By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — It was a showdown game between two longtime rivals and also a clash between two Wesco North contenders.
And it was so much more.
In a football game with plenty of offensive heroics and some occasional defense, at least in the first half, Lake Stevens went in front early and held off a stubborn Arlington team for a 56-39 homecoming victory Friday night.
The Vikings were led by sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, who was 19-for-29 for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers for four quarters, but Eason was even more special in the first two quarters, completing 14 of 18 passes for 295 yards and all three of his touchdowns as Lake Stevens built a 42-32 halftime lead.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Eason completed only one pass in the fourth quarter and it was a flat pass that lost 7 yards.
It was, said Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri, Eason’s best game of the season “by far. … Tonight he made great decisions. He held onto the ball as long as he could in the pocket. He took big hits, got back up and said, ‘Hey, I want to keep throwing it.’ I didn’t see any fear in him tonight.
“He’s grown up,” Tri added. “He’s no longer a sophomore. He’s our starting quarterback and we can rely on him.”
Of course, the most important statistic for the Vikings was the one in the win column. With the victory, Lake Stevens moved into a tie for first place with Arlington in the Wesco North, both at 2-1 in league and a half-game ahead of Mount Vernon, which had a non-conference game Friday.
Coming off a loss last week against Mount Vernon, getting back in the Wesco North race “was what we preached all week,” Tri said. “Now we sort of control our own destiny, and beating Arlington was a big part of that.”
Still, there were mistakes aplenty for Lake Stevens, which was porous defensively in the first half and had a huge special-teams miscue in the fourth quarter that gave Arlington a chance to get back in the game. Punting from their own end of the field, the Vikings mishandled a center snap and then got off a short, wobbly kick that was returned by the Eagles for a touchdown.
That drew Arlington within 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, 49-39, giving the Eagles a chance for a dramatic comeback win.
But Lake Stevens held on downs near the Arlington end zone, and then got a short touchdown run from senior running back Austin Otis for the game-clinching points. Otis finished with four touchdowns on runs of 14, 2, 16 and 4 yards.
The first half, meanwhile, was an offensive showcase, with the teams combining for 10 touchdowns in the first two quarters. They gave a hint of things to come in the game’s early moments, scoring three touchdowns — two by Lake Stevens — in less than three minutes.
Afterward, Tri admitted he had “mixed feelings” about his team’s showing.
“We played hard and we put 56 points on the board, but boy we made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “We have to get that stuff fixed real quick. It’s Week 6 and we shouldn’t be making those kinds of mistakes this late in the season.
“Teams are going to improve, and we’ve got to be one of those teams that continues to improve as well if we want to win a Wesco championship and make it to the playoffs and then win a playoff game,” he added. “But (the Vikings) played their hearts out, so I’m very happy for the guys.”
Arlington running back Jared Alskog left the game early in the second quarter and did not return. He watched the rest of the game on crutches on the sideline.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Arlington 13 19 0 7 — 39
Lake Stevens 28 14 7 7 — 56
LS—Otis 14 run (Ponce kick)
A—Lewis 3 pass from Scrimgeour (run failed)
LS—Otis 2 run (Ponce kick)
LS—Grimes 4 run (Ponce kick)
A—Gray 50 pass from Scrimgeour (Parra kick)
LS—Gray 16 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
A—Basham 1 run (kick failed)
A—Spady 49 pass from Scrimgeour (run failed)
LS—O’Neil 51 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
A—Gray 96 kickoff return (Parra kick)
LS—Gray 7 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
LS—Otis 16 run (Ponce kick)
A—Basham 33 punt return (Parra kick)
LS—Otis 4 run (Ponce kick)
Records—Arlington 2-1 league, 3-3 overall. Lake Stevens 2-1, 3-3.