By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — In a back-and-forth game of highlights and heroics, Lake Stevens went 66 yards in the final two minutes for the winning touchdown with 38 seconds to play to defeat Edmonds-Woodway on Friday night, 53-49, for the Wesco 4A football championship.
The Vikings trailed almost the entire game, but got a chance to pull out a thrilling comeback win after holding the visiting Warriors on downs with 2:08 to play in the fourth quarter.
Lake Stevens sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason directed the winning drive, passing on every down and completing six of nine attempts. On third-and-5 from the Edmonds-Woodway 7-yard line, Eason found Tevin Gray on the right side, and the junior wide receiver twisted and churned through the Warriors defense to reach the end zone.
The Vikings then recovered an Edmonds-Woodway fumble _ the Warriors tried a pass-and-lateral play that went awry on their first play after the kickoff_ and were able to take a knee once to run out the remaining seconds.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” said Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri. Despite trailing most of the game, “they just kept fighting,” he went on. “They never gave up. And they didn’t really worry about the score.
“In fact, we talked about that before the game. I said, ‘I don’t want you checking the scoreboard. There’s going to be adversity. We’re going to be up, we’re going to be down, let’s worry about the next play.’ And to their credit, that’s what they did.”
The Vikings got a huge game from Eason, who showed why he is one of the most promising young quarterbacks not only in Wesco, but in all of Washington. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore completed 37 of 50 attempts for 507 yards and six touchdowns. He passed for 321 yards and five TDs in the second half.
“You’d never know he was 15 years old,” Tri said. “He’s gotten better each week. He’s really taken a lot of time to understand what we’re trying to do, and now he’s really starting to progress and show (his talents) on the field.
“And what an awesome job by the offensive line,” he added. “Jacob had all night to throw and that starts with our front-five guys.”
Lake Stevens fell behind early, but then got its first of two leads in the game midway through the second period on a 32-yard field goal by place-kicker Ignacio Ponce. But the lead was fleeting as Edmonds-Woodway went back in front on its first play from scrimmage after the kickoff on a 77-yard pass from quarterback Davis Giles to wide receiver Jason Smarr, who stepped away from a Lake Stevens defensive back and dashed 77 yards for a touchdown that put the Warriors back on top.
And they would stay there until the final minute of the game. Lake Stevens pulled within 49-46 on a 16-yard TD pass from Eason to Gray with 5:56 to play in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings then kicked the ball to the end zone, giving the Warriors a first down at the 20.
Edmonds-Woodway gained three first downs, with the last one at the Lake Stevens 37. But two running plays gained 3 yards and two passes fell incomplete, giving the Vikings the ball and the time they needed to mount their winning drive.
“We had just enough time and just enough timeouts,” Tri said. “But it was a whirlwind. I can’t even remember the plays we called. We knew we were in a hurry, but we also had time, so we could use the clock. we could attack the middle of the field and we could attack the sidelines.
“We were in a hurry, but at the same time we never had to spike the ball. And I had enough time to gather my thoughts in between plays and find a different area to attack,” he said.
The Wesco 4A title was the second in three years for the Vikings, and their third straight crossover win over the Warriors, who lost their first game this season.
“It was nice that we were able to step up and make plays,” Tri said. “It was just a tremendous, well-played game by our guys.”
With the victory, Lake Stevens claims the top seed from District 1 and will host the Kingco No. 5 team Newport. Edmonds-Woodway, the district runner-up, will also play at home next week, taking on the No. 3 team from the South Puget Sound League Federal Way.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway 7 14 21 7 — 49
Lake Stevens 7 10 21 15 — 53
EW—Myricks 28 pass from Giles (Fatty kick)
LS—Brown 5 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
EW—Venema 7 run (Fatty kick)
LS—Otis 11 run (Ponce kick)
LS—Ponce 32 FG
EW—Smarr 77 pass from Giles (Fatty kick)
EW—Smarr 86 pass from Giles (Fatty kick)
LS—Otis 15 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
EW—Opoku-Mensah 6 run (Fatty kick)
LS—Gray 22 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
EW—Opoku-Mensah 17 run (Fatty kick)
LS—Gray 74 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
EW—Opoku-Mensah 12 run (Fatty kick)
LS—Gray 16 pass from Eason (O’Neil pass from Eason)
LS—Gray 7 pass from Eason (Ponce kick)
Records—Edmonds-Woodway is 8-1, Lake Stevens is 6-3.