EVERETT — For most of three quarters, Everett gave Meadowdale all it could handle in a Western Conference 3A football battle at Everett Memorial Stadium.
A good thing for the Mavericks there’s a fourth quarter.
Trailing 14-0 and with its unbeaten season hanging in the balance, Meadowdale pushed across a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and then added another touchdown and a field goal in the final period for an exciting 17-14 comeback victory over the Seagulls on Thursday night.
The winning points came with six seconds to play as Meadowdale place-kicker Sam Werner booted an 18-yard field goal.
With two seconds on the clock, Everett had time for a kickoff return with multiple laterals, but the game-ending tackle was made near midfield.
The victory gave the 9-0 Mavericks sole possession of first place in the Wesco 3A at 4-0 and, more importantly, the school’s first undefeated regular season since 1973.
“It’s real special,” said Meadowdale head coach Mark Stewart. “We’ve had a lot of good teams the last four or five years, and we’ve been in the playoffs. It’s nice to have a group (this season) that learned from all those other groups, and really kind of put it together. They were able to fight through some adversity and win some big games.”
And Meadowdale won some nail-biters, too. The Mavericks went to overtime against Glacier Peak and Mount Vernon, and on Thursday they were in real trouble against Everett.
What saved Meadowdale was an offense that finally came to life. After being shut out well into the third quarter, the Mavericks started a possession from their own 35-yard line and needed just four plays to reach the end zone. Quarterback Danny McDonald completed passes of 32 and 15 yards, and running back Naji Moore-Taylor carried up the middle for gains of 7 and 11 yards, the latter for a touchdown.
Meadowdale’s defense then forced an Everett punt and the Mavericks began another successful march, this one traveling 78 yards in six plays. The final 38 yards came on a pass from McDonald to Werner, a receiver, who spun away from three defenders and won a footrace to the corner of the end zone.
Six minutes remained and the Meadowdale defense again made Everett punt. This time the Mavericks had to go 72 yards, though the drive only covered 71 yards. With six seconds to play in the game, Moore-Taylor was stopped inside the 1-yard line and Meadowdale took its final timeout.
Stewart opted for a field goal, and Werner’s kick was true for the go-ahead points.
Meadowdale’s late-game rally was due to “the playmakers we have on our team,” Stewart said. “We just have to keep getting the ball to those playmakers. If they make a play, they’ll give us a spark.
“That’s part of our makeup, part of what this team is all about. We can grind it out a little bit, but the reason we’re 9-0 is that we have guys who can make plays.”
Everett got a big game from quarterback Chase Herrick, who had touchdown runs of 1 and 17 yards in the first half to give the Seagulls a 14-0 lead at halftime. Everett had two possessions into Meadowdale territory in the second half, but one ended on downs and the other with a punt.
Everett’s defense was impressive in the first half. All four of the Mavericks’ first-half offensive possessions ended on downs at Everett’s end of the field. The Seagulls stopped Meadowdale on fourth downs at their 30, 12, 14 and 27.
“I thought we battled,” Everett head coach Will Soren said. “Obviously (the Mavericks) are a great team, but our kids played hard. I’m proud of that effort, and now we need to carry that over to next week against whoever we’re playing (in the postseason). If we do, I think we can do a few things.”
The game was delayed in the final seconds when Everett defensive lineman Malaki Seanoa apparently suffered a neck or high chest injury and stayed on the turf for several minutes. He eventually left the field strapped to a stretcher, but he was able to raise his arm to the fans, drawing cheers.
“He had some movement, but they were still going to go take a look at things,” Soren said. “And he seemed to be in good spirits. The last thing he said was have the kids play hard.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Everett — Herrick 1 run (Barhanovich kick)
Everett — Herrick 17 run (Barhanovich kick)
Meadowdale — Moore-Taylor 11 run (Werner kick)
Meadowdale — Werner 38 pass from McDonald (Werner kick)
Meadowdale — Werner 18 field goal.
Records — Meadowdale is 4-0 in league, 9-0 overall. Everett is 2-2, 4-5.