Touchdowns were flying around wildly in the first half of Lake Stevens’ Homecoming 56-39 win over Arlington last Friday.
A packed house saw a neck-craning first two quarters in which Lake tallied six touchdowns and Arlington five for a 42-32 halftime lead for the Vikings, during which Lake netted 362 yards and Arlington 332.
The second half was a much different affair as the Viking defense finally stood firm, holding the Eagles to just three first downs, 89 net yards, and zero offensive touchdowns.
Lake’s offense also decreased in the second half but was good enough for 169 yards and a pair of TDs, for a 56-39 win that thrust Lake back into the Wesco North title chase at 2-1 (3-3 overall), tied with Arlington and a shade ahead of Mt. Vernon.
It’s looking very much like those three teams will share the title at 3-1 when the regular season is finished two weeks hence, necessitating some sort of tie-breaker procedure at that point to determine who will meet Edmonds-Woodway for the overall Wesco 4A championship (stay tuned).
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason looked like a sure bet to break a Viking all-time single-game record, registering 296 yards (completing 14 of 18 passes, with no interceptions) in the first half. Nick Baker set the record of 395 yards against Snohomish five years ago.
At the end of three quarters Eason had piled up 388 passing yards, but Lake, opting to grind out the clock in the fourth quarter, stayed mainly on the ground and the one pass (in four attempts) Eason completed in the final quarter actually netted a loss of eight yards, making his final total 380 yards on 19 of 31 passes and no interceptions, with four TDs.
After that track meet of a first half it was the Viking defense which settled down to secure the all-important Viking victory. Arlington was greatly hampered by the loss of Jared Alskog, forced by injury to leave the game early in the second quarter. Alskog had racked up 110 yards in just six carries in the first quarter, including a 77-yard run which set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. In the second half without Alskog the Arlington offense seemed confused and hesitant, using up valuable time trying to figure out what plays to run.
Somewhat overlooked in Lake’s offensive outpouring was Viking senior lineman Evan Miksch, who sacked Eagle quarterback Cam Scrimgeour three times, giving Miksch 18 sacks for his career. That broke the old record of 17 set by Matt Leonard (2001-2003).
Lake scored six touchdowns in its seven first half possessions.
Lake took the opening kickoff and went 73 yards in four plays, highlighted by Eason to Gavin O’Neil for 45 yards and Austin Otis’ 14-yard scoring run. Ignacio Ponce converted the first of his eight PATs.
Alskog broke his 77-yard run on Arlington’s first play from scrimmage, followed by Scrimgeour’s three-yard TD pass to Nate Lewis. Arlington faked the PAT try but Lewis’ attempt for a two-point run was swarmed over by Riley Krenz, assisted by Miksch, C.J. Lat, and Andrew Grimes.
Otis’ 38-yard kickoff return gave Lake possession at midfield and Lake scored again in just three plays from there (assisted by a 15-yard Eagle penalty), a drive including Eason’s 25-yard pass to Tevin Gray and a two-yard Otis TD run.
14-6 Lake, at 8:09 of the first quarter.
Viking defense forced three-and-out, with Lake taking over on the Eagle 46 following the punt.
This time it took Lake seven plays to score, the big one a 27-yard Eason to Otis pass, with Grimes completing the drive via a four-yard TD run. 21-6, at 3:44 of the first quarter.
Arlington responded with a seven-play, 76-yard drive thanks to Alskog runs of 13 and 11 yards and Srimgeour’s 50-yard TD pass to Max Gray when Viking defender Justin Brown fell down, leaving Gray undefended. Anthony Parra’s PAT cut Lake’s lead to 21-13 at 1:59 of the first quarter.
Lake then went 71 yards in five plays featuring four straight Eason completions: two yards to Otis, 23 yards to Krenz, 27 yards to Brown, and a 17-yard TD to Gray. That made it 28-13 with 19 seconds left in the quarter.
Next, Arlington went 65 yards in four plays, the big one a 52-yard pass to Gray, in which Brown nicked Gray’s heel, causing the latter to fall down on the one, from where Austin Basham scored on the next play. The PAT kick was wide left, leaving the score at 28-19 at 11:08 of the second quarter.
