His senior football season seemingly down to its last dying breath, Viking quarterback Jake Nelson engineered what may be the greatest comeback drive in Lake’s nearly century-long football history last Saturday before a jam-packed home crowd, for a miraculous 21-17 win over Olympia.
Given that this time a berth in the state Playoff quarterfinals was at stake, this one surpassed even Lake’s final-seconds 24-21 win against Oak Harbor five years ago (the Wildcats’ only loss in their state championship season).
The win sends Lake (11-0 and one of just three still-undefeated 4A teams) to Eastlake (10-1 and rated number one late in this season) on Saturday.
It wasn’t so much that Lake managed to beat a superb Olympia team (9-2) whose only previous loss was a controversial 15-14 decision to now number one Bellarmine, it was how this feat was accomplished—earning it the moniker “The Oly Miracle Game.”
Facing third and 43 on its own 10 yard line with 48 seconds remaining, Lake’s only hope seemed to be for Nelson to complete a pair of mid-range passes to try to eke out a first down. When the passing option broke down, Nelson took off scrambling, eluding tacklers all the way to the Olympia 31, a 59-yard run which gave Lake fresh life with 32 seconds left.
Needing more yardage to set up at least a try for a game-tying field goal, Nelson hit Christian Gasca for a five-yard completion. Time out with 20 seconds left.
On the next play Nelson found Gasca streaking to the right corner of the end zone, delivering an absolutely perfect strike which Gasca grasped in stride between two closely-defending Bears for the game-winning touchdown with 13 ticks left on the clock.
Viking sidelines and crowd exploded in joy, then held its collective breath as an official dropped a penalty flag. A holding call on Lake, negating the score? No. Both teams were called for extracurricular activity after the play was over, the double penalties canceling each other out -- the touchdown stood.
What shouldn’t be lost in all the excitement of the miracle finish are the remarkable details which led up to it. Along the way there were many dramatic twists and turns, some of them cruel to either team in a game which produced 856 yards of offense (Oly 454, Lake 402) and 40 first downs (Oly 23, Lake 17). Several Vikings, some of them unsung, contributed keys to the win.
Brady Pahukoa, a major player on offense and defense in every Viking win this season, is a prime example of a Viking who hasn’t yet received as much recognition as he deserves. The senior receiver/safety factored heavily with seven catches for 85 yards including a touchdown, 12 tackles on defense, and three punts for a 41-yard average.
Amazing, miraculous win, one of the greatest in Viking history, accomplished via poise, courage, focus, teamwork.
Nelson completed 23 of 29 passes (no interceptions) for 248 yards and he netted 92 yards in 16 rushes. Houser was 10 for 19 (with two interceptions) for 228 yards.
Pahukoa’s seven receptions gained 85 yards and a TD. Gasca caught 8 footballs for 67 yards and two TDs. Gasca now has 16 TD receptions and 22 TDs altogether and 1099 receiving yards for the season, continuing his record-setting run. Nelson has now tossed 26 TD passes this year along with his 15 rushing TDs (more ongoing season and career records).
Lake netted 154 yards rushing in 24 carries, Olympia netted 226 yards in 50 carries.
Penalties (as was the case in the Edmonds-Woodway game) were key to Lake’s win, with the Vikings losing 35 yards on four infractions to 88 yards via 11 flags against Olympia.
High man on the Viking tackles list was Young with 17 (he has already smashed the Viking career record in this department), followed by Guy 16, Tupen 14, Pahukoa 12, Labreche and Elgaen 9 each, Juan Delgado, Anthony Blackie and Enyeart 7 each, and Johnson 6.
For a more detailed report and photos from Saturday’s game visit www.purpleandgoldpigskin.com.