Friday night was youth night at Eastlake High School and the future players for Eastlake football were introduced at halftime. If the youth players were paying attention they will hit the gym and start working out because the varsity game provided them a preview of the hard-fought games they will play in the years ahead. For the second straight week, the Eastlake Wolves dropped a close game, falling to a talented and tough Woodinville team 27-21.
The Falcons jumped out to an early 7 point lead, driving down the field and hitting a 24 yard touchdown pass on their first possession. Eastlake came right back on its first possession when senior quarterback Mark Whitley hit junior slot receiver Cole Brinkman with an 18 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7, but Woodinville didn't blink. Although the Eastlake home crowd was revved up by the tying score, Woodinville came right back, converting a 4th and 1 and later in the drive completing an 18-yard pass on 3rd down. When Falcons talented running back Dylan Axelson scored from 3 yards out, Woodinville regained the lead 14-7 with 1:12 remaining in the first quarter.
On their next drive it looked like Eastlake was determined to hold serve. As junior running back Daniel Bradley ran through big holes created by junior guard Ryan Stinnett and sophomore tackle Spencer Thompson, the Wolves drove down the field steadily. When Whitley hit junior receiver Ben Howard with a 17 yard pass the Wolves were knocking on the door for another touchdown. However, on 4th and 7 Axelson tackled Whitley for a loss and Eastlake turned the ball over on downs, still trailing 14-7.
This time, the Eastlake defense stood up forcing a Woodinville punt on 4th and 2. The Wolves took over at midfield and using a good mix of run and pass including a 7 yard pass from Whitley to junior flanker Parker Lester and several Whitley scrambles. On first down from the Woodinville 25, Whitley hit Bradley with a 25 yard screen pass for a touchdown which featured more solid blocking from Stinnett and Thompson. When sophomore kicker Jack Matheson converted the PAT, Eastlake tied the game 14-all with 4:38 left in the first half.
A determined Woodinville Falcons team wasted little time responding, this time aided by an Eastlake special teams breakdown and 3 consecutive penalties. Woodinville's kick returner found a seam and returned the kick to the Eastlake 40. The Falcons hit a 9 yard pass then benefited from back-to-back personal foul penalties on Eastlake, further compounded by an offside call which gave Woodinville first-and-goal at the 5 yard line. Axelson punched it in and Woodinville quickly led again 21-14 with 3 minutes left in the half. For the remainder of the half the teams traded possessions with senior cornerback Chandler Tolliver turning back a Woodinville threat with an interception at the 2 yard line. Halftime score Woodinville 21, Eastlake 14.
Eastlake took the 2nd half kickoff and Brinkman give the Wolves good field position at the 35 yard line. Once again, a steady dose of Bradley and Whitley moved the Wolves down the field but they couldn't convert a 4th and 4 at the Woodinville 35, turning the ball over on downs. The Eastlake defense stepped up, this time when junior linebacker Jacob Mohrhardt recovered a Woodinville fumble at the 34 yard line giving the offense great field position. This time the Wolves capitalized with more Bradley running and highlighted by Whitley hitting Lester with a 24 yard slant pass to the 1 yard line. Whitley punched it in, Matheson converted the game was tied 21-21 at the end of the 3rd quarter. For the second straight week, Wolves fans shifted uncomfortably in their seats getting ready for a nail-biting 4th quarter.
The teams battled through the 4th quarter with the Wolves defense highlighted by strong play from senior linebackers Connor McCabe, John Monahan, Bayan Farahani and Will Bickford, a tackle-for-loss by junior defensive tackle Noah Morse and a 3rd down pass defended by junior safety Cody Cox. However on this night Woodinville would not be denied. The Falcons started their game-winning 5 minute drive with 9:09 remaining in the game. The Falcons used a mix of run-and-pass, steadily eating up modest chunks of yardage but converting their 3rd downs and eventually scoring a touchdown with 4 minutes left in the game. However, Woodinville missed the ensuing PAT to lead 27-21 and giving Wolves fans hope that their team could recreate Mt Si's 1 point come-from-behind win the prior week.
With the game on the line the Wolves moved the ball with more Bradley and Whitley runs, a pass completion to Lester and a Whitley 6-yard run on 4th and 1. But, with 2:30 left in the game and the game on the line, the Falcons defense stiffened. When Whitley's pass fell incomplete on 4th and 13 with 1:16 left in the game, Woodinville went into victory formation and took home a hard-earned road win.
Offensive highlights for the Wolves included Bradley's running (21 carries, 87 yards plus a 25-yard touchdown pass reception, Whitley's playmaking with his legs (21 rushes for 88 yards and a TD) and arm (136 yards passing, 2 touchdowns) and kicker Jack Matheson (3-for-3 PAT conversions). On the defensive side of the ball, inside linebackers John Monahan and Bayan Farahani let the way with 12 and 10 tackles respectively. Senior safety Carter Browning and junior outside linebacker Jacob Mohrhardt each compiled 6 tackles. Senior linebacker Connor McCabe contributed 7 tackles (1 for loss) and added 2 solid punts.
Next week the Wolves (4-3 overall, 4-2 KingCo) travel to Redmond to play the Mustangs.