LAKE STEVENS — For much of the past decade, the Lake Stevens High School football team’s home field has been a house of horrors for its opponents, especially in the regular season.
The Class 4A top-ranked Vikings entered Friday’s interstate showdown of defending big-school state champions against Oregon’s 6A West Linn with a 35-game win streak at home during the regular season that dated back to September of the 2014 season.
The 200-plus-mile trip and 10 a.m. departure for a 7 p.m. kickoff in front of packed and rowdy Lake Stevens crowd didn’t phase West Linn in the slightest.
The Lion offense piled up 491 yards, Lake Stevens committed five costly turnovers and the Vikings fell 49-30 to West Linn on Friday night.
“They’re a good team,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “We didn’t execute very well. Too many turnovers, too many blow coverages. We gave them some momentum early in the game.”
Three of Lake Stevens’ five turnovers occurred deep in their own territory and set up short West Linn touchdown drives of 22, 19 and 17 yards.
West Linn (4-0) also wasted little time in showing off its big-play ability.
Junior Danny Wideman returned the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Lake Stevens 48-yard line, and the Lions moved into scoring position on the next play after junior quarterback Baird Gilroy found big-bodied senior receiver Wiley Donnerberg for a 38-yard pass. Senior running back Ryan Vandenbrink went straight up the middle for a 10-yard TD run on the next play for a 7-0 lead just 29 seconds into the first quarter.
Lake Stevens (3-1) answered back at the 7:52 mark when junior quarterback Kolton Matson connected on a deep ball with senior receiver David Brown, who muscled through a tackle attempt after the catch to finish off a 36-yard scoring connection to tie it.
West Linn regained the lead and never relinquished it after Oregon-bound kicker Gage Hurych’s 36-yard field goal with 2:08 to go in the first. Then, a Lake Stevens fumble on the first play of the ensuing possession set up a short field, and the Lions took advantage with senior Cade Johnson’s 27-yard TD run for a 17-7 lead.
Both kickers showed off their power after with Lake Stevens sophomore Lucas Mooring drilling a 40-yard field goal to cut the Vikings’ deficit to 17-10, and Hurych responding with a 40-yarder of his own to go up 20-10 at the 7:35 mark of the second.
Lake Stevens marched down the field with the help of a 34-yard strike from Matson to junior Keagan Howard on the next possession, but the Vikings’ drive ended inside the red zone on a failed fourth-down attempt.
Three plays later, Gilroy linked up with Idaho-bound senior Gus Donnerberg, and the 6-foot-4, 210-pound tight end raced down the sideline for an 80-yard TD. West Linn added a two-point conversion to go up 28-10 with 3:57 until halftime.
“We can’t give those plays up,” Tri said. “We’ve been doing it for three, four weeks in a row. We’ve got to get our secondary fixed and find a way to get some pressure on the quarterback.”
An interception by Wiley Donnerberg on the first play of Lake Stevens’ next drive gave the Lions the ball inside the red zone, and Johnson finished off four straight carries with a 3-yard TD to put his team up 35-10 heading into halftime.
Brown’s interception on West Linn’s first drive of the second half set up a short field and 3-yard TD run from Matson as the Vikings cut their deficit to 35-17 and started to rally in the second half.
Lake Stevens then recovered an onside kick, drove down to the goal line and Matson found Brown for a 1-yard score to make it 35-24 with 5:32 left in the third.
The Viking defense appeared to get the stop it needed on the ensuing possession, but a fumble on a punt return gave West Linn the ball back inside the red zone. Gilroy punched in a 5-yard run three plays later to go up 42-24.
Brown found the end zone for a third time on a screen pass from Matson that went 25 yards as time expired in the third quarter, but that’s as close as Lake Stevens would get.
A 66-yard connection from Gilroy to junior Wyatt Smiley on third down set up 2-yard TD run from Johnson that made it 49-30 early in the fourth.
“It’s hard for high school kids to get on the bus and go five hours and play like this,” West Linn coach Jon Eagle said. “I’m very proud of our guys. This was a great challenge and we got better.”
Matson completed 22 of 44 passes for 279 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. Brown had a team-high 99 receiving yards to go with his three TD catches and recorded a pair of interceptions on defense. Steven Lee Jr. added 86 yards of offense on just four touches.
Gilroy connected on 15 of 30 passes for 336 yards, one TD and two interceptions. Gus Donnerberg averaged a whopping 35.5 yards with 142 yards on four receptions and added an interception on defense. Johnson and Vandenbrink combined for 153 yards and three TDs on 25 carries. The Lions had eight plays go for 20 or more yards and didn’t allow a sack.