Wildcats upset Lake Stevens 28-14, keep slim playoff hopes alive

Brent Rryan bulls in for Oak Harbor’s final score in Friday’s homecoming win.  - Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times
Brent Rryan bulls in for Oak Harbor’s final score in Friday’s homecoming win.
— image credit: Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times

Give an assist to Mother Nature.

The Oak Harbor football team and heavy winds upset Lake Stevens 28-14 on homecoming night Friday at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

The Vikings entered the game 3-1 in Western Conference North play and in second place. The Wildcats were 1-3. Lake Stevens is now in a three-way tie for second along with Stanwood and Arlington at 3-2. Next are the Wildcats at 2-3.

Oak Harbor still has a shot at the playoffs if – and they are big ifs – they can knock off undefeated Marysville-Pilchuck next week, and Snohomish at 1-4 can upset Lake Stevens.

Stanwood and Arlington play each other. The loser will end up in a three-way tie for third (and the final playoff spot) with Oak Harbor and Lake Stevens at 3-3 if Oak Harbor and Snohomish pull off the upsets.

A win over Oak Harbor Friday would have clinched a playoff berth for Lake Stevens, but the Vikings had trouble moving the ball against the wind and had trouble hanging on to the ball, losing four fumbles.

The Wildcats mustered just enough offense and did not commit a turnover to secure the win.

Lake Stevens’ first four possessions went like this: punt (an 8-yarder into the wind), fumble, fumble, fumble.

As a result Oak Harbor started its first four drives at the Viking 33, 17, 30, and 38.

Oak Harbor’s first four possessions went like this: missed 58-yard field goal, missed 41-yard field goal, missed 47-yard field goal, loss of downs.

After a Lake Stevens’ punt, Oak Harbor finally put together a scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Starting at the Viking 42 the ‘Cats picked up six yards and faced a fourth-and-four. Luke Felkner hit Mike Washington on a bubble screen and the sophomore receiver fought off several tacklers and bulled his way for a six-yard gain. A personal foul on Lake Stevens and a Brent Ryan run put the ball on the 1-foot line. Felkner pushed it in from there and Ryan Fakkema hit the extra point.

Lake Stevens quickly responded. On third-and-17 it picked up 41 yards on a pass that set up a touchdown. The PAT snap was high and the holder was sacked; that made it 7-6 at the end of the half.

Oak Harbor started the second half with a quick drive, punctuated by Donovan Hunt’s 39-yard burst for a touchdown. Fakkema kicked the extra point and Oak Harbor led 14-6.

Then came the game’s turning point. With about 8 minutes left in the third quarter Lake Stevens moved 62 yards in seven plays – all runs – to the Oak Harbor 4 where they faced a third and two. Then came a head-scratcher. After bulldozing their way down the field on the ground, the Vikings attempted two passes that netted one yard and Oak Harbor took over at the 3.

Now Oak Harbor faced a third-and-nine at the 4. Hold, and the Vikings force Oak Harbor to punt from the end zone. Josh Higbee had other ideas. On a flanker screen, Felkner threaded the ball to Higbee in traffic and then the senior receiver slipped through two tackles and took off – 96 yards for the score. Fakkema’s kick made it 21-6 for the Wildcats with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter Lake Stevens cut into the lead with a five-play 44-yard drive that took less than a minute. The pass for the extra points was good. It was now 21-14 with 7:05 left.

Oak Harbor was three-and-out and Lake Stevens had the momentum. Not for long.

After one first down, the Vikings suffered a sack that resulted in a fumble. They did recover, but the play lost 16 yards back to their 22. Two incomplete passes and a short scramble turned the ball over on downs.

The Wildcats took possession with about 2:30 left at the 22. The Vikings burned their time outs, but with third-and-two Ryan battled for nine yards and the first down. On the next play he took it in from eight yards out. Another Fakkema PAT finished the scoring with 1:36 left.

Felkner ended up 9-20 for 138 yards. Ryan rushed for 73 yards on 15 carries.

Now the focus turns to Marysville-Pilchuck and its powerful running game. The Tomahawks went undefeated during the regular season last year and are one game from duplicating that feat.

M-P is led by the league’s top running back, Austin Denton, who has piled up 1,393 yards – almost twice as many a the next highest back. He is averaging 10.5 yards a carry and has scored 16 TD’s. Teammate AJ Kvangnes is fourth in the Wesco North in rushing with 577 yards.

The Tomahawks rarely throw. Zack Hansen has completed just seven of 34 passes in eight games.

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