By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — A one-sided win on Saturday night gave the Lake Stevens Vikings a chance to match up against one of the most prolific passers in state history in Skyline quarterback Max Browne.
But when it comes to eye-popping numbers, not even Browne can ignore some of those put up by the Vikings in what is likely to be their final home game of the 2012 season.
In Saturday night’s 4A quad-district game, Lake Stevens outscored Kentlake 30-20 while piling up 207 yards, scoring four touchdowns and breaking off a pair of runs that exceeded 50 yards.
And that was just in the second quarter.
Throw in a blocked punt for a safety, an interception return touchdown, and a measly 4-yard touchdown run that running back Austin Otis added to his scores from 70 and 56 yards, and the Vikings kept the scoreboard operator busy for most of the night, knocking off Kentlake 67-33.
“We had some spurts, that’s for sure,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said after the Vikings (9-2) piled up 373 rushing yards, 522 total yards and nine touchdowns in the win. “… The kids just played their tails off tonight.”
Lake Stevens running back Austin Otis racked up 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter, and he might not even have been the Vikings’ star of the game.
Receiver/defensive back Connor Coleman was the go-to guy early on, with eight of his game-high 10 receptions coming before halftime, and he scored his third touchdown of the night on a 59-yard, icing-on-the-cake interception return to give Lake Stevens a 41-point lead with 6:30 remaining.
“This is one of my good games; I’m not going to lie,” said Coleman, who had 121 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Gavin McNeil. “It was a great game for me. But it’s all because of my quarterback and the line. My quarterback (O’Neil) was able to give me the ball a lot.”
O’Neil had quite a productive night as well, rushing for two touchdowns in the final 34 seconds of the first half to open up a 39-20 halftime lead. He also threw for two touchdowns while completing 14 of 22 passes for 149 yards.
During the course of the game, there were four occasions when back-to-back touchdowns were scored within a minute of each other _ including a remarkable spurt in the second quarter in which the two teams combined for three touchdowns in a span of 1:14.
Lake Stevens opened and closed the first half with full momentum, but the time between saw an incredible seesaw battle of offenses. After the Vikings jumped out to a 12-0 lead nine seconds into the second quarter, the lead changed hands three times while the two teams piled up 370 yards and 50 points in that quarter alone.
A safety, touchdown and field goal gave Lake Stevens the early lead, and all indications were that the Vikings were on their way to a blowout win before Kentlake’s passing game got the Falcons back into the game. Two Church Steffin-to-Marshall Jones touchdown passes within a 59-second span _ packaged around a muffed squib kickoff _ put Kentlake in front 14-12 with 9:25 remaining in the half.
Lake Stevens quickly responded with a 70-yard touchdown run by Otis to take the lead back, at 19-14, before another Steffin touchdown pass, this time to Jordan Laurencio, put Kentlake ahead 20-19 with 7:17 remaining.
By that point, the two teams had combined for 214 yards and 31 points in a span of 14 snaps and less than five minutes.
But it was a pair of defensive plays, both of them sacks by the Vikings, that turned the tide back in Lake Stevens’s favor. Evan Miksch made a nice inside move to sack Steffin and force a Kentlake punt, setting up another Otis touchdown run, this time from 56 yards out, on the second play of the Vikings’ next drive. Colby Henderson added a third-down sack on the Falcons’ following possession, and Lake Stevens used that momentum to march 69 yards in six plays _ the last one an O’Neil touchdown run to put the Vikings ahead 32-20 with 34 seconds left.
O’Neil got into the end zone again, 30 seconds later, after teammate Tanner Krenz intercepted a Steffin pass at the Kentlake 35 and returned it all the way to the 6-yard line.
In the 12-minute second quarter, Lake Stevens out-gained the Falcons 207-163 in total yardage and outscored Kentlake 30-20.
O’Neil and Coleman put the final nail in Kentlake’s coffin when they hooked up for another touchdown, this one from 29 yards out, on the opening drive of the second half for a 46-20 lead.
After the Falcons scored to pull within 20, the game turned ugly on an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty that sent Kentlake’s Nu’u Vaifale to the locker room after being ejected. Vaifale needlessly body-slammed Lake Stevens receiver Mawuli Attipoe onto his head after the whistle following a short reception midway through the third quarter. Attipoe had to be helped off the field and did not return.
When all was said and done, the Vikings had earned a date with 4A favorite Skyline in a playoff game sometime next week.
“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Tri said. “Everybody knows how good Skyline is. We’re going to have face them eventually, and I’d rather face them early and see if you can’t go out there and get an upset.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
LS—Blocked punt recovered by Kentlake in end zone, 10:40
LS—Connor Coleman 3 p. from Gavin O’Neil (Ignacio Ponce kick), 6:26
LS—Ponce 36 FG, 11:51
K—Marshall Jones 58 p. from Church Steffin (Gunner Terrio kick), 10:24
K—Jones 25 p. from Steffin (Terrio kick), 9:25
L—Austin Otis 70 run (Ponce kick), 9:10
K—Jordan Laurencio 39 p. from Steffin (pass failed), 7:17
L—Otis 56 run (Ponce kick), 4:26
K—O’Neil 1 run (pass failed), 0:34
K—O’Neil 6 run (Ponce kick), 0:04
L—Coleman 29 p. from O’Neil (Ponce kick), 9:22
K—Nu’u Viafale 1 run (run failed), 6:26
L—Otis 4 run (Ponce kick), 11:55
L—Andrew Grimes 10 run (Ponce kick), 6:58
L—Coleman 59 int. return (Ponce kick), 6:30
K—Riley Higgins 20 run (Terrio kick), 1:24