The Eastlake Wolves defeated their rival Mount Si Wildcats 24-18 Friday night at Eastlake Stadium. Grady Robison torched the Wildcats on the ground and through the air, completing 11 of 27 passes for 202 yards. While it was not Eastlake’s best performance in the passing game, Robison did plenty of damage on the ground rushing for an additional 179 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
The Wolves improve to 4-1 on the year and 2-0 in conference, while the Wildcats fall to 3-2, 0-1.
The contest was close throughout. A week after a rout of Issaquah on the road, there was nothing easy about this one for the Wolves, whose largest lead was 14 points in the 2nd half. That lasted all of 36 seconds of game time.
The Wolves constantly had to overcome adversities, mostly self-inflicted wounds with an assortment of penalties and unforced mistakes, before eventually outlasting the resilient Wildcats. The Wildcats’ defensive line brought pressure up the middle all night, disrupting the EHS offense time and again. Robison’s scrambles and ability to run away from pressure was the difference in a hard-fought win.
The Wolves took a 14-10 halftime lead behind Robison’s first half touchdown runs. The first came on a 37-yard sprint on the Wolves’ opening drive. After breaking a tackle at the Wildcats’ 35 on a zone-read keeper, Robison dashed up the home sideline to the north end zone to put EHS up early 7-0.
Mt. Si countered with a 2nd quarter field goal after flipping the field on a coffin-corner punt to the EHS one-yard line. The Wolves could not muster a yard on their possession, and after a very short punt the Wildcats took over at the Eastlake 23-yard line. The Wolves defense, for the most part stout all evening, held Mount Si to a 32-yard field goal.
Eastlake answered with a long scoring drive of their own, starting at their own 14 following a penalty on the kickoff return. The Wolves then marched 10 plays and 86 yards to score, overcoming a holding penalty in their own territory, and later a fumble on first and goal. On the drive, Robison found Max Verboort for 47 yards on a deep ball up the sideline to set up 1st and goal on the Mount Si 2-yard line. After recovering the first down fumble back at the 7, Robison raced to the right corner of the end zone, crossing the goal line while plowing over Wildcat defenders at the pylon.
The Wildcats punched right back, scoring quickly after a short field set up by a kickoff return – and a personal foul by the Wolves on the kickoff – and started the possession at their own 46. After a 5-yard penalty of their own, Mount Si quarterback Clay Millen found receiver Colby Botten for 48 yards to the EHS 11 after narrowly avoiding the Eastlake pass rush. Millen sprinted up the middle for a touchdown on the next play as the Wildcats narrowed the margin to 14-10.
Eastlake squandered a chance to score again later in the 2nd quarter, electing to go for it on 4th and goal from the 6 and passing up a chance for a chip shot field goal. Rolling out to his right, Robison’s pass nearly found two different EHS receivers, but also nearly found two Mount Si defenders, before uneventfully falling to the ground in the back of the end zone. The Wolves would later have a chance at a Hail Mary on the last play of the half but that pass fell incomplete as well.
Despite a dominating third quarter where Eastlake allowed no yards and the Wildcats only ran three offensive plays, the Wolves just could not pull away. A field goal by Ryan Curran from 30 yards out was the only score of the period and put Eastlake up 17-10. The kick concluded a grind-it-out opening drive of 67 yards on 18 plays, and consumed the first 7:43 of the quarter.
The Wolves did as much as they could to stop themselves on the possession, committing two penalties and nearly stalling in Mount Si territory before Robison scrambled for 20 yards on a critical 3rd and 5 to sustain the drive.
Following the Curran field goal, Mount Si would give the Wolves the ball again quickly, as they went 3-and-out highlighted by a tackle for loss as safety Joey Grzetic beautifully diagnosed a wide receiver screen and threw Botten for a two yard loss.
The Wolves then went to work on their final scoring drive, a 21-play, 86-yard slog – at times ugly, at times beautiful, and entirely entertaining – which turned out to be the difference in the game.
Eastlake once again found themselves starting from their own 14 following yet another personal foul penalty, this time on the punt return. The drive had numerous big plays and heroes. Eastlake began to lean a little more on their running backs on the drive, as Jalen Bright relentlessly hammered Mount Si on runs between the tackles, and the Wolves managed to convert on 4th down three different times. The Wolves also converted a critical 3rd and 11 as Robison painted the corner with a fastball to the fully extended Cooper Williams in front of the EHS bench for 15 yards at the Mount Si 30.
