Archbishop Murphy makes the most of South Whidbey’s seven turnovers

LANGLEY — Same song, second verse.

For the second consecutive week the South Whidbey Falcons proved to be their own worst enemy, committing seven turnovers that proved their undoing as the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats prevailed 28-7 in a Cascade Conference football game Friday night.

Coming on the heels of a 19-0 loss at Cedarcrest in its previous game, South Whidbey (5-2 in league, 7-2 overall) dropped its second straight contest after reeling off seven victories to start the season.

“It’s hard to beat anybody with seven turnovers,” said South Whidbey coach Mark Hodson, whose team travels to Lynden to face the Lyncs in a 2A district crossover game next Friday or Saturday.

Archbishop Murhphy (7-0, 9-0), which hosts a first-round playoff game next Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium, remained unbeaten by converting four of the Falcons’ multiple miscues — carnage that included muffed punts, an interception and a blocked punt — into short scoring drives of 42, 32, 29 and 14 yards.

“South Whidbey had the turnovers that really, really hurt them,” Archbishop Murphy coach Rick Stubrud said. “That’s a good football team right there though and I was very impressed.”

Indeed, despite committing three first-half turnovers, South Whidbey was within 14-7 at the break, thanks to a stout defense that limited Archbishop Murphy to a handful of first downs and forced three punts. The Falcons’ Nick Tenuta and David Monell made key tackles for loss.

Particularly in the first two quarters, the Falcons piled up yardage and first downs behind the hard running of Levi Sawyer (20 carries, 130 yards) and Hunter Hawkins (12 carries, 75 yards). Hawkins’ short touchdown run late in the second quarter got South Whidbey on the scoreboard after dropping behind 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

“I thought our offensive and defensive effort was there,” Hodson said. “We were able to move the ball, but turnovers kill you. (Archbishop Murphy) is a physical football team, but I really thought we had a chance tonight.”

The Wildcats were without the services of their leading rusher, Henry Woods (898 yards, 15 touchdowns), who missed the game with a strained knee ligament. In his stead, Christian Milburn rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown and also shined on defense with multiple tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

“Christian stepped up and did well,” Stubrud said. “He came out and had a big game for us.”

South Whidbey forced an Archbishop Murphy punt on its first offensive series, but Ian Houts’ towering offering was mishandled by South Whidbey’s return unit and the Wildcats’ Jared Smith — who added a touchdown saving tackle later in the first half — pounced on the ball at the Falcons’ 29-yard line. Two plays later Russel Stiegler broke loose on a 20-yard touchdown run to provide Archbishop Murphy with a quick 7-0 lead.

The Falcons picked up a pair of first downs on their next offensive opportunity, but were foiled by a fumble at their own 42-yard line, which was recovered by Archbishop Murphy’s Alex Martinez.

It took just four plays for the Wildcats to capitalize when Tyler Allen (11 carries, 75 yards) swept left and dashed into the end zone on a 23-yard TD run to make the score 14-0.

Behind 14-7, South Whidbey’s defense forced a punt on Archbishop Murphy’s next series and took possession near midfield. Hawkins and Sawyer chewed up yardage on the ground to get the Falcons to the Wildcats’ 20-yard line. But, after avoiding a sack and rolling to his left Hoch threw a short pass that was intercepted by Milburn to ensure the Wildcats would maintain their seven-point advantage into halftime.

Already leading 21-7 after Milburn’s third quarter touchdown run midway through the final quarter, the Wildcats blocked a punt after a bad snap and turned that into another score — Stiegler’s 14-yard gallop for his second TD — to close out the Falcons.

At Waterman’s Field

A. Murphy14077—28

S. Whidbey0700—7

A. Murphy—Stiegler 20 run (Houts kick)

A. Murphy—Allen 23 run (Houts kick)

S. Whidbey—Hawkins 1 run (Fernandez kick)

A. Murphy—Milburn 5 run (Houts kick)

A. Murphy—Stiegler 14 run (Houts kick)

Records—A. Murphy 7-0 in league, 9-0 overalll. South Whidbey 5-2, 7-2.

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