Fans of the Mountlake Terrace football team had to be worried Friday night as the team started flat and fell behind 13-0 to Mariner in the first half of the opening game of the 2014 season.
But the slow start was turned around with some big plays, staunch defense, gutsy play calling, and emotional stamina, and the Hawks came away in the end with a 14-13 win over Mariner at Goddard Stadium.
After giving up 130 yards and two long touchdown drives during the first 20 minutes of the game, Terrace looked to be in even deeper trouble as the Marauders had the ball near midfield past the halfway point of the second quarter. But senior Ryan Lacasse picked off a long pass by Mariners’ quarterback Kyle DiLeonardo at the Terrace goal line, returning the interception 50 yards. A Marauder personal foul penalty tacked on another 15 yards, setting up the Hawk offense at the 35-yard line.
Seven plays later Terrace put their first points of the game and the season with a Malcolm Johnson 7-yard touchdown run. The turn of events also changed the momentum of the contest drastically, giving the Hawks some renewed spirit and deflating the charged-up Marauders.
Despite falling behind early, Mountlake Terrace coach Tony Umayam wasn’t too concerned, believing that his team would be able to slow down the quicker Marauders over time with physical play. “They have some very talented backs that we were very concerned about,” Umayam said. “We just knew going in that we weren’t going to win this game in the first couple quarters. We had to wear them out with physical football, running the football, our brand of football.”
Mariner’s speedy ball carriers, Dyonte Law and Greg Whitaker, combined for 237 yards rushing, most of which came in the first half. No one on the Terrace side could match their quickness individually, something Umayam admitted was difficult to prepare for. “You can’t duplicate that speed at practice,” he said. “And that’s why it took us a half to adjust to that speed. And then once our guys adjusted, it was pretty nice.”
Terrace’s team defense ruled the second half, with 14 Hawks getting credit for tackles. Lacasse led the squad with five solo tackes, and junior Miles Allen tallying two solo tackles and two more assisted tackles.
Umayam was very impressed with Allen; “He had about a good a game at nose tackle as I’ve seen here at Terrace in 10 years,” Umayam said.
The team did suffer a big blow late in the third quarter when senior defensive back and wide receiver Michael Hunt went down with a broken left leg as he attempted to get in on a tackle. Hunt laid on the field in obvious pain as paramedics worked on him for 15 minutes before driving him away to a local hospital. The injury was tough on a number of Hunt’s teammates who either looked away or dropped to their knees in distress.
“It was just an ugly leg injury,” Umayam said after the game. “A pretty bad break; they saw bone. He’s in our thoughts and prayers for sure.”
With Hunt out of the game, and a second receiver, Josh Hopkins, out after a second quarter injury, odds were Terrace would have to rely on strictly a rushing game to carry them to victory in the second half. The Hawks had taken a 14-13 lead in the third quarter on a Johnson 5-yard TD run, and running the football would keep the clock moving and, in theory, wear down the Marauder defensive line. But it took a big pass to help seal the Terrace victory.
With 10:04 left in the game, the Hawks were pinned at their own 10-yard line when quarterback Justin Hopkins completed his only pass of the game – a 22-yard toss to Austin Bates– to convert a third and 10 into a first down.
“That was just a helluva call by coach Yalowicki, the offensive coordinator, and Justin came through,” Umayam said. “That was really a clutch play that I think turned the game. It got us out of the shadow of our end zone, and then we were able to sustain a little bit of a drive. That was a nice throw by Justin, great catch by Austin.”
The Hawks were outgained in yardage by Mariner 275 to 214, had just 10 first downs to the Marauders 14, and lost the time of possession battle 30:19 to 17:41. But the only numbers that really counted, the 14-13 score, went Terrace’s way.
“This one I would say is a character win,” Umayam said, “because we were down, Josh Hopkins is out for the game, we have the gruesome injury, we turned the ball over late in the game and they had the ball in our end and our defense had a helluva stand there in the fourth quarter. So this one of those that I would say the kids showed a lot of character – and you can actually believe it.”
– By Doug Petrowski
Mountlake Terrace vs. Mariner football, Sept. 5
Mountlake Terrace 0 7 7 0 — 14
Mariner 7 6 0 0 — 13
Dyonte Law (Mariner) 1-yard TD run – PAT kick good
Dyonte Law (Mariner) 3-yard TD run – PAT kick no good
Malcolm Johnson (MTHS) 7-yard TD run – PAT kick good
Malcolm Johnson (MTHS) 5-yard TD run – PAT kick good
Records: Mountlake Terrace 1-0, Mariner 0-1
MTHS next game: vs. Meadowdale, Friday, Sept. 12, 8 p.m. at Edmonds Stadium