The Eagles then tricked Lake with an onside kick, recovering at the 50, and three plays later Arlington scored again, on a 49-yard Scrimgeour to George Spady screen pass. The PAT was another fake, and once again Lake snuffed it out with Jordan Kimmons, Lat, and Kolby Jones smothering Austin Wells’ run. 28-25 Lake, at 9:35 of the second quarter.
Lake then went three and out for the first and only time of the half, Arlington receiving the punt on its own 25.
But Lake returned the favor and took over on its own 49 following Grimes’ 12-yard punt return.
This time it took just one play for Lake to score, a 51-yard Eason pass to a wide-open O’Neil. 35-25, with 640 left in the half.
That left plenty of time for two more touchdowns before halftime. In fact it took just 14 seconds for Arlington’s Gray to run back the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. 35-32.
That was one of three major breakdowns by Viking special teams—a major blemish.
Lake upped the lead to 42-32 with 3:22 left in the half on a seven play, 79-yard drive spotlighted by Eason completions of 26 and 23 yards to Krenz and Gray and a seven-yard TD pass to Gray.
Arlington held the ball for the remaining 10 plays of the half but failed to score, thanks to a shared sack by Miksch and Ryder Fouts and a holding penalty against the Eagles, who were on the Viking 41 as time expired before the halftime Homecoming festivities.
In comparison to the first half, the final two quarters were somewhat sluggish offensively.
Though it didn’t begin that way, as Lake executed a 91-yard, eight play drive the first time it gained possession.
Eason completions of 37 and 27 yards to O’Neil and Brown were followed by Otis runs of 13 and 16 yards, the latter for a touchdown, making it 49-32 at 7:03 of the third.
The remainder of the quarter saw Lake halt two Eagle scoring threats.
The first one came via freshman Hunter Eckstroms’ pass interception on the Viking 24 at 6:52.
The second blunted an Eagle drive which had gained a first down on the Viking 14 when Ecksrom and Alex Verhoeven nailed Spady (Alskog’s replacement) for a two-yard loss on third down and on the next play Krenz intercepted Scrimgeour’s pass in the end zone, with seven seconds left in the quarter.
Lake’s offense turned somewhat conservative in the fourth quarter, mainly looking to use up the clock. This strategy backfired when a Ponce punt was shanked and actually rolled backwards for a six-yard loss at the Viking 41 where Basham scooped it up amid a host of perplexed Vikings and returned it for an Eagle touchdown. 49-39, with 6:20 dangerous minutes remaining.
Lake gained only one first down for the remainder of the game (an 18-yard Otis run to the Arlington 43 with four minutes left) but the Viking defense held down the fort to secure the win.
Ponce 36-yard punt was downed on the Eagle nine with 3:04 left. Miksch’s third sack of the game pushed Arlington back to its own six and on fourth down Brown broke up Scrimgeour’s pass and Lake took over on the six with 2:11 left.
Three Otis rushes later, the latter breezed into the end zone from four yards out, completing the game’s scoring at 56-39 with 1:05 left.
Otis finished with 137 yards in 27 carries, plus four TDs.
O’Neil’s three catches gained 133 yards, plus a TD.
O’Neil, Gray, Krenz and Brown combined for 354 yards on 15 receptions, plus three TDs.
Eason’s near-record passing performance reflected his best game yet. Poised and confident and accurate (and given plenty of time in most instances by his offensive line) this may have been a “coming of age” performance for the 6-4, 205 pound soph.
Lake outgained Arlington by 531 to 321 yards (this does NOT including the 137 yards Arlington covered in its two kick return TDs) and had 22 first downs to Arlington’s 12. Arlington was penalized eight times for 81 yards, Lake three times for 25 yards.
C.J. Lat led Lake in the tackling department for the sixth straight game. He had 14 tackles for 119 on the season. Micksh and Jones each had 10 tackles, Krenz and Gray nine each, and Fouts had eight including two sacks.
Lake can clinch a tie for the Wesco North title when it hosts Snohomish in two weeks. Lake plays at Stanwood in a non-league game this Friday.