Give the game ball to the defense.
Five times Meadowdale started drives in Oak Harbor territory but scored only once as the Wildcats defeated the Mavericks 27-8 Friday, Nov. 1, at Edmonds Stadium.
Oak Harbor earned the Western Conference’s third seed and a playoff home game with the win.
The Wildcats face another band of Wildcats, hosting Mount Si at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. Mount Si, ranked fifth in the state, lost only once this year, 52-13 to No. 1 in Washington and nationally-ranked Bellevue.
Ironically, Meadowdale, the fifth seed with the loss, appears to have a less formidable opponent, 6-3 and unranked Timberline. Timberline, however, is the Narrows League champion, while Mount Si finished second in Kingco.
The final Oak Harbor-Meadowdale score is misleading; the game was close to the finish.
The Wildcats led only 13-8 with less than four minutes left in the game.
Meadowdale won the field position battle but couldn’t overcome Oak Harbor’s hard-hitting defense. The Wildcats forced four turnovers.
The Mavericks began drives at the Oak Harbor 43-, 29-, 39-, 30- and 40-yard lines. Four of those came in the first five drives of the second half.
In part to excellent punting by Meadowdale’s Taylor Linton, Oak Harbor started just one drive better than its own 29 and had eight begin from the 20 in.
The game’s first points were scored on the first play of the second quarter when a snap on an Oak Harbor punt attempt sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.
After the kick off after the safety, the Mavericks started on the Oak Harbor 43. That threat was ended by the first interception, this one by Savion Hollins-Passmore, who returned it 18 yards back to the Wildcat 43.
Oak Harbor drove in from there with Julian Faralan scoring from the 6. Dyllan Harris, shifting to wing back from wide receiver because Oak Harbor’s leading rusher Sheyenne Sams didn’t play, highlighted the drive with a 20-yard run.
After a Maverick punt, Oak Harbor began at its own 10. Ninety yards and eight plays later, Oak Harbor scored to go up 13-2.
Wildcat quarterback Clay Doughty threw only two passes in the game, completing both to Harris, and they came during this drive. The first, for 22 yards, came on third-and-six from the 14. The second went for 48 yards and a touchdown with 3:06 left in the half.
The second half started with a huge gamble. On fourth and a half yard from its own 29, Oak Harbor went for it and was stuffed. Meadowdale over came a holding call and scored on a 41-yard screen pass to make it 13-8.
The Wildcats then fumbled and Meadowdale began at the Wildcat 39. The Mavericks were poised to take the lead, gaining a first down at the Oak Harbor 4-yard line. The Oak Harbor defense responded. On a swing pass, the Meadowdale receiver was stripped of the ball inches from the goal line and Oak Harbor recovered in the end zone.
A series of punts followed.
On the fourth punt of this series, Oak Harbor was forced to kick from its own end zone and the Mavericks returned the ball to the Wildcat 30. The Oak Harbor defense did its thing, forcing Meadowdale to turn the ball over on downs.
Oak Harbor punted it back and appeared to have Meadowdale stopped as well, but on fourth-and-23 Oak Harbor roughed the punter.
On the next play, Harris intercepted a Jeremiah Evans’ pass and returned it 45 yards to Maverick 23. Two plays later Faralan scored from the 17 and Oak Harbor led 20-8 with 3:06 left in the game.
Dejon Devroe added another interception during Meadowdale’s next possession and returned it to the Maverick 29. Princeton Lollar, a freshman seeing his first varsity action, ran 25 yards for the game’s final touchdown with 1:40 left. Mark Johnston kicked his third PAT.
For the game, the Wildcat defense held Meadowdale to only 16 yards rushing on 17 attempts. Evans and Caleb Tingstad, who played the final series, combined to complete only 13 of 34 passes for 167 yards.
Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner said the key to the game was getting pressure on Evans. The Wildcats went with a cover-zero look (no free safety) much of the game and succeeded in harassing Evans.
“We rolled the dice and sometimes you get lucky,” Turner said.
Oak Harbor rushed for 260 yards, led by Faralan with 80 on 21 carries. Devroe added 61 yards on 16 tries, while Harris had 45 and Lollar 47 on seven carries each.
Turner said Lollar may play a bigger role in the Mount Si game because Harris suffered a turf toe injury and may be out.
Lollar played with the freshman team most of the year and in the final junior varsity game.
Turner said Lollar was “easily the best player on the field” in the JV game and the staff decided he was ready for varsity.
“We wanted to get him a few carries (against Meadowdale) and give him a taste of prime time,” Turner said.