The highlight of the drive however, and hard to argue this was anything less than the play of the night, was a gutsy call from Eastlake’s own 23 yard line on 4th and 1. That is not a misprint, the Wolves actually went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 23. With the lead. In a one score game. In the 2nd half.
This had #baddecisionFriday written all over it.
With 4 receivers split to the right, 1 to the left, Robison took the shotgun snap and faked a punt before breaking out the back door around the left end – and around the entire Wildcats’ defense – in route to a 16-yard gain and fresh downs. As enthusiastic EHS fan Erin Hoppe perfectly quipped “I’ll take your 1 yard and raise you 15 more!”
Eastlake eventually finished the drive on a bulldozing one-yard scoring plunge by Bright, but it was an adventure just getting down the field, the fake punt notwithstanding. After Williams’ catch, the Wolves went back to the run. Following two keepers by Robison, the Wolves went back to feeding the ball to Bright for consecutive runs to reach the red zone. On 3rd and 2 at Mount Si’s 22, Bright was hit in the backfield and thrown for a one-yard loss trying to run over the right side. Not to be deterred, the Wolves dialed up the same play on 4th and 3, this time getting plenty of surge up front, and Bright broke off 6 yards for a first down. Following two more runs by Bright, Robison was gang tackled for a loss on 3rd and 3 at the Mount Si 16 – but the Wildcats were flagged for a personal foul for hitting Robison after the whistle.
And the drive continued.
The Wolves then converted another 4th down, this time on a 5-yard plowing run by Bright on 4th and 1 from the 8 and culminated the drive two plays later with Bright’s touchdown. At 24-10 it felt like the Wolves were at least in control of the game with 6:50 left, but it was short lived.
Mount Si scored in two plays following the kickoff, the final 63 yards coming on a wild catch, not-tackle, and run of 63 yards by wide receiver Kevin Corder. Corder rolled over two would-be Eastlake tacklers, never touching down after a catch on a quick slant and sprinted to the end zone outracing the Eastlake defenders who were in pursuit after realizing the play never stopped. Millen then dashed to the corner of the end zone to score a 2-point conversion, making the score 24-18 with 6:14 left in the contest, and a nail-biting finish to the game was all but assured.
The Wildcats had momentum, but the Wolves had the ball. Unlike their earlier possessions of the half however, Eastlake was unable to overcome a false start on 1st down from their 24-yard line and went 3-and-out. Mount Si got the ball back with excellent field position at their own 39, and with 5:07 remaining and all three timeouts in their pocket, it felt like the Wildcats were primed to break Eastlake hearts.
The Eastlake defense had other thoughts. After stripping the ball from Millen on first down, Mount Si fell on the fumble but lost yards. On 2nd and 14, Jacob Allen looked like a man possessed, bursting up the middle of the pocket to flush Millen. Millen evaded Allen, only to run into the arms of Jake O’Donnell for a sack and a loss of 5. On 3rd and 19 the Wildcats nearly converted on a diving attempt by Botten on a deep post; the Wolves sideline erupted in celebration as the ball popped free and rolled harmlessly on the turf at the EHS 30 yard line.
Mount Si punted back to the Wolves with 3:42 remaining, and still had all their timeouts, but the Wolves were able to grind out two first downs and milk the remaining clock to end the game.
Eastlake travels to rival Skyline High School to face the Spartans next Friday evening at 7pm.
Am I seeing double? Eastlake had two touchdown drives of 86 yards, and Mount Si scored both of their touchdowns with 6:14 remaining in the quarter….. Talk about friendly hosts, the Wolves will need to clean up the penalties, as they committed a whopping 16 for 140 yards, helping Mount Si stay in the game; not to be outdone the Wildcats tried really hard to keep pace, committing 11 penalties of their own….. Cornerback Chris Knutson led the Wolves in tackles with 5, and the Wolves defense recorded 8 tackles for loss – impressive by any measure but considering Mount Si ran only 42 offensive plays….. Bright finished with 43 yards on 15 carries, while Leroy Jackson IV had 10 rushes for 39 yards and added a catch for 19…… Verboort and Williams each had 3 catches for 64 and 68 yards respectively….. EHS ran 78 plays to Mount Si’s 42, and doubled up the Wildcats on first downs 24 to 12; the Wolves racked up 466 yards of total offense….. Eastlake’s defense allowed only 13 rushing yards on 17 attempts.
Let’s go Wolves! #WSPS
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