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Wildcats beat Bulldogs in wild game
Friday’s non-league high school football matchup between Oak Harbor and Mount Vernon could have been script for the next big reality television series.
Something like “Survivor — Wildcat Memorial Stadium.”
Playing before a large and vocal hometown crowd the Wildcats took an early lead, then surrendered it, then fought back with last-minute touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to earn a hard-fought 42-32 victory.
In true survivor fashion the Wildcats overcame four turnovers, a whole bunch of missed tackles and a plethora of big plays by the Bulldogs to even their season record at 2-2.
The victory gives the Oak Harbor team a tremendous morale boost heading into Friday’s game against arch rival Snohomish.
“We got the win and we needed it,” coach Jay Turner said. “This is a real confidence builder for us going into the league schedule.”
Oak Harbor started the game running out of a shotgun-style offense for the first time this season and Donovan Hunt opened the scoring capping a five-play drive on the Wildcats’ first series of plays. The junior halfback ripped off a 49-yard touchdown dash at the 9:37 mark of the first quarter and Kevin Flavin added the extra-point kick for an early 7-0 lead.
Hunt’s run was just the beginning of a big rushing night for the purple and gold running backs who netted 428 yards on 32 attempts.
At the 6:53 mark of the second period, senior Stephen Lewis took the ball to the house from 23-yards out and Flavin’s kick gave the Wildcats a 14-0 advantage.
Hunt rushed for 179 yards on 12 carries, Lewis had 129 yards on 15 attempts and Brad Farnum toted the ball eight times for an additional 121 yards.
“It’s kind of a three-headed monster with Brad, Stephen Lewis and Donovan Hunt,” Turner said. “Our line did a tremendous job opening holes for them.”
“We got underneath them, drove them hard and drove them down the field,” senior tackle Brooks Waller said.
After Lewis scored, quarterback Ray Walser got the Bulldogs’ game in gear.
The senior hit Joe Barrington on a 25-yard scoring strike with 5:05 remaining before halftime and after Oak Harbor fumbled the ensuing kickoff, tossed a 2-yard scoring pass to Evan Hill to tie the score.
“They run a lot of plays and their quarterback is a great player,” Turner said. “He’s tough to bring down and makes a lot of guys miss.”
Unable to move the ball the Wildcats punted, but then Oak Harbor’s defense went to work.
Michael Repose chased Walser down while trying to pass and with the assistance of Javon Payne and Bennett Richter, forced a fumble. Greg Goebel scooped up the loose ball and rambled 38 yards for a touchdown with 48 seconds left to give Oak Harbor a 21-14 halftime lead.
Mount Vernon’s Michael Acode almost broke the Wildcats’ backs when he ran the second-half kickoff back 93 yards before Derrick Clarit bumped him out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
Two plays lated, Walser punched the ball in the end zone to tie the score once again.
At the 8:31 mark of the third quarter, David Navarro gave the Bulldogs their first lead, 24-21, nailing a 33-yard field goal.
“Mount Vernon’s tough,” Turner said. “They just come at you and that offense is explosive. They’re never out of the game.”
However, the Wildcats were far from finished.
Lewis put Oak Harbor back in front with a 20-yard run on a counter play at the 2:18 mark and after the defense rose up again and stopped the Bulldogs on three plays, put the Wildcats up 35-24 with a 5-yard TD run with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter.
“Our offensive coaches, Mike Fisher, Craig Nurvic and Kevin Allen put together a good offensive game plan and we were able to bounce back from last week’s loss,” Turner said.
Both teams traded punts and field positions in the fourth quarter until Walser scored with 3:36 remaining in the game. His 2-point conversion pass to Tim Olivarez shaved the lead to three points, 35-32.
The Wildcats took the ball over at Mount Vernon’s 46-yard line with 2:37 remaining in the game and the the crowd, which had been loud and supportive the entire game, began yelling even louder for their purple and gold warriors.
Mount Vernon tried to crowd the line of scrimmage with the clock winding down and no time outs left in an effort to regain possession. But Hunt broke through the line on a fourth and 15 situation and raced 30-yards into the end zone with 27 seconds remaining to put the game in the book.
After the game Chris Neumiller, one of Oak Harbor’s senior linemen, said he was really beat up.
“We finally pulled it together and dug deep,” he said. “We started driving them back and our running game just exploded.”
Oak Harbor returns to WesCo North action Friday night hosting Snohomish (1-1 league, 2-2 overall) who defeated Monroe 35-28.
Kickoff against the Panthers is set for 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26
Oak Harbor 42, Mount Vernon 32
Mount Vernon 0 14 10 8 — 32
Oak Harbor 7 14 14 7 — 42
OH — Donovan Hunt 49 run (Kevin Flavin kick) 9:37
OH — Stephen Lewis 23 run (Flavin kick) 6:53
MV — Joe Barrington 25 pass from Ray Walser (David Navarro kick) 5:05
MV — Evan Hill 5 pass from Walser (Navarro kick) 3:52
OH — Greg Goebel 38 fumble recovery (Flavin kick) :48
MV — Walser 2 run (Navarro kick) 11:12
MV — Navarro 33 FG 8:31
OH — Lewis 20 run (Flavin kick) 2:18
OH — Lewis 5 run (Flavin kick) :45
MV — Walser 1 run (Tim Olivarez pass from Walser) 3:36
OH — Hunt 30 run (Flavin kick) :27
Game stats. Mt. Vernon OH
First downs 16 11
Rushes-yards 25-33 32-428
Passing yards 237 26
Comp.-Att. 22-45-1 2 4-11-1-0
Fumbles lost 1-1 4-3
Sacks-yards lost 4-33 0-0
Penalties 4-40 9-64
RUSHING — Mount Vernon: Ray Walser 20-46, Joe Barrington 2-minus 3, Evan Hill 3-minus 9; Oak Harbor: Donovan Hunt 12-179, Stephen Lewis 15-129, Brad Farnum 8-121, J Jordan 6-0, Derrick Clarit 1-minus 1.
PASSING — Mount Vernon: Walser 22-45-1 2 237; Oak Harbor: Jordan 4-11-1 0 26.
RECEIVING — Mount Vernon: Barrington 8-91, Colin Findley-Meier 7-71, Chris Chapman 2-30, Hill 2-29, Michael Acode 2-15, Tim Olivarez 1-4; Oak Harbor: Jim Koepke 1-9, Yale Rosen 1-9, Rashaad Smith 2-8.
WesCo North scores
Friday, Sept. 26
Oak Harbor 42, Mount Vernon 32
Lake Stevens 45, Arlington 23
Marysville-Pilchuck 32, Stanwood 14
Snohomish 35, Monroe 28