With over 1,000 spectators in attendance on a soggy Friday evening, the Eastside Catholic Crusaders delivered their fifth win of the season in a close 28-27 victory over the Rainier Beach Vikings.
Rainier Beach put the first numbers on the board with a 61-yard drive in three plays for a touchdown by Scott’Tre Humphrey to go ahead 7-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Eastside Catholic had a chance to answer but the Viking defense, due to an interception by defensive back Nahmier Robinson, put a quick stop to the Crusader drive.
With closely matched defensive teams, the first quarter was an alternating series of foiled drives that seemed to go nowhere. But Eastside Catholic did not give in. With 2:06 left in the quarter, the Crusaders delivered a touchdown on a completion from Brady Mckelheer to Andrew Martorano. The extra point tied the game at 7 all.
Rainier Beach was up for the challenge and opened the second quarter with a much-needed successful drive for a touchdown in the first three minutes. Missing the extra point brought the score to 13-7 for a Rainier Beach upper hand once again.
The Viking defense seemed impenetrable up the middle and kept the Crusaders frustrated for several drives. With 4:42 left in the half, Eastside Catholic finally caught a break, sacking the Rainier Beach quarterback, Chance Guadiz, and forcing the Vikings to punt.
Mckelheer, on 2nd and 16, ran for a first down to give his team a much-needed momentum change. After a series of thwarted attempts to score, running back David Lene finally, on a wide left run, crossed into the end zone for the second Crusader touchdown, ending the first half with Eastside Catholic leading 14-13.
With both teams battling for the win, the third quarter did not disappoint. The Vikings opened with a kick-off return for a touchdown on a 69-yard run by Myles Daymon, adding 6 points to the board for a 19-14 Viking lead. Rainier Beach was unsuccessful in their 2-point conversion attempt.
Not to be outdone, the Crusaders answered with their own kick-off return for a 90-yard touchdown from Drew Sanidad to reclaim the lead 21-19. The pair of back-to-back touchdown returns happened within the first 40 seconds of the third quarter.
After a series of plays to inch their way down field, the Crusaders were finally within field goal range. Their attempt to widen the gap was unsuccessful when the kick veered right and several yards short, a missed 3-point opportunity.
Rainier Beach would not make the same mistake. Persistent drives, which included three first downs, resulted in a rushing 4-yard touchdown on a carry by Humphrey to bring the score to 25-21, Rainier Beach. This time, the Vikings 2-point conversion was successful, giving them a 6-point lead.
With just under 4 minutes left in the quarter, the Crusaders refused to be deterred. After failed drives by both teams, Rainier Beach punted to Eastside Catholic. Again, the Crusaders added to the board with their second kick-off return for a touchdown when Drew Sanidad ran his second touchdown of the game, helping the Crusaders regain a 28-27 lead.
With impeccable defense from both teams, the clock simply ran out. The Vikings continued to hit hard, including four quarterback sacks in a row. Unfortunately for Rainier Beach, an untimely fumble from Humphrey on their final drive gave Eastside Catholic the advantage they needed. The Crusaders recovered the ball with minutes left in the game.
The game ended with Eastside Catholic, up by one, taking a knee to run out the clock and bringing home the tight homecoming victory.
Eastside Catholic (5-1) will host Ballard (2-5) on Friday, Oct. 22 at 7:00 p.m., their final game of the season.