Jayden Limar ran for five touchdowns and Lake Stevens rolled past Eastlake for a 41-16 win Friday night in a Class 4A top-10 showdown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jayden Limar ran for five touchdowns and Lake Stevens rolled past Eastlake for a 41-16 win Friday night in a Class 4A top-10 showdown. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens bounces back, rolls past Eastlake in 4A top-10 clash

Jayden Limar runs for 5 TDs and the Vikings get back on track with a 41-16 win over the Wolves in a state semifinal rematch.

LAKE STEVENS — After suffering its worst loss in a decade, the Lake Stevens High School football team had to wait two long weeks for a chance to redeem itself.

When the Vikings finally took the field again Friday night, they washed away the bitter taste in dominant fashion.

Jayden Limar ran for five touchdowns and fifth-ranked Lake Stevens got back on track with a 41-16 non-league rout of 10th-ranked Eastlake in a Class 4A top-10 showdown between teams that met in last year’s state semifinals.

“After you lose, most people say they wash it after a few days,” Limar said. “I can’t wash it until we win again. … It was great to finally have this chance (and) to be able to come out here and win.”

Two weeks ago, reigning 4A state runner-up Lake Stevens traveled to the Portland area and suffered a humbling 45-6 loss to Oregon 6A juggernaut West Linn. It was the Vikings’ largest defeat in 10 years — and a stunning result for a perennial powerhouse program that’s used to being on the other side of those lopsided beatdowns.

And after struggling Jackson forfeited its game against Lake Stevens last Friday, the Vikings (4-2) were left with an extra week to stew about the shocking blowout loss.

They came out with something to prove against Eastlake.

“That was about as amped up in pregame as I’ve seen our kids in a while,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “They were definitely ready to play tonight.”

It was the Vikings’ second win over KingCo 4A power Eastlake (4-2) in less than 11 months. Last November, Lake Stevens beat the Wolves 45-28 in the 4A state semifinals.

In Friday’s rematch, Limar led the way with another big performance. The Notre Dame-bound senior running back rushed for 177 yards on 13 carries, scoring on TDs of 1, 27, 12, 81 and 16 yards.

Limar dazzled the crowd with his electrifying 81-yard score late in the third quarter, which was the longest run of his high school career.

After bursting up the middle on a handoff, Limar cut outside near midfield and sprinted down the sideline. Several Eastlake defenders appeared to have an angle on him. But with a spectacular surge of speed, he kicked it into another gear and raced past a handful of Wolves on his way to the end zone.

“That one was a jaw-dropper,” Tri said.

Limar has 788 total yards and 12 TDs in four-plus games of action this fall, while facing an ultra-tough non-league gauntlet of opponents. In Week 2, he racked up 295 total yards and three TDs to lead Lake Stevens past defending 3A state champion Bellevue.

“He’s a senior leader (and) wants it as much as anybody,” Tri said. “He puts the work in (and) the time in. … He gets all the accolades, but he earns it.”

Limar celebrates after one of his five touchdown runs. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Limar celebrates after one of his five touchdown runs. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Limar’s big night highlighted a strong offensive display by the Vikings. They scored TDs on six of their first seven non-end-of-half possessions and finished with 450 total yards.

Sophomore quarterback Kolton Matson had an efficient game, completing 14 of 17 passes for 174 yards, one TD and no interceptions.

Versatile sophomore receiver Cassidy Bolong-Banks totaled 94 yards on eight offensive touches. And junior receiver David Brown added three catches for 93 yards and one TD.

It was a definite step forward for Lake Stevens’ passing attack, which had uncharacteristically struggled prior to Friday. Over the first four games, Matson and junior Kaden LaPlaunt had combined for just five TD passes and six interceptions while splitting time at quarterback.

“Much better tonight,” Tri said of his team’s passing game. “We calmed down a little bit back there, and our receivers are doing a better job of creating a little separation and getting open. And (Kolton is) making good decisions with the ball. So we stuck with Kolton tonight, and I was pleased with the way he played.”

Lake Stevens also shined on defense, holding Eastlake to just 14 offensive points and 272 total yards. The Vikings surrendered a long game-opening TD drive, but clamped down after that.

“I thought our defense really toughened up,” Tri said. “We gave up seven points on the opening drive, but we made some adjustments. We were playing a 4-2 most of the game and we started slanting our D-line. And then we even went out and played a little 4-3, which is a little bit different than what we normally do.

“But we were just trying to guess what they were doing. And it worked, because we were mixing it up just enough that it caused a little bit of confusion on their end and slowed them down a little bit.”

Lake Stevens’ defense held Eastlake to just 272 total yards. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens’ defense held Eastlake to just 272 total yards. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

On the game’s opening possession, Eastlake junior receiver Grady Woodward took a screen pass for a 34-yard catch-and-run TD.

Lake Stevens quickly answered. Brown hauled in a short reception, slipped out of two tackles and sprinted down the left sideline for a 75-yard gain that set up a 1-yard TD by Limar.

Early in the second quarter, Matson and Brown capped a 15-play scoring drive by connecting for a 1-yard TD pass on third-and-goal. Then after the Vikings’ defense forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing Eastlake possession, Limar raced for a 27-yard TD to give Lake Stevens a 21-7 lead.

“We were able to run a really balanced offense,” Limar said. “And whenever you can do that, you’re always gonna be successful.”

The Vikings opened the second half in style, with Bolong-Banks gaining 42 yards on a reverse. Three plays later, Limar burst around the edge and dived inside the pylon for a 12-yard TD to stretch Lake Stevens’ lead to 28-7.

Later in the third quarter, Eastlake recovered a fumble on defense and senior running back Blake Borup rushed for a 4-yard TD to trim the deficit to 28-14.

But just two plays after that, Limar rattled off his highlight-reel 81-yard score. Limar then added his fifth TD in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 16-yard run to make it 41-14.

“The last two weeks (of practice) were pretty rough, I’ll be honest, because we worked them,” Tri said. “We ran a lot, we hit a lot, we worked hard. … We were pushing them. But I think they’ll be pretty happy with the results from tonight.”

Lake Stevens receiver David Brown stiff-arms an Eastlake defender. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens receiver David Brown stiff-arms an Eastlake defender. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Woodward led Eastlake with 11 catches for 114 yards and one TD. Borup added 109 yards and a TD on 21 carries for the Wolves, who graduated all but one offensive starter from last year’s state semifinal team.

For the Vikings, the victory capped an arduous non-league slate that was filled with ups and downs.

Lake Stevens challenged itself with a slew of tough opponents and took some lumps, suffering a mistake-filled 26-16 season-opening loss to 3A fourth-ranked Garfield and the blowout defeat to West Linn.

But the Vikings also earned a pair of impressive victories over state-ranked teams, beating 3A fifth-ranked Bellevue 37-28 in Week 2 and then rolling past Eastlake on Friday.

“That loss to West Linn was a little bit of an eye-opener to us,” Tri said. “And I thought our kids responded really well. Over the (past) two weeks, we’ve been working hard and we’ve been really physical at practice. And I thought it kind of showed tonight.”

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