In a solid all-around performance Lake Stevens beat Monroe 42-15 at last Friday’s Viking homecoming.
Fireworks, pageantry, the “running of the great chicken” and a blowout Viking victory, in which the home team dominated in virtually every phase of the game. Sure, it rained, but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits nor did it appear to slow down the game much if at all.
The win for Lake (2-1 in league, 5-1 overall) didn’t change the fact that it still must beat Marysville this Friday in order to secure second place in Wesco North.
Monroe (2-1 and 2-4) must win another league game in order to figure into the Playoffs equation. Arlington has virtually wrapped up the title.
As the season has progressed, Lake has placed more and more emphasis on its running game (its passing game is a “given” barring further injuries—deep threat Quincy Carroll sat out the Monroe game with a leg strain), and in stopping the opponent’s rushing attack.
Mission accomplished vs. Monroe, against whom Lake netted 266 yards on the ground to just 12 for the Bearcats. Duke Dolphin had a field day, netting 182 rushing yards in 23 carries including four touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 58 yards.
Jake Nelson completed 67 percent of his passes (16 of 24, with two interceptions), mostly of the shorter, ball-control variety, for 128 yards and a three-yard scoring strike to Brandon Preslar (one of six catches for Preslar, who leads the league in receptions with 37).
As usual, Lake started somewhat slowly, though on its first possession it nearly hit pay dirt. Nelson’s 16-yard pass to Dolphin was followed by runs by the latter of 27 and six yards. But a potential Nelson to Christian Gasca 18-yard touchdown pass was ruled out of bounds (a controversial call) and that drive ended on the Bearcat 21.
Brandon Belcher rectified that on the next play when he recovered a Monroe fumble on the latter’s 22. Lake scored in two plays, a 19-yard Nelson to Belcher pass and a Nelson to Preslar three-yard TD. Shawn Morgan added the first of his six-for-six PAT conversions. 7-0, Lake, 7:10 left in the first quarter.
Dolphin scored his first touchdown seven seconds into the second quarter, in which he literally ran over several Monroe defenders for a 16-yard TD. 14-0.
Lake’s third touchdown followed Preslar’s interception of Monroe QB Joey Roppo, returning the ball 27 yards to the Bearcat 43.
Four short Nelson completions (in four attempts) led to Dolphin’s 13-yard touchdown 3:07 before halftime. 21-0.
Monroe got a gift touchdown after the Vikings held on downs, forcing a punt, only to have the ball glance off Belcher’s hands with Monroe recovering on the Viking eight. Two plays later Jordan Moore scored from the eight. Roppo’s PAT kick made it 21-7 with 1:07 left in the half.
The Bearcats nearly cashed in on a second gift just before halftime when Austin Mulholland picked off a Nelson pass, returning it 51 yards to the Viking nine with 46 seconds left.
But Monroe mismanaged the clock, opting for three rushing plays by Moore which netted three, one, and minus one yards (tacklers on the latter play were Korey Young, Cody Tupen and Gunnar Eklund) and time ran out before it could launch another play.
Lake went ahead 28-7 with 1:11 left in the third quarter on Nelson’s scrambling seven-yard run (untouched). That culminated a nine-play, 68-yard drive keyed by a Dolphin 15-yard run and a Nelson to Dolphin 23-yard pass.
That was set up by a 15-yard sack of Roppo, co-shared by Young and Josh Berg.
It became 35-7 at 10:48 of the fourth quarter after Belcher returned another Monroe punt (forced by Juan Delgado’s nailing the Bearcat ball carrier for a 13-yard loss on a double reverse) for 15 yards to the Monroe 35. Two plays later Dolphin, with a nice block by Gasca, took a direct snap and breezed to a 33-yard TD.
Monroe then went on its one long march of the game, 69 yards in 12 plays not including three penalties which stretched the yardage gained by Roppo completions during the drive to 94 yards, the final strike a 13-yarder to Miguel Floresca-Cravens. Monroe bobbled the PAT kick try but Floresca-Cravens picked up the ball and heaved it to Mulholland for a two-point conversion. 35-15, with 7:29 to go.
Lake completed the game scoring with an eight-play 64-yard drive, all on the ground, with Dolphin scoring from the two. 42-15, with 2:35 left.
Shae Giddens, who had gained 41 yards in four carries in Lake’s final TD drive, intercepted a Roppo pass on Monroe’s next play of the game.
Lake won the turnover battle, three giveaways to Monroe’s five. Lake’s takeaways included interceptions by Preslar, Giddens and Anthony Blackie, plus fumble recoveries by Belcher and Young.
Roppo was harrassed all night, surrendering sacks to Belcher, Young, Berg, and Spencer Smith. The Monroe QB completed seven of 22 passes for 131 yards.
Lake had 19 first downs to Monroe’s 8.
Leading tackler (once again) for Lake was Young with 16. Belcher had 10, Delgado and Tupen 8 each and Berg 6.