 328 yards and one TD.
“This was my first-ever varsity…