Oct. 28—It's a cliche to say in a rivalry game one can "throw out the records." But cliches are cliches for a reason.
The last six Battle of the Bell rivalry game — between Mead and Mt. Spokane — have all been decided by 10 points or less — regardless of the records between the teams.
And so it was Friday night, though one team was planning for a playoff game next week and the other playing for pride.
Tristan Olson scored on three long touchdown receptions in the first half, and Mt. Spokane did just enough down the stretch to fend off the Panthers in a 27-20 win to win a fourth consecutive Bell.
"Battle of the Bell is always hard, because both teams bring it," Olson said. "Both teams wanted it so bad. The competition was definitely there."
"That's the way it should be," Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said of the close game. "That's what you want it to be. We wish it wasn't gonna be, but they did a great job of having their kids ready, and they had a great game plan to run the ball and they've got good guys up front and they're physical."
"It was a great high school football game," Mead coach Keith Stamps said. "It was two schools with a shared community and a great crowd and a great night — the weather held up. I thought both teams played really, really hard tonight. And yeah, and I'm proud of the way our guys played."
Olson, who missed the first half of the season with a collarbone injury, finished with six catches for 154 yards. His scoring plays were of 27, 58 and 40 yards.
"Any time a kid misses that much time in their senior year, you hope that they come back and have success," Cloer said. "And for him to have three touchdowns the first half, you know, I'm happy for the young man."
"We've got a lot a lot of weapons on the team," Olson said. "If you're going to try to double-team one guy, there's gonna be three more that are open."
Greater Spokane League touchdown leader Bode Gardner added to his total with a 28-yard swing pass for a TD that made it a two-score game late but was limited to two catches for 33 yards.
"Obviously, he's a good player," Stamps said of Gardner. "They've got a bunch of good players. We spent a lot of time this week on some formation recognition stuff and making sure that we tried to take away the big play. In reality, we didn't, it just went the other way."
Jimmy Frahm (5-foot-6, 158 pounds) led Mead with 144 yards on 24 carries and a 6-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
"It's good to just come out as underdogs and kind of give it to them a little bit," Frahm said.
Mead leads the rivalry 13-12 since the first matchup in 1998. Mt. Spokane tied the rivalry at 13-13 since the first matchup in 1998. The Wildcats have won the past four and five of the past six.
Mead moved into Wildcats territory on its first drive, but a broken play resulted in a fumble recovered by Mt. Spokane at its 44. A personal foul after a 12-yard gain moved it to the Mead 27, where TJ Haberman hit Olson on a skinny post for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Frahm broke through the middle of the line for 24 yards to the Mt. Spokane 12. Two plays later, Keegan Mallon barreled into the end zone to tie it up.
The quick-strike Mt. Spokane offense answered as Haberman hit Olson on a 58-yard fly to go up 14-7.
On the Wildcats' next possession, Braeden Harvey picked off Haberman and returned it to the Mt. Spokane 19. Four plays later, Mallon carried it in from the 4, but the extra point was botched, and Mt. Spokane led 14-13 with 4:32 left in the half.
The Wildcats forced a punt and took the ball back with a minute to play. Haberman found Olson in the middle of the field for 41 yards, and with 11.8 seconds left found him again downfield for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The extra point made it 21-13 at halftime.
The teams traded punts through the third quarter.
Mt. Spokane took the ball at its 34 at the end of the quarter. Haberman hit Olson for 13, and a roughing the passer call moved the ball into Mead territory.
On first-and-10 at the 28, Gardner gathered a swing pass, hit the corner and bolted down the right sideline untouched for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked, and the Wildcats led 27-13 with 9:45 to go.
Mead went on a nine-play drive, culminated with a Frahm 6-yard TD, and the extra point made it 27-20 with 4:02 left.
The Panthers used all their timeouts and forced a punt, taking the ball back at their 25 with 2 minutes left. They turned to JJ Leman, a more prolific passer, at quarterback and he led Mead to the Mt. Spokane 36 with 3 seconds left.
But his Hail Mary to the end zone was knocked away by a defender, and the Wildcats held on to the Bell.
"These kids grow up together and know each other well enough and obviously, the community embraces it," Stamps said. "This is always gonna be a great football game."
Mt. Spokane wide receiver Tristan Olson rolls into the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown against Mead during the Battle of the Bell game Friday at Union Stadium in Mead.
Mt. Spokane's Maverick Norman tackles Mead's Jimmy Frahm on Friday at Union Stadium in Mead.