EVERETT — Roman Savchuk’s teammates joke with him that he’s allergic to the end zone. He absolutely hates it.
But after his performance on Friday, the lighthearted barbs directed at Mariner’s go-to reciever won’t likely continue.
The 6-foot-2 junior wide receiver caught his first two touchdown passes of the season, including the go-ahead 37-yard touchdown reception with 49 seconds remaining to steer Mariner (2-3, 2-1 Wesco 4A) to a 25-20 win over Jackson (3-2, 1-2) on Friday at Goddard Stadium.
“When in doubt, we say ‘Throw it to Roman,’” Mariner head coach Mark Stewart said. “And so we did.”
Savchuk connected with quarterback Jackson Cole on a fade route outside the numbers to put the Marauders up five points late.
“That last play is what we do,” Stewart said. “We drop it in the bucket outside the numbers and (Cole) did it, so Roman’s going to go up and catch the ball. That was pretty textbook, it’s something we work on and we feel like we should be able to go out and do.”
Jackson quarterback Ben Olsen completed a string of passes to drive the ball into Marauder territory over the remaining 40 seconds, but couldn’t punch it in as Garrett Holden caught a pass just outside the corner of the end zone as time expired.
“All I saw was the dude catch the ball and was praying he was out of bounds,” Savchuk said. “(I was) happy. I had to do a backflip after.”
Savchuk was the team’s leading reciever on Friday, catching three passes for 61 yards against the Timberwolves. His first touchdown came on a broken play and Cole eventually found him in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to put Mariner up 14-10 at halftime.
Mariner struck first with Josiah Pesterkoff’s 7-yard run at the 5:29 mark in the first quarter, but the Timberwolves responded with poise, capping a 13-play, 80-yard drive with Olsen’s 17-yard pass to Isaac Greyson with 1:00 remaining in the quarter.
Jackson’s Noah Katabana gifted his team prime field position, as the sophomore defensive back jumped an out route for an interception deep in Marauder’s territory to provide the Timberwolves first-and-goal from the 9. But Mariner dug in their heals and held Jackson to a 22-yard field goal from Donguk Yoon.
Pesterkoff bounced a 27-yard run to the home sideline on the Marauders’ next play from scrimmage and then Devonte Donaldson followed with a 21-yard run, helping set up Savchuk’s first score.
The Marauders remains firmly in the playoff hunt in Wesco 4A after the win. Jackson, which fell to 1-2 in conference play after starting the season 2-0, will have to scramble to make up ground.
“This is a big win for us,” Stewart said. “It gets us back on the right track. We didn’t play great last week against Monroe. Monroe is a good football team, but it just gives us some confidence that we can go out and get things done. … It’s something we can build on.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
It wasn’t one of his two touchdown, but Savchuk hauled in a 16-yard catch over the middle on fourth-and-8 after dropping a pass the previous play.
There is never any doubt when targeting Savchuk with the game on the line, according to Cole.
“He’s just a big boy, a big, mean competitor,” Cole said. “He’s got that swag. He’s got that, ‘I’m going to make this play and you’re not going to stop me’ attitude. And so, (we) just go to him. He’s got the hands.”
Pestekoff scored twice and led the Marauders in rushing with 107 yards on 14 carries.
Olsen completed 13-of-22 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown for Jackson.
EMERGENCY QB GETS IT DONE
Cole, the Marauders’ starting signal-caller on Friday, wasn’t aware he’d be under center for Mariner until Thursday. Mariner’s No. 1 quarterback, junior Denis Biryuk, was unable to go late in the week because of an injury, focing Cole, a sophomore, to step in.
“Two weeks ago when Jackson (Cole) started, we knew he was going to be starting,” Stewart said. “(This week) Jackson spent the whole week on defense and then this morning we said, ‘Nope, you’re on offense.’ He did a great job. … He’s a pretty cool cat for a sophomore and a guy that hasn’t played a lot of varsity football. He’s got a good athletic sense, so he can learn quickly.”