In a season-opening non-league battle between teams favored to win their respective Wesco divisions Glacier Peak edged out homestanding Lake Stevens 24-20 last Friday night.
A packed house under a warm, dry sky witnessed a lively but ragged tilt featuring several untested, talented newcomers on both teams.
Frustration and disappointment abounded in the Viking locker room after the loss, as Lake had dominated the statistics (459 total yards to 303 and 25 first downs to 15) but failed to take advantage of some key opportunities, especially in the second half.
Mistakes plagued both teams, each surrendering three turnovers, with the deciding edge coming from the kicking game, where Lake missed two 33-yard field goals and a PAT kick, whereas GP’s Spencer Pettit earned “player of the game” honors by rocketing five kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, nailing a 52-yard field goal (longest ever versus the Vikings?), going three for three on his PATs, launching a 60-yard punt, and saving the game for his team late in the fourth quarter by tracking down an errant center snap deep in Grizzly territory to get off a punt that kept Lake out of quick scoring range.
Similar to last year’s 42-31 loss to GP, Lake fell behind early by multiple touchdowns. It was 14-0 Grizzlies after one quarter. GP’s first score followed Neil Druliner’s interception of Jacob Eason’s pass on the GP 49-yard line. Three plays later Branson Corwin’s 15-yard pass to Trey Chambers, who made a nice catch in double coverage, put GP on the board. 7-0 at 6:28.
GP made it 14-0 at 1:18 of the quarter on a seven-play, 86-yard drive featuring three completions by Corwin including a 52-yarder to Kalanoa Wong and a nine-yard scoring toss to Chambers who made a fingertips grab.
Lake responded with an 80-yard, seven-play drive with Eason completing two short passes, Austin Otis running for 22 yards in three carries, and Gavin O’Neil’s nifty 41-yard touchdown on a reverse with fancy footwork and a final downfield block by Tevin Gray. Ignacio Ponce’s PAT kick cut the gap to 14-7 at 11:45 of the second quarter.
GP followed with a 33-yard drive to the LS 38 where on fourth down Viking linebacker CJ Lat, along with Evan Miksch, sacked Corwin for a 15-yard loss.
On the next play Eason found a wide-open Gray for a 47-yard game-tying TD, 9:39 before halftime.
Hunter Eckstrom’s fumble recovery on the GP 49 at 7:53 started a seven-play drive for Lake which ended on downs on the GP 22. This was one of several lost Viking scoring chances throughout the game.
GP retook the lead at 21-14 on Justin Guffey’s 43-yard TD return of an intercepted Eason pass with 2:03 left in the half.
The third quarter saw Lake control the ball for the majority of the time deep in GP territory, yet fail to score.
Lake took the kickoff and drove to the GP 11 in 13 plays, including four completions by Eason, but after his pass to Riley Krenz in the end zone barely missed, Ponce (who made five of his six field goal attempts last season) set up for a 33-yarder which, following a high snap, missed to the right at 5:21.
But Lake got another chance three plays later when O’Neil picked off a Corwin pass and returned it 16 yards to the GP 11. Otis was held to no gain, O’Neil’s reverse lost four yards, and Eason’s pass was incomplete, sending out Ponce for another 33-yard field goal, which looked good from the stands but was ruled again wide right. Perhaps the extreme angle (he kicked both from the left hash mark) contributed to the misses.
With 3:04 left in the third quarter the game was starting to look eerily similar to last season’s 9-7 loss to Monroe, a game in which Lake dominated the stats but suffered through a series of mental and physical errors and quirky mishaps.
In the early minutes of the fourth quarter Lake managed to penetrate as far as the GP 39 before running out of downs.
Lake took just four plays to go 80 yards to make it 24-20 with 4:57 left. Eason hit Otis for a 32-yard gain, Otis carried for 16 yards, and following a personal foul against the Grizzlies Otis scooted for a 17-yard TD. But Lake was signaled for a 5-yard penalty on the PAT try and on its second attempt Ponce’s kick was blocked by Justin Guffey.
Following Lake’s unsuccessful onside kick GP attempted to use up the clock via running back Matthew Darling, a tactic good for one first down before Lake was finally able to force a punt.
The snap sailed over Pettit’s head to about the GP 25 before he was able to run it down & barely get off the punt which skied very high before bouncing around and managing to net eight yards to the Viking 39 where Lake took over with 55 seconds left.
Eason misfired on two passes then completed a 13-yarder to Eckstrom. Another incompletion and a bad snap which resulted in a sack left Lake with one final play, a 13-yard completion to Brandon Otis which ended the game as he was tackled on the GP 42.
Eason, distributing the ball well to various receivers, finished 25-50-3 for 306 yards and a TD. Corwin was 10-29-2 for 152 yards and 2 TDs.
Austin Otis rushed for 119 yards in 18 carries, with a TD. Darling rushed for 116 yards in 23 carries.
Lat recorded an outstanding 22 tackles for the game, including two sacks (the senior is on pace to surpass his 2012 total of 112 tackles). Krenz, a sophomore, had 11 tackles (his brother Tanner, a senior who had been counted on to contribute heavily both on offense and defense to this year’s team, is apparently out for the season with a back injury).
Lake is at Marysville-Pilchuck this Friday. The Toms, favorites to again win Wesco 3A North and to advance for a second straight year deep into the playoffs, will be looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Vikings.