Not only was it not the blowout which many expected, Lake made a competitive game of it at Curtis (University Place) in the State Playoffs on Friday. The hometown Vikings (10-0 and second in the state 4A rankings) prevailed over the visiting Vikings by 31-14, to advance to the round of sixteen in the tournament, ending Lake’s season at 7-3.
Lake needed to play a perfect game to have any shot at upsetting Curtis (averaging 46 points a game coming in) and that did not happen, but aside from a handful of key plays which went against them, our Vikings gave their Vikings all they could handle for much of the game.
It started well for Lake, when Brandon Belcher recovered a fumbled Curtis pass reception on the Viking 30.
Duke Dolphin’s 12-yard run gave Lake a first down on its own 44, but three straight Jake Nelson pass incompletions (Lake dropped a few passes in the steady rain which didn’t let up during the game).
Curtis quarterback Tyler Jamison connected with C.J. Langlow for a 33-yard completion to the Viking 41, and on fourth-and-three Jamison tossed to Rahmel Dockery for a 10-yard gain and a first down on the LS 24. Dockery, a Division One talent, showed off his spinning moves throughout the first half (though Lake did a fairly good job of containing him for much of the game).
Consecutive rushes of nine, six, and seven yards by Tyler Montague, the latter for a touchdown, gave Curtis a 7-0 lead with 5:18 left in the opening quarter.
Another 12-yard run by Dolphin gained Lake its only first down of its second possession, which ended with a shanked 12-yard punt (attempting to keep the ball out of Dockery’s hands) which gave Curtis the ball at the LS 48.
Jamison’s 23-yard run gave Curtis first down on Lake’s 20 but four plays later Taylor Metzger slammed Jamison to the turf for a six-yard loss back to the 11, setting up Scott Shagren’s 30-yard field goal near the end of the quarter to make it 10-0.
Lake’s opponents were successful on all seven of their field goal tries this season (Lake did not attempt a field goal this year).
Lake threatened to score on its next possession, keyed by a 10-yard Dolphin run and Nelson’s 33-yard strike to Quincy Carroll which, combined with a 15-yard personal foul against Curtis on the play, gave Lake a first down on the Curtis 24.
But that drive ended on a freak play when a Nelson pass was tipped by a Curtis defender and Nelson himself caught it, but for a 13-yard loss. That’s right: a Nelson to Nelson pass for minus 13 yards.
Two major penalties thwarted a subsequent Curtis drive, resulting in a punt and Lake taking over on its own 21. Nelson’s 33-yard run (nice block by Gunnar Eklund) was followed by Nelson’s 41-yard pass to Christian Gasca to the Curtis one, and Nelson carried into the end zone on the next play. Shawn Morgan’s PAT try was missed after the ball wasn’t squarely set at his foot, leaving the score at 10-6, with 4:27 left in the half.
Lake seemed poised to regain possession with a chance to take the lead when, after holding Curtis to fourth and four on its own 43, Dockery set up to punt but instead ran for a 42-yard gain to the LS 15. It was a move that seemed to surprise nobody in the stadium except Lake’s defense. Montague scored on the next play, boosting Curtis to a 17-6 lead 1:21 before halftime.
Lake avoided disaster when it fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, but Dolphin intercepted Jamison on the next play, at the LS 11.
Lake gained 22 yards on four rushing plays to open the second half but saw its chances to mount a scoring drive foiled when Cornelius Edison sniffed out a Brandon Preslar reverse and brought him down for a 13-yard loss.
That set up a 92-yard, 10-play Curtis touchdown drive in which Jamison went three for three including 38 and 12 yards to Dockery. Montague scored from the one to make it 24-6 with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
But Lake refused to die. Three major penalties against Curtis figured in a 64-yard, 10-play LS drive that saw the two longest gains cover just seven yards each (by Dolphin and Nelson). Dolphin scored on fourth down from the two, bulling his way through the middle of an Army of Curtis defenders. Dolphin then received Nelson’s two-point conversion pass to make it 24-14, with 10:26 left in the game.
That “ray of hope” nearly became a rainbow just two plays later when Kevin Lanto nearly intercepted a Jamison pass which would have given Lake possession deep in Curtis territory. But the ball bounced off Lanto’s chest for an incompletion. and eight plays later Montague broke a 39-yard touchdown run, giving Curtis a 31-14 lead with 7:10 left -- effectively ending Lake’s chances.
Even with the game out of reach Lake didn’t surrender. Chandler Ireland recovered a Curtis fumble on the LS three yard line with 44 seconds left, time enough for Nelson to rush for 12 yards, then complete passes of 12 yards to Gasca, 37 yards to Dolphin, and 16 yards to Preslar as time ran out with Lake on the Curtis 16.
That final reception by Preslar gave him a school record 95 for his career at Lake, besting the previous record of 78 by Mike Holguin in 1981-82. Preslar’s 95 catches gained 1058 yards and included seven touchdowns.
Curtis’ net yardage was 448 to Lake’s 275. Nelson was 12 for 24 (with no interceptions) for 141 yards, while Jamison was 12 for 17 (with one interception) for 157 yards.
Dolphin netted 79 yards in 19 carries to push his season rushing yardage total to 959 (had he not missed Lake’s season opening game vs. Cascade he almost certainly would have surpassed the 1000-yard mark for the year). Dolphin’s eight points scored against Curtis gave him 102 points for the season.
Nelson rushed for 62 yards net in 10 carries. Montague netted 172 yards in 23 carries.
Lake had 16 first downs, Curtis 20.
Ireland led Lake in tackles with 13, followed by Gasca’s 12, with Belcher, Gunnar Eklund and Daniaka Tews each notching nine.