Friday night marked an unofficial end to Summer, and a pleasant end it was. While students are not back in the classroom until after Labor Day, the Eastlake Football team labored its way to solid and hard-earned victory over a young and resilient squad from Monroe, 35-19.
While the margin of victory may paint this as a decisive victory, Eastlake held a 2 point lead at 21-19 after three quarters, and the pesky Bearcats gave the Wolves all they could handle in a challenging opening game.
In a contest noteworthy for its exceeding duration and 19 combined penalties between the oppontents, Eastlake eventually wore down the smaller Bearcats. The Wolves imposed their will with a ground attack that was unrelenting all evening, and epitomized in the decisive final quarter, as Eastlake ran the ball on 15 of 17 offensive snaps, controlling the clock and ultimately ending any hope of a road upset for Monroe.
Monroe jumped to an early lead before many of the Eastlake faithful had made it to their seats, as the Bearcats bounced the opening kickoff straight up the EHS sideline and led 6-0. After Nate Sutter blocked the ensuing point after kick to get the crowd back into the game, the Wolves offense took the field and had a promising drive stall out after a fumble.
After surrendering a first down to Monroe on a penalty, the Eastlake defense came up with a big stop and takeaway of their own. Austin Gray recovered a fumbled snap on punt deep in Monroe territory. Two plays later, the Wolves found the endzone for the first time on the young season as Grady Robison threw a 30-yard strike to Sutter, who fought through a defensive pass interference to make a spectacular catch at the pylon. With the point after the Wolves had their first lead at 7-6 but it was short lived.
Monroe punched right back. After recovering an onside kick at their own 39, the Bearcats put together an impressive 61 yard drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown plunge by sturdy halfback Blake Rybar, regaining the lead at 13-7. Eastlake countered with a productive drive highlighted by a 44 yard catch and run by Vini Monteiro, but after a penalty and sack on successive plays, the Wolves were forced to punt.
The Bearcats would take over but their drive only succeeded in reigniting the Eastlake crowd starting the second quarter, as the Wolves would block a punt and set up a short field. Five plays later running back Garret Carney scored the first of his four touchdowns on the evening, taking a screen pass into the endzone from 12 yards out, and Eastlake was back on top 14-13.
Eastlake got one more scare from the Bearcats before halftime. After starting their next possession in EHS territory, the Bearcats would ultimately have a touchdown called back for holding on 3rd down and 6 from inside the Eastlake 20 yard line. Following the penalty, an incomplete pass set up a 4th and 15 for Monroe from the Eastlake 27. The Bearcats elected to try another pass play and surely hoped to score again before halftime, but Brody Leslie had other ideas, recording a quarterback sack all the way back to the Wolves 35 yard line where the Eastlake would take over.
In a drive that was fast and effective, Eastlake would tack on one more touchdown before halftime. After successive 12 yard catches by Leslie, Cooper Williams broke a tackle on a short pass for another 15 yards, and after a Monroe personal foul on the play, the Wolves found themselves knocking at the door with the ball at the 11 yard line. The Wolves capped the drive with consecutive runs by Carney and took a 21-13 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was nearly a defensive stalemate. Eastlake had a strong opening drive end on a Monroe interception in the endzone eating away nearly half the quarter. The Bearcats took over at their own 12 yard line but the drive appeared to be stalled early until Monroe was awarded a first down by penalty. They then took full advantage of new life, marching the ball 88 yards in just under 5 minutes, scoring on a pass play from 23 yards out. The Bearcats then elected to try a 2-point conversion and tie the game, but Leslie was on the spot again, tripping up the Bearcats’ quarterback on a scramble at the 1 yard line.
Eastlake would put the game out of reach once and for all in the final quarter. After the teams traded punts, Eastlake began a drive in Monroe territory and gave the Bearcats a steady dose of Garret Carney runs, effectively moving the ball and eating clock. The drive began with Carney and the offensive line setting the tone. Running off tackle, Carney would cut back inside and the Wolves would gain 17 yards after a significant push of the scrum but the entire line. The drive ended with a Carney touchdown.
Monroe fought hard throughout the game and their last gasp was on par with their effort from the opening kick. After the score, they marched the ball to midfield but the drive stalled on consecutive incomplete passes. The Wolves defense was simply too much to overcome, and after retaking possession, the Wolves continued the ground assault and Carney would finish the evening with his fourth touchdown with less than a minute to play.
Carney led all offensive players with 157 yards from scrimmage; kicker Ryan Curran was a perfect 5-5 on PAT’s; Robison completed 14 of 19 passes for 187 yards, connecting with 9 different EHS receivers; Eastlake outgained Monroe in total yards 343-213 and had 23 first downs to Monroe’s 14.
Next Up: Wolves travel to Lake Washington to take on the mighty Kangaroos on Friday 9/7, 7pm kickoff
Special thanks to:
1. Statistician John Miller
2. Sotter Eric Bryant
3 Photograpers: Chad Greene and Mark Sutter