Lake Stevens advanced to the next round of the State Football Playoffs with a 44-7 home field dismantling of Heritage (Vancouver) last Friday evening.
Four of Lake’s TDs came via the quick, tricky feet of Christian Gasca. The senior receiver/defensive back’s four scores, which covered a total of 219 yards, consisted of punt returns of 83 and 59 yards, a 51-yard interception return, and a 26-yard reception from Jake Nelson.
Gasca has scored 20 touchdowns so far this season.
Lake (10-0) is one of five remaining undefeated teams in the 4A ranks. The Vikings host Olympia (9-1) this Saturday. Olympia’s lone loss was 15-14 to number one ranked Bellarmine.
Heritage (3-7), number three finisher in the Greater St. Helen’s League, found itself in a blowout when Lake, with Gasca paving the way, scored 30 unanswered points in the second quarter for a 37-0 halftime lead, Gasca’s TD reception from Nelson early in the second half made it 44-0 and started the “continuous running clock” which cut the game short.
Viking reserves played most of the second half and accounted for 32 yards in losses which reduced Lake’s overall yardage advantage to 240-168 for the game. But that total does not include Gasca’s punt returns or his interception return.
Lake put together a solid all-around performance to finally overwhelm the Timberwolves in the second quarter.
Lake held Heritage to one first down and a punt on the latter’s first possession, which Gasca returned 83 yards for a TD. Gasca got a nice downfield block from Juan Delgado to help free him for the score. Tanner Sellars’ PAT made it 7-0 at 9:27 of the quarter.
Heritage’s next possession was ended by Brady Pahukoa’s interception of Joseph Cooper’s pass, returned eight yards to the Viking 36.
Shae Giddens rushed for one first down and an eight yard Nelson to Pahukoa pass netted another, before a tipped Nelson pass was intercepted by Gage Boyce and returned six yards to the Heritage 41.
But Lake quickly forced a punt and launched an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive with Nelson connecting on four of five passes and scoring on a one-yard rush to make it 14-0 at 10:53 of the second quarter.
Pahukoa broke up a Cooper pass to allow Lake to take over on downs at the LS 41. Four plays later Lake was again in the end zone. Giddens burst around the right side for 19 yards, Nelson passed to Quincy Carroll for 14 yards then to Giddens for 14 yards and finally to Pahukoa for a 13-yard TD. 21-0 with 1:57 left in the half.
Three plays later Gasca made an over the shoulder interception of a Cooper pass, and after many fakes, stops and starts, and tip-toe avoidance of the left sideline, he wove to the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown. 28-0 with a minute left in the half.
Heritage went three and punt, with Gasca fielding the ball on the bounce and outrunning everyone for a 59-yard score. 35-0 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Lake was awarded another two points just a second before halftime when, after the Vikings pinned the T-wolves deep in their own territory following the kickoff, Cooper was called for intentional grounding while passing out of the end zone.
Incredibly, Lake nearly added more points following the free kick which Giddens returned 40 yards to the Heritage 20.
Lake added its final points at 9:50 of the third quarter when the third of three straight Nelson completions (six yards to Gasca, 19 to Carroll, 26 to Gasca for a TD) made it 44-0.
Lake reserves played most of the remaining time. Cooper (who had two probable TD passes dropped and a third potential score thwarted by a Pahukoa save) finally got his team on the board with a 36-yard TD pass to Rajheem Carrie with 3:10 remaining. 44-7 final.
Giddens finished with 77 net yards in 10 carries. Nelson was an efficient 15 of 20 (with one interception) for 174 yards. Lake’s rushing total was 66 net yards, to Heritage’s 58 net. Cooper connected on 13 of 26 (with two interceptions) for 110 yards.
Lake had 15 first downs (none in the game’s final 14 minutes), Heritage seven.
Heritage was penalized eight times for 67 yards, Lake only once for 15 yards.
Gasca’s five pass receptions totaled 73 yards, Carroll’s five for 47 yards, Pahukoa four for 40 yards.
Leading Viking tackler was Blake Sander with eight, while Delgado, Paul Labreche, Gasca and Mitchell Claymore each contributed seven.
Those who had a hand in sacking the Heritage QB were Delgado, Anthony Blackie, Brandon Johnson, Ryan Simoneaux and Sander.