With Middleton gunning for the upset late in the fourth quarter, Timberline put the ball in Mitchell Peirsol’s hands.
The standout defensive end came through for the second straight game, knocking down multiple defenders on a 47-yard touchdown run to seal Timberline’s 28-19 nonconference victory over Middleton on Thursday night.
Peirsol also scored all four of the Wolves’ touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over two-time defending 4A state champion Bishop Kelly last week.
“I thought he was down like four times, and then he kept running and scored a touchdown,” Timberline coach Kirk Copeland said. “I was really excited about that. It was a great effort.”
Peirsol, who starts on defense and comes in for key plays at running back, finished with 67 yards on seven carries, helping Timberline improve to 4-0 for the second year in a row. It reached 4-0 for the first time last year.
“That was just great blocking by the O-line. We’ve been working really hard in practice on that outside run,” Peirsol said. “It just paid off this week when we needed it.”
Middleton, a 4A program, nearly pulled off the upset of the 5A Wolves, cutting Timberline’s lead to 14-12 with 5:13 to go in the fourth quarter and then 21-19 with 2:44 to play.
The Vikings attempted just two passes in the first half, but they turned to the air in the final quarter to put the Wolves on their heels.
Quarterback Garrett Gasaway threw seven straight passes on Middleton’s final touchdown drive, completing four of them and drawing a pass interference penalty on Timberline. Three of Gasaway’s completions went to senior Caleb Harrel, who eventually scored on a 13-yard pass to bring Middleton within a field goal at 21-19.
“Our kids fought hard. Timberline’s a good team,” Middleton coach Bill Brock said. “We had our chances. I thought our kids played well, we just didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”
After Harrel’s touchdown, Middleton’s kickoff went badly, putting Timberline on the Middleton 47. That’s when the Wolves brought in Peirsol for the game-saving score.
“That was unbelievable,” Timberline quarterback Justin Lavin said of Peirsol’s run. “I think we’re going to see runs like that out of him all year.”
Lavin did some damage of his own in the first half, scoring on runs of 7 and 13 yards for a 14-6 Timberline lead at the half.
“It’s good to get this win, but we need to step it up when we get to pod play, because that’s the games that matter,” Peirsol said.
The Wolves and Vikings both start conference play next week.