Tyler Reside’s parents were part of a solemn pregame ceremony at Lake last Friday night, honoring the tragically fallen Viking of last year’s team.
With Viking players wearing Reside’s number 25 on their helmets, they sought to win this crucial Wesco North contest (which surely would decide this year’s league champion) for him.
It didn’t turn out Lake’s way. Six Viking turnovers (a ruinous five of them in the second half) stifled many Lake Stevens opportunities and handed Arlington too many chances. The Eagles proved that they are for real, taking advantage of Lake’s miscues and turning them into big plays en route to a 36-28 win.
The loss diminished an impressive game for Viking Duke Dolphin, who accounted for 214 yards (119 net in 11 rushes and 95 more on five receptions). But his late-game fumble was one of the factors in Lake’s downfall.
Quarterback Jake Nelson at one point was 13 for 14 (with one interception) but after that was just one of six (with two more interceptions). A Viking penalty negated a key pass completion late in the game when Lake was driving for a potential tie. And Nelson also fumbled late. But his accuracy and his running ability kept Lake alive much of the night. He finished with 190 yards passing, barely missing out on a fifth consecutive 200-yard game.
Linebacker Korey Young, who has led Lake in tackles in all five of its games this season, had 16 in that department. He keyed a defense which held Arlington’s outstanding running back Riley Cobb, to 58 net yards in 19 carries. One of Lake’s goals coming into the game was to limit Cobb’s normal 150 yards per game production.
The Vikings were not as successful in handling Eagle quarterback Blake McPherson, who completed 13 of 22 passes (with one interception) for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Two other Eagles completed passes during the game for an additional 38 yards and another touchdown. McPherson frequently eluded would-be Viking tacklers in the backfield, buying time for many key completions, including some acrobatic catches by his skilled receivers.
Arlington squandered the game’s first scoring opportunity when, after driving to the Viking five in the opening possession, Lake’s Quincy Carroll intercepted a McPherson pass in the end zone, returning it to the Eagle four. The Arlington threat had been set up by Max Bryson’s 30-yard completion to Connor Cummings on a fake fourth down punt.
Lake returned the favor when on its own opening drive Nelson was intercepted by Arlington’s Skylor Elgarito who returned the ball 46 yards to the Viking nine. Three plays later Cobb scored from the three. Colton Hordyk added the PAT kick. 7-0 Eagles, with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
Lake retaliated with an 11-play, 80-yard drive featuring a 23-yard Dolphin run and a 24-yard Nelson to Dolphin completion, culminated by Dolphin’s four-yard touchdown run (great blocking via the left side of Lake’s offensive line). Shawn Morgan’s PAT knotted the score at 7-7, with 7:39 left in the half.
Arlington re-took the lead on an eight-play, 60-yard drive largely thanks to a 43-yard McPherson to Griffin Ginnis pass. The same pair teamed up for a five-yard touchdown pass. 14-7 Eagles, 3:52 shy of halftime.
Lake staged a miraculous “beat the clock” rally as the half expired. An Arlington punt bounced out of bounds on the Eagle 40 with five seconds left. Time enough for Nelson’s “Hail Mary” to Christian Gasca, who beat the coverage deep left for a dazzling touchdown with no time left. Morgan’s PAT sailed barely wide, but Lake had edged to within 14-13.
Lake pounced on the Eagles immediately after halftime to seize the lead. Brandon Belcher’s 64-yard kickoff return (Lake’s longest of the season so far) put Lake in business on the Eagle 35. Nelson tossed to Carroll for 25 yards, and three plays later laid a three-yard touchdown pass into the arms of Brandon Preslar. Nelson scrambled for a two-point conversion to give Lake a 21-14 lead with 10:01 to go in the third quarter.
Momentum Lake Stevens? Nope. On Arlington’s first play after the kickoff McPherson hit an absolutely wide-open Bo Brummel for a 58-yard touchdown. Hordyk’s PAT tied it at 21-21.
After that came the five turnovers which doomed Lake.
Gasca caught an 8-yard Nelson pass but fumbled it away on the Arlington three.
Three plays prior to that Dolphin had turned a screen pass from Nelson into a 51-yard gain.
Lake caught a break shortly after that when a 77-yard McPherson touchdown pass to Hordyk was negated by a holding penalty, and Lake was able to force a punt.
But another potential Viking touchdown was turned into an Eagle touchdown when, on the final play of the third quarter, a Nelson pass was intercepted by Hordyk and returned 90 yards for a pick-six. Hordyk eluded at least half a dozen Viking tacklers along the way—a trend that was to continue as the second half wore on. Lake was tough at the line of scrimmage but tackled poorly beyond it in many instances. Hordyk’s theft (one of the longest interception returns against Lake in its history) gave Arlington a 27-21 lead but (perhaps winded?) he missed the PAT.
On its first play after the kickoff Nelson fumbled on the Viking 39.
A 31-yard shovel pass from McPherson to Brummel paved the way for Elgarito’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Ginnis (Elgarito briefly replaced McPherson). Elgarito’s pass for the two-point conversion was complete to Brummel but the latter was tackled short of the end zone by Young and Bryson Daggett. 33-21 Eagles, with 10:27 left in the game.
Dolphin cruised to a 45-yard touchdown on Lake’s first play after the kickoff, and Morgan’s PAT cut the gap to 33-28, just 10 seconds after Arlington had scored.
Arlington pulled off a game turning point when on fourth and one on its own 43.
Brummel made a great leaping catch in traffic for a 16-yard gain to the Viking 41. Cobb gained 11, then 12 yards to the Viking 18, but he was stopped for a net two yard loss on the next two plays (on tackles by Young and by Cody Tupen), setting up Hordyk’s 37-yard field goal. 36-28, with 6:26 left.
Lake was driving for a potential tying score when Nelson’s 21-yard pass to Gasca which would have given the Vikings a first down on the Arlington 31 instead was rubbed out by a holding penalty which took the ball all the way back to the LS 31.
Two plays after that, Nelson was intercepted by Brummel on the Eagle 48 with 3:19 left.
Viking defense stepped up to nab Cobb with losses of seven and six yards (tackles by Shea Giddens, Juan Delgado, Gasca, Young and Daggett), and after a pass interference against Lake put the ball on the 50, Gunnar Eklund fell on an Eagle fumble caused by a bad center snap, on the Arlington 37.
On the next play Dolphin gained nine yards but, in a pileup along the Arlington sideline, he was stripped of the ball with Arlington recovering. Dolphin said later that he thought he may have been down before fumbling, but the ruling went Arlington’s way.
There was 2:16 left at that point but Lake never got the ball again. With less than a minute left the Eagles converted a third and two on Cobb’s two-yard run. Cobb fumbled on the play with Young recovering for Lake but Cobb’s forward progress was ruled to have been stopped before the fumble. Another close call that went Arlington’s way, cinching the victory for the visitors.
The win all but wrapped up the Wesco North title for the Eagles, who are 2-0 in league play (4-1 overall). The Eagles have now beaten their two main rivals for the title, Marysville and Lake. Lake (1-1 in league, 4-1 overall) must defeat Marysville later in the season if it is to secure the number two spot in the Playoffs.