Lake Stevens’ second football game of the season was similar to the first—the Vikings rang up around 450 yards of offense and lost. This time it was a 37-24 setback at Marysville-Pilchuck on Friday, and once again a big crowd was on hand to watch a non-league contest involving teams favored to win their respective Wesco divisions (Lake in Wesco 4A, MP in Wesco 3A).
Lake hoped to unleash its passing attack against the Toms but that aspect of its game was horribly off-kilter for the first three quarters of the game. Sophomore Jacob Eason completed just one of 16 passes (with two interceptions) in the first half, for 45 yards, and deep into the third quarter he was two for 21 for 58 yards.
Eason was ineffective while being chased out of the pocket and rolling out, misfiring on several passes but he was also the victim of his receivers being unable to catch the ball. At least six sure-fire receptions were dropped by various receivers.
Running back Austin Otis picked up the slack for Lake with an outstanding effort, netting 220 yards in 29 carries. Yet, it was his fumble in the third quarter while Lake was driving for a potential tying touchdown that provided MP with a game-turning break. (It was disputed by the officials as to whether Otis was down but possession was awarded to MP, which promptly turned the break into a momentum-altering touchdown).
This was heralded as a game pitting Lake’s passing versus MP’s rushing but the Vikings actually had the better running attack in the first half, out-gaining MP by 119 net yards to 83.
Lake held MP’s vaunted Austin Joyner to 17 net yards in five carries until he broke a 48-yard run just before halftime, setting up a field goal which gave his team a 16-10 lead at the break. Of MP’s 16 rushes in the first half Lake held the ball carrier to two yards or less on 11 of them.
But that was to change significantly in the second half, where MP had eight bursts of more than 10 yards, wearing out the Viking defense as the game progressed.
MP took the game-opening kickoff and scored in two plays, a 32-yard Jake Luton to Chris Jones pass and a 29-yard explosion by JJ Valencia. Ryan Spiva added the PAT as MP led by 7-0 just 1:02 into the game.
Lake cut that to 7-3 on Ignacio Ponce’s 27-yard field goal at 10:11 of the second quarter, set up by Eason’s one completion of the first half, a 45-yard juggling catch by Tevin Gray.
MP scored just four plays later, via Luton completions of 26 and 32 yards to Alex Gray and Brayden Hopstad. Chris Lasater blocked Spiva’s PAT try, leaving the score at 13-3 with 8:42 left in the half.
Viking defense held MP on downs at the Viking 47 at 3:25, and seven Otis rushes (plus a personal foul on MP) later, he scored from the two. Ponce’s PAT cut the MP lead to 13-10 with 37 seconds left.
Lake’s “prevent” defense let Joyner scamper for 48 yards, however, and Luton’s completion to Joyner of 17 yards set up Spiva’s 32-yard field goal as the halftime horn sounded. 16-10 MP.
Order seemed to be restored to Lake’s universe when, at the outset of the second half it quickly took its first lead of the season, on a 68-yard blast by Otis, on Lake’s fourth play of a mini-drive. Suddenly it was 17-16 Vikings, 1:23 into the second half.
But MP immediately regained the lead on four Valencia rushes, the final one a 33-yarder for a TD. Luton then hit a wide-open Hunter Trueax in the back of the end zone for a 2-point conversion to make it 24-17 MP with 8:37 left in the third.
Lake seemed poised to tie the game on its next possession, marching 53 yards in 11 plays to the MP 37, where Otis lost the ball on the previously-discussed fumble.
That turnover, with 2:50 left in the quarter, proved to be Lake’s undoing.
Four plays later, Deion Stell scooted around the right side for a 46-yard TD. 31-17 MP, with 59 seconds left in the quarter.
A holding penalty on Lake’s kickoff return pushed the Vikings back to their own 8-yard line, eventually forcing a Viking punt with MP taking over on its own 45. Two plays later Joyner gained 37 yards to the LS 15 and two plays after that Valencia scored from the eight. Spiva’s PAT kick was blocked by Lasater, the latter’s second such block of the game (very possibly setting a Viking record for blocked PATs in a game). 37-17 MP, with 10:52 left.
Lake’s passing game finally kicked in, Eason completing five of seven in a brief stretch of the fourth quarter, including a 54-yarder to Otis, setting up Andrew Grimes’ three-yard TD run with 7:31 left to cut the gap to 37-24.
Lake’s last glimmer of hope expired with 1:12 left. After Eason’s 38-yard completion to Krenz gave Lake a first down on the MP 47 his next pass was intercepted by Jones on the 35.
Joyner, powerful and hard-hitting as well as shifty, who gained more than 2200 yards as a sophomore last season, finished with 154 net in 13 carries. Valencia added 105 net in 18 and Stell 52 net in just four totes.
Eason finished with eight completions in 30 passes with three interceptions, for 184 yards. Luton was six of 15 with one interception (by Justin Brown), for 112 yards. MP netted 330 yards rushing in 41 carries, Lake 242 net in 37 carries. Lake had 18 first downs, MP 17. Lake was penalized seven times for 71 yards, MP seven times for 51 yards.
For the second straight game Viking linebacker CJ Lat recorded 22 tackles. Lat is on pace to shatter Lake’s single-season tackle mark. Kolby Jones had 11 tackles for the Vikings, while teammates Evan Miksch and Krenz were credited with nine each.
Lake hosts another unbeaten 3A Wesco non-league opponent, Oak Harbor, this Friday.