Lake was the underdog at Eastlake in the State 4A football quarterfinals according to almost all the prognosticators but instead it was the Vikings who dominated from start to finish in Sammamish last Saturday night, laying a 50-21 smashdown on the Wolves.
The win earned Lake (12-0) a Tacoma Dome berth in Saturday’s semi-finals vs. Skyview of Vancouver.
Lake’s superior focus and toughness shocked the third-ranked Wolves (10-2) from the outset.
Viking defensive end Devin Guy set the tone on the game’s second play from scrimmage when he sacked Eastlake quarterback Keegan Kemp for a nine-yard loss on an attempted double-reverse pass. Guy was later to be named as the game’s outstanding player by KRKO radio.
Guy’s sack forced Eastlake to set up in punt formation and when the center snap sailed wildly high over the kicker’s head and through the end zone for a safety Lake led by 2-0 at 9:45 of the first quarter.
Shae Giddens returned the subsequent free kick 22 yards to the Viking 40 and QB Jake Nelson went to work from there, tossing 10 yards to Quincy Carroll followed by Nelson’s eight-yard gain, his 39-yard completion to Brady Pahukoa deep right, and Nelson’s three-yard TD rush. Tanner Sellars’ PAT kick made it 9-0 at 8:16 of the first.
Eastlake retaliated with Bryan Cassill’s 56-yard kickoff return to the Viking 37, setting up a six-play scoring drive featuring a pair of Kemp completions for 14 and 11 yards and his four-yard option TD run. John Kilburg’s PAT made it 9-7 at 6:04 of the first.
Lake answered with a six-play 80-yard scoring drive highlighted by Nelson’s four-for-four passing, good for 10 and five yards to Pahukoa then 14 and 37 yards to Christian Gasca, the latter absolutely wide open and unguarded deep on the right side. 16-7 Lake at 3:15 of the first.
Lake’s pooch kickoff was fumbled by Eastlake and recovered by Juan Delgado on the Wolf 41, and seven plays later Lake was in the end zone again.
Four Nelson completions in five attempts, plus a 12-yard Giddens run, sealed the deal, with Carroll hauling in a seven-yard pass for the score. 23-7 Lake, 48 seconds left in the first.
Lake’s next short kickoff was returned to the Viking 43, from where the Wolves mounted a threat when Kemp completed a 14-yard pass to Cameron Nelson for a first down on the 22. But Lake stood firm, with linebackers Andrew Elgaen and Korey Young holding Kemp to a one-yard gain on fourth-and-two, Lake taking possession on its own 13.
Lake then rubbed salt in the wounds, gaining a first down on Giddens’ 11-yard run and another on a nine-yard Nelson run and a short completion to Gasca. Nelson next executed another of his scintillating scrambles, making great cuts and taking advantage of some excellent downfield blocking, gaining 62 yards to the one. Giddens was stopped short on his first two plunges up the middle but on the third try he scored, for a 30-7 Viking lead at 7:23 of the second quarter.
Eastlake again fumbled away Lake’s kickoff, with Blake Sander recovering for the Vikings on the Wolf 28.
Nelson passed to Gasca for an eight-yard gain but was sacked by John Armour for a 12-yard loss on second down. Not to worry -- on the next play Nelson connected with Gasca for a 32-yard touchdown pass deep right (a play which is becoming wonderfully routine). Sellars’ PAT was blocked. 36-7, 5:48 left in the second.
Following a pair of penalties on the kickoff return the Wolves took possession on their own three.
Five Kemp completions combined with a pass interference plus a late hit penalty against Lake nearly netted Eastlake a score just before halftime. But Lake’s defense once again stepped up to halt the Wolves after they gained a first and goal on the 10. On fourth-and-two Anthony Blackie harried Kemp into a bad toss which fell incomplete. With 40 seconds left in the half Lake’s domination was complete.
What to do with a 36-7 lead and two quarters left to play against a still potentially dangerous foe?
Lake chose to play cautiously and fairly conservatively for much of the second half, letting its defense continue to frustrate the Wolves. Lake didn’t gain a single first down in the third quarter but held Eastlake to just two.
Desperate to get his team’s offense into gear, Kemp completed four straight short passes at the outset of the half, but after that, forced to rush his passes to well-defended receivers, he misfired on 10 of 11. Kemp’s one completion in that span, a 16-yard gain to star running back Ryan Lewis, resulted in a turnover. Sander laid a ferocious hit on Lewis, popping the ball loose where it lay inches from the sideline before Delgado fell on it for Lake on the Eastlake 35.
Two plays later Nelson’s overthrown pass was picked off by Aaron Jo for a touchback.
The teams exchanged punts with Eastlake taking possession on its own 47 where Kemp broke free for a 53-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. 36-14, with 11:50 left in the game.
Lake quashed that mini-rally by scoring immediately. After recovering Eastlake’s onside kick attempt on the Wolf 48 Nelson passed three yards to Carroll, 30 yards to Pahukoa, then unleashed Gasca for a 15-yard reverse for a Touchdown (Gasca’s 25th TD of the season so far but his first via the rush). 43-14, with 10:29 left.
Eastlake then drove to the Viking 28 where Kemp’s pass was broken up by Gasca with 6:30 left.
Nelson’s third interception of the half (he previously had only five interceptions for the entire season) set up Eastlake’s final score, a 27-yard scoot by Lewis. 43-21, with 5:04 left.
Lake, in running out the clock mode, surprised Eastlake with Nelson’s 16-yard pass to Pahukoa for a first down on the Wolf 43. A pair of personal fouls on Eastlake advanced Lake to a first down on the 12, where Giddens, after a two-yard gain, had the ball knocked out of his grasp but it was snared in mid-air by tight end Ryan Simoneaux who carried it the remaining 10 yards to score his first Viking TD ever. 50-21, 41 seconds before the final gun.
Lake, which outgained Eastlake by 296 yards to 107 in the first half, finished with an overall 402-285 advantage, and 18 first downs to Eastlake’s 14.
Nelson, after a 13-for-14 first half for 185 yards, ended with 19 of 26 (with three interceptions) for 255 yards. Kemp went 10 of 19 (no interceptions) for 135 yards.
Pahukoa and Gasca each caught seven passes, for 113 and 112 yards respectively.
Nelson netted 75 yards rushing in 10 carries, while Lewis was held to 78 net in 15 carries and Kemp 94 yards in 11 carries.
Eastlake was penalized seven times for 63 yards, Lake four times for 40.
Leading Lake in tackles was Elgaen with 14, followed by Young 10, Delgado 9, Paul Labreche 8, Pahukoa 7, Blackie 6. Guy’s five tackles included a sack and one play in which he tossed aside two Eastlake blockers to make a key tackle.
Lake’s matchup with Skyview (Vancouver) in the Tacoma Dome could be a classic. Lake averages 41 points a game this season, Skyview 44 points. But then Eastlake had held its opponents to 12 points a game before Lake came along.