Issaquah Eagles lose to Skyline Spartans, 20-15

December 6, 2008

By Ryan Piersol

UPDATED — 3:03 p.m. Dec. 6, 2008

By Ryan Piersol

As the Skyline football team exited the field at the Tacoma Dome late Friday night, someone handed Ryan Somers the trophy they’d all worked so hard for.

No one seemed to be worried about Somers dropping it — not with the night he’d just had.

The senior’s interception with 2:06 to play helped seal the Spartans’ 20-15 win against rival Issaquah in the Class 4A state championship game. The win capped a second consecutive undefeated season by the Spartans and gave them their fourth state title in school history.

From the pigskin, to the championship trophy, to the moment — whatever it was, Somers was grabbing it and holding on.

“This feels great. We’ve been going at it for nine months straight,” he said. “We knew someone just had to step up and make a play. But we never had any doubt that we were going to win.”

Skyline finishes the season a perfect 14-0. Issaquah finishes 11-3. The two had met during the regular season with the Spartans rolling in a 38-0 rout.

Some thought this one might be closer, but perhaps no one but those on the Eagle sideline imagined it this close. After trailing 14-3 at halftime, Issaquah dominated the third period and used an incredible 19-play, 82-yard drive to seize a 15-14 lead with 8:29 left.

Facing a fourth-quarter deficit for only the second time this season, Skyline then got the ball at its own 32. Six plays into the drive, on a third and 13 play, quarterback Jake Heaps hooked up with Kasen Williams on a 40-yard fade route down to the Issaquah 3. The Spartans regained the lead three plays later on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Heaps to Jake Knecht. An ensuing two-point conversion failed and it was 20-15 with 4:29 remaining.

Issaquah quarterback Joey Bradley completed passes of 19 and 10 yards to Ross Zuhl to move the ball out to the Eagles’ 44. But, two plays later, as he was scrambling to his right to avoid a sack, he tossed one toward the sidelines and Somers stepped in front of it for the interception.

Issaquah got the ball back one more time, needing to go 77 yards in 1:03. The Eagles were only able to run four more plays and the celebration was once again on for Skyline.

“I saw Joey going to scramble and knew he was going to throw it. The ball just went into my hands,” Somers said of the interception. “We just keep our heads in those situations. Our coaching staff is probably the best in the state and we trust them.”

For Skyline, the difference came down to making plays. Issaquah out-gained the Spartans 330-206, topping them both on the ground and in the air. But, when it came time to make the plays that put the dent in the scoreboard, Skyline was up to the challenge.

“We’ve fought adversity all season and we fought adversity last year in the championship game,” Heaps said. “We knew we could come back. We never say die.”

Of the game-changing plays the Spartans made on offense, none were bigger than Heaps’ long hookup with Williams on the touchdown-winning drive.

“We had a different play called, but we saw them cheating over and we went with a fade,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said. “There really wasn’t much to say (on the final drive). They were putting five in the box and wanting us to run the ball. But you have to do what you do best.”

Heaps finished 13-of-21 passing for 163 yards and all three of the Spartans’ touchdowns. Bradley was 20-of-36 for 240 yards. Issaquah’s offense also got a big boost from Gellatly, who went for 84 yards and two scores on 23 carries.

Issaquah controlled the ball much of the first half, but struggled to score. The Eagles moved inside the Skyline 30 on each of their first two possessions, without scoring any points.

Skyline eventually made them pay, as Heaps finished off a 69-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to William Chandler in the flat, making it 7-0 with 26 seconds to go in the first period.

Issaquah answered with a 46-yard drive that culminated in a 26-yard field goal. But, on the next possession, Heaps found Knecht for a 45-yard touchdown bomb to push the Spartans to a 14-3 lead at the break.

The Eagles wasted little time getting back in the game in the third period. Their first possession of the half covered 79 yards and was finished with a 1-yard touchdown run by Gellatly. A two-point conversion failed, and it was 14-11.

On Issaquah’s next possession, the Eagles converted three straight third downs and used a 9-yard run by Bradley to get to the 1. Gellatly punched it in for the Eagles’ first lead one play later.

For Skyline’s game-winning drive, the Spartans went to Williams relentlessly. He had three catches for 55 yards.

And, once again, the Spartans were able to get it done in the Tacoma Dome. Skyline now sports an impressive 4-1 record in state final contests.

“It was just as great as last year. There wasn’t the comeback that there was last year, but it was just as sweet,” Spartans senior Gino Simone said. “This game is going to be remembered on the plateau for years.”

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