Wolves use lights-out performance for first win over Spartans

October 25, 2011

By Christopher Huber

Andrew Giese, Skyline junior wide receiver, fumbles the ball with 31 seconds left to play, on a jarring hit by Eastlake defensive back Brian Quick. By Christopher Huber

It was the perfect exclamation point to a jubilant and historic moment for the Eastlake High School football team.

The lights literally went out at Eastlake as players celebrated defensive back Sean McDonald’s fumble recovery with 31.2 seconds left Oct. 21 that sealed the victory for the Wolves.

Once the power came back on, No. 1-ranked Eastlake rode out the clock as its fans cheered a 28-21 victory — the school’s first — over the Spartans, now 5-3 overall and 3-1 in KingCo Conference 4A.

“Everybody’s been waiting to beat Skyline and we did it,” Eastlake coach Gene Dales said as he celebrated with his family.

The Wolves improved to 8-0 (4-0 in KingCo 4A) and will face Woodinville Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Bothell’s Pop Keeney Stadium for the KingCo championship.

The roar of celebration came after Skyline quarterback Max Browne completed a 15-yard pass to receiver Andrew Giese as the Spartans drove down the field in a last-ditch effort to tie the game. Giese crossed the 30-yard line but was hit hard by Eastlake defensive back Brian Quick. The ball popped out and McDonald snatched it up, possessing it with a mob of ecstatic Wolves jumping all over him.

“It seems like it all comes in slow motion,” Quick said of the moment he caused the fumble.

The moment capped a much-anticipated battle between two of the best teams in the state.

It’s not like Skyline didn’t perform like usual. In typical fashion, Browne completed 29 of 48 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns; receiver Taggart Krueger caught 10 passes for 112 yards and the defense made some key stops down the stretch.

But Eastlake executed much better.

“Everything worked out the way it needed to,” Dales said. “Everything we’ve talked about we’ve been able to do.”

The Wolves tallied 206 yards of total offense in the first half and capitalized on numerous scoring opportunities. It helped that the Wolves defense sacked Browne five times as it constantly pressed and thwarted most big-play opportunities.

“We definitely had some opportunities in the game,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said. “Offensively, we just had to make some plays.”

Skyline struck first when Browne fired a 9-yard touchdown pass to running back Damian Greene, capping a 43-yard drive on its second possession of the game. Eastlake responded quickly. On the kickoff, Eastlake’s Colton Teglovic returned the ball 71 yards to the Skyline 19-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Keegan Kemp took it in on a 15-yard keeper to even the score at 7-7 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

Penalties hurt Eastlake early, but it didn’t matter much after running back Ryan Lewis exploded through the Skyline defense for a 68-yard touchdown run to end the first quarter and make it 14-7 Eastlake.

Bryan Cassill, an Eastlake defensive back, took away a prime Skyline scoring opportunity when he intercepted a Browne pass at the Wolves’ 4-yard line. The Wolves turned that turnover into a 96-yard scoring drive highlighted by an 85-yard run play from Lewis. He scored on a 2-yard rush off the left tackle. He credited his blockers for all the big plays.

“I gotta give everything to them,” Lewis said. “This was a great in for us. We just have to keep digging deep.”

Skyline trailed 21-7 at halftime.

Eastlake opened the third quarter with an 80-yard drive. The Wolves went up 28-7 after Lewis grabbed a loose ball from Kemp and scrambled up the right side for a 9-yard score 5 minutes into the half.

Browne made it interesting for the Spartans when he connected with receiver Mason Gregory for a 2-yard touchdown with less than 2 minutes left in the third. Down 28-14, Skyline moved quick, holding the Wolves off and scoring in three plays a few minutes into the fourth.

The Spartans missed some opportunities, but the Wolves defense kept with its game plan to press Browne and limit big plays, Quick said. Down the stretch, Eastlake swatted away what looked like sure catches for Skyline receivers and gave Browne little time to make decisions.

“It just wasn’t our night,” Taylor said.

Skyline, which finished second in the Class 4A state tournament last year, will play Roosevelt at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 in Seattle’s Memorial Stadium in a cross-over loser-out game. The winner advances to the preliminary round of the state playoffs.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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