Eastlake dominates Curtis in play-in game for state playoffs
Eastlake continued its undefeated streak Friday night with an overwhelming 49-14 victory at home over the Curtis Vikings, a non-conference school from University Place near Tacoma.
The Wolves took command of the game from the very beginning with a lopsided, high-scoring first quarter. Revving up the action, Eastlake running back Nathaniel Birchfield received the kickoff and surged to the 40-yard line. A pass from quarterback Parker Barrysmith to wide receiver Will Eaton brought the ball down field to the Curtis 40-yard line. Eastlake scored when running back Blake Borup crossed into the end zone on a rushing touchdown up the left side to put the Wolves on the board and get the momentum started.
Thanks to a strong Eastlake defense with middle linebacker Harry Reid taking down Viking wide receiver Lyndon Tanoa on the second down for a one-yard loss, the Vikings went nowhere fast. A quick 3-and-out gave possession back to the home team.
Combined efforts by Borup and running back Jack Peterson pushed the ball to the Vikings 18-yard line. Now in the red zone, wide receiver Noah Weintraub finished the onslaught with a rushing touchdown on a slant for a 14-0 Eastlake advantage.
With a series of frustrating downs, the Vikings met a determined Eastlake defense that allowed no gain on the possession, leaving a frustrated Curtis offense to take a risk. The Vikings attempted a fake punt that ultimately failed when linebacker Carter Thompson tackled the runner, giving the ball back to the Wolves on the Curtis 46-yard line.
With Eastlake in possession once again, a pass to Weintraub to the 36-yard line and a carry by Barrysmith to the 18-yard line on consecutive downs put Eastlake in scoring position. Seconds later, a touchdown pass on a slant to Eaton and a successful extra point further padded the 21-0 score with 3:32 left in the quarter.
A fumbled punt return gave Curtis the ball on the 4-yard line. Another quick end of possession on downs due to an impenetrable defense from defensive line Owen Commes and linebacker Griffin Miller meant that the Curtis kicker would have to make up ground with a long punt to the Wolves. But it was not meant to be, and the Wolves took possession around the 30-yard line.
With Eastlake back in the red zone on one play on the punt return from Eaton, the Vikings found themselves defending their goal on the 5-yard line. A short pass to Peterson, almost allowing him to walk in with no coverage, finished the first quarter with a 28-0 lead for the Wolves.
The second quarter was more bad news for Curtis. Though they managed to reach the 18-yard line after a series of downs with excellent offense from quarterback Rocco Koch and wide receiver Lyndon Tanoa, a fumble caught by linebacker Logan Eller found Eastlake with an unexpected possession that thwarted a chance at scoring for the Vikings.
Before being tackled by defensive back Braden Betteridge, a successful connection from Barrysmith to Eaton set the ball at the Curtis 48-yard line. Carries from Borup, Kistner, and Peterson helped put the Wolves in scoring position once again. From the 5-yard line, a short touchdown pass from Barrysmith to a defender-draped Weintraub on a diving catch to the right side put an additional 6 on the board for Eastlake, plus the extra point. The Wolves’ lead now increased to 35-0 with 6:53 remaining in the second quarter.
The Vikings capitalized on a Wolves mistake when Will Eaton fumbled the ball on the punt return and Curtis recovered on the 28-yard line. Unfortunately for the Vikings, after a series of downs, the ball was intercepted by safety Cole Hunt to give control back to the Wolves.
Eastlake’s usual suspects — Miller, Weintraub, Kistner, and Eaton — then chewed up the field. The Wolves found themselves at the 9-yard line with 1:07 left in the half. On a quick pass to the end zone, Barrysmith found an undefended Eaton up the middle for another 6 points for the home team. The Wolves led with an overwhelming 42-0 difference at the half.
Throughout the third quarter, no scores were made.
Not to be humiliated in a shutout, the Vikings fought to get on the board in the fourth quarter. With 9:48 on the clock, Curtis was finally in the Eastlake red zone. Koch spearheaded the Vikings’ assault and managed to reach the Eastlake 10-yard line where he scored a rushing touchdown, earning his team’s first 6 points. With the extra point, the Vikings were finally on the board, 42-7.
Not to be bested, Eastlake answered in the next possession. With 5:04 left on the clock, Cole Hunt, now at quarterback, handed off to Birchfield, who broke through the middle and ran up the right side for a 51-yard rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 49-7. Alex Dreyer kicked for the extra point.
With 4:23 left in the game, Curtis attempted one last push. A completed pass to Baker put the Vikings in Eastlake territory on the second play of the series, just over the 50-yard line, for a Curtis first down. Koch, after bouncing off his own teammate and several Eastlake defenders, ran for the end zone only to be pushed out of bounds by Westmoreland. A face mask penalty on Eastlake put the Vikings inside the 10-yard line with 3:10 left to play. Despite an aggressive Eastlake defense, Tanoa managed to score a 5-yard rushing touchdown, adding one more score for the Vikings to finish the game.
Barrysmith ended the night 17 of 21, throwing for 184 yards and 5 touchdowns.
With this victory, Eastlake qualifies for the state playoffs, which start next Friday. Notably missing for the Wolves was running back Michael Lester, who was out with a knee injury.
Eastlake’s (10-0) next playoff opponent will be Eastmond (8-2) from East Wenatchee. The game will take place Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m. at home.