In a bizarre and possibly unprecedented half-game Friday evening, 8th ranked Eastlake defeated Redmond 14-7, setting up the Wolves to face Bothell in the KingCo 4A Championship game on Halloween at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Other than Eastlake earning a ticket to the championship game, how this game actually unfolded was a pretty far cry from what could have been expected at kickoff.
After a sluggish first half, lightning strikes in the area forced both teams back to the locker rooms and bleachers were evacuated by fans shortly before the second half was to begin. That was at approximately 8:24pm. Shortly before 10:00pm the game was suspended. Over the weekend school officials made the decision to call the game complete awarding the Wolves a necessary albeit abbreviated victory.
After thrashing these same Mustangs, a year ago 49-0 on the road, Eastlake took the opening kickoff to midfield, and promptly marched 50 yards to take a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game on a 22-yard strike from Grady Robison to Zade Thompson.
But what appeared to look like a dominant start on the way to another easy win soon became an exercise in the mastery of stagnation, as the Wolves struggled the remainder of the half to find any offensive rhythm before finally scoring the decisive touchdown with under a minute left in the first half.
Between the scores, the Wolves stalled on drives offensively and were frustrated by the very disruptive Mustang pass rush. Robison, reportedly playing through sickness and fever, was flushed from the pocket repeatedly and forced to scramble or throw the ball away.
Meanwhile the Redmond offense, which barely managed to cross the 50-yard line a year earlier, answered Eastlake’s opening touchdown with an emphatic touchdown drive of their own to tie the score at 7-7 halfway through the first quarter.
Following the scores, the game became such a snoozer that even the officials seemed to lose interest, particularly when punting was involved. Penalties, missed blocks, dropped passes, and blown calls were the theme for both squads until late in the half.
Eastlake responded to Redmond’s touchdown with a quick strike of 40 yards on a play action pass, as Robison hit a wide-open Garret Carney over the middle, setting up the Wolves at the Mustang 20. The drive faltered though, and the Wolves turned the ball over on downs after an intentional grounding call on 4th and 5.
The Wolves defense, led by Carney’s 7 tackles including 2.5 for loss, maybe wasn’t at its best to start, but was plenty good enough to shut the Mustangs out the rest of the way. After yielding the opening touchdown, Eastlake allowed Redmond to drive to their 26 on the Mustangs’ second possession before forcing a turnover on downs. After that drive, it was virtual lockdown as the Wolves yielded a stingy 26 yards on 19 offensive plays for the Mustangs.
Following the stop, the Wolves would then virtually mirror Redmond’s drive, moving the ball quickly down field highlighted by a Robison to Max Verboort pass and catch covering 36 yards but again Eastlake would turn the ball over on downs again, after failing to convert on 4th and 6 from the Redmond 25.
Redmond then did Eastlake a bit of a favor on the ensuing drive. Following a pair of first downs, the Mustangs stalled out near midfield and ran a very ill-advised fake punt, actually running away from their unbalanced line. After a nice start to the following drive, the Wolves put the bus in reverse in a big way, taking losses on consecutive plays leading to a punt on 4th and 42.
The Mustangs then squandered what could have been a game winning drive. Redmond started with excellent field position late in the 2nd quarter, but an incomplete pass to a wide-open receiver at the Eastlake 20 on 4th and 7 gave the Wolves the ball back with 1:40 left in the half, and two time-outs.
The Wolves barely needed a minute.
Robison took a short sack and missed Cooper Williams on an out route to the EHS sideline to open the drive, leaving Eastlake with 3rd and 11 at their own 43. Williams then reeled in a first down catch on a deep comeback and spun out of bounds to stop the clock with 1:15 remaining in the half. Continuing to pick on Redmond’s boundary side, Robison targeted Williams for a third consecutive play and pair again connected, this time on a pump-and-go to the Redmond 4-yard line. Wolves punched in the winning touchdown two plays later as Robison sprinted to the pylon off a play fake with only 34 seconds left in the half.
At the time, nobody could have known that would be the game winning score.
Despite rolling up 228 yards of total offense in one half of football, Eastlake managed only 14 points; 6 penalties for 85 yards hurt the offense as much as anything Redmond did defensively…. Ryan Curran was 2 for 2 on PAT’s and punted once for 37 yards…. Robison completed 9 of 17 passes hitting 5 different receivers…… The Wolves had no sacks in the game but recorded 6 tackles for loss.
Championship Game Preview:
Trick, or Treat? Crest division champion Eastlake faces 9th ranked Bothell for the KingCo 4A championship on Halloween this Thursday. Yet the highest rated team in the league, 5th ranked Woodinville, finished 2nd in the Crown division and is rewarded with hosting Skyline in a cross-over game. Don’t let the rankings alone tell the whole story. While the Cougars are 6-2 on the year, they beat the Falcons in week 6 by a tally of 33-29 to own the tiebreaker in the Crown division. Bothell’s losses need to be taken in context. Like Eastlake, the Cougars boast an undefeated conference record. Bothell suffered their two losses early in the year in non-conference play, losing consecutive games to O’Dea and Kennedy Catholic, the top-ranked 3A team in the state and #3 ranked team in 4A respectively.
Let’s go Wolves! #WSPS
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