Lake Stevens took a giant step towards snaring the Wesco North football championship by powering past Arlington 42-32 last Friday night on the Eagles’ home field.
Lake now stands at 2-0 in league, 5-0 overall. Arlington is 2-1 and 4-1, with three league games remaining for each team.
In a battle between Wesco 4A’s only unbeaten teams, Lake avenged last season’s 36-28 loss to Arlington which cost the Vikings a share of the league title, a loss in which the Vikings committed six turnovers.
But this time Lake’s focus and intensity were unwavering, both on offense and defense. The Vikings won the crucial turnover battle, surrendering the ball just once while stealing it three times.
Another key to the win was Lake’s forging of a 14-0 lead in the first half. Arlington never quite caught up as Lake kept the pressure on throughout the game, finally securing the victory with 21 fourth quarter points.
Viking QB Jake Nelson helmed the win with his fifth straight dynamic performance of the season. Nelson picked apart Arlington’s defense with 20 completions in 29 attempts for 251 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for another two scores.
Lake failed to score a touchdown on its opening drive for the first time this season, punting on its initial possession, but the defense stymied Arlington and Lake mounted a scoring drive on its second try, driving 89 yards in 13 plays.
Four Nelson completions in five attempts accounted for 41 of the 51 yards to paydirt. Brady Pahukoa’s tackle-breaking 18-yard reception was followed by short tosses to Gasca, Giddens, and Giddens again for first-and-goal on the two.
Andrew Elgean entered the game for the express purpose of plowing his way into the end zone, and he took the handoff and did just that. 14-0 Lake, 7:01 before halftime.
Arlington’s offense finally came alive after that, as it took the Eagles just five plays to go 74 yards following the kickoff.
The second half produced 51 total points, 28 of them belonging to Lake.
Arlington’s QB Blake McPherson’s 19-yard keeper on Arlington’s second play of the half produced a first down on the Eagle 45, but two plays later, after a 10-yard completion to Elgarico, the latter fumbled after being hit by Paul Labreche, with Elgean recovering and returning the ball four yards to the Viking 45.
Nelson wasted no time in punishing Arlington for that turnover. He tossed nine yards to Giddens followed by a 46-yard scoring strike to Gasca, who was left totally uncovered. 21-7 Lake, at 9:17 of the third quarter.
Nelson had the better of McPherson in the passing game, completing 20 of 29 (with no interceptions) for 251 yards. McPherson completed 12 of 27 (with one interception) for 199 yards (overall Arlington completed 13 of 28 passes for 237 yards).
Nelson’s tosses were evenly distributed among Pahukoa (seven catches for 77 yards and a TD), Gasca (six catches for 117 yards and a TD), and Giddens (six catches for 56 yards).
Lake outgained Arlington 168-138 in net rushing yards, with Giddens carrying 18 times for 100 yards, and McPherson netting 88 yards in 13 carries.
Lake had 25 first downs, Arlington 17.
Lake was penalized six times for 56 yards, Arlington seven for 55.
In an all-out team effort in which almost every Viking made an important contribution, LaBreche emerged as a surprise star. The defensive back led Lake in tackles with 12 including a sack and was in on several key hits. Elgean had eight tackles and Delgado had six (including a sack).
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