The much anticipated annual rivalry game between the Eastlake Wolves and Skyline Spartans turned out to be a gritty, low-scoring affair, as the Wolves walked away victorious with a 9-6 win on Saturday.
Skyline brought the energy early, as Cameron Weir kicked things off with what appeared to be a return for a touchdown on the opening kick. Fortunately for the Wolves, it was called back due to holding. But the Skyline fire was not dampened as Weir and Luke Morgan caught a pair of 17-yard passes to move the Spartans into field goal range. Sean Lee kicked a 30-yard field goal, putting the Spartans on the board first, 3-0, with five minutes to go in the opening quarter.
The Wolves failed to respond with a quick three-and-out. A short punt coupled with a fair catch interference penalty put Skyline in prime position at the Eastlake 27-yard line. After a quintet of rushes by Josh Menold to move the Spartans to the goal line, a pair of run-stuffs gave the Spartans third and goal from the two-yard line. But the Eastlake defense held as Menold fumbled the handoff, and the Wolves recovered the ball to deny Skyline the scoring opportunity.
With the ball back in Eastlake possession, Marcus Angiuli ignited the home crowd into a frenzy with a spectacular leaping 36-yard reception. But it was not meant to be as the Wolves offense stalled with the first of many fourth down attempts coming up just short. The first quarter ended with no score for Eastlake and possession returning to Skyline to open the second quarter.
The Wolves were not discouraged and did not waste any time regaining control. Keeping the momentum going, two-way phenom Grady Woodward jumped up to snatch the ball from a Spartan wide receiver, returning it to the 31-yard line and prompting the crowd to chant his name for the next minute.
After two deep completions, Angiuli made his second splash play of the game, hauling in a pass from Landon Renfroe for a 40-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, but Eastlake snatched the lead, 6-3, with 10:20 left in the second quarter.
The Spartans next possession was unproductive, forcing the punt after four downs. On the first play of the Eastlake drive, Woodward made another crowd-pleasing catch, leaping over a defender and toe-tapping his way for a 35-yard advance. But the Wolves could not capitalize on the circus catch with a fourth-down screen pass batted down, giving Skyline the ball.
But the excitement of the first half was not over and Skyline brought the pressure with a pair of 20-yard and 9-yard catches by Jaxon Menold that put the Spartans in prime position to take the lead. With tensions mounting, Eastlake’s Carter Thompson came up with a timely fourth down sack, letting the Wolves regain possession and maintain their advantage.
After a 55-yard touchdown rush was negated on a holding penalty, Eastlake gradually pushed downfield, eating up the clock with an unproductive, time-consuming drive. An incomplete Hail Mary pass closed the first half with the Wolves up 6-3.
Eastlake received the second half kickoff and promptly turned the ball over on downs at midfield. The Spartans, reinvigorated after halftime, relied on Josh Menold to run the ball to the 16-yard line. Failing to cross into the end zone, the Spartans turned to Lee who drilled a field goal to tie the game, 6-6.
After back-and-forth possessions and a pair of punts, it appeared the Wolves had an unexpected opportunity when Woodward managed a much-needed interception, returning play to the Spartan 30-yard line. But the Spartan defense held, and the ensuing field goal was no good. The Spartans had the ball once again and the score remained tied at 6-6.
While the Skyline defense held, their offense could not break through, giving the Wolves another opportunity. Eastlake did not take it for granted this time and put a quality drive together for the first time since the beginning of the second quarter. Bryson Hodges caught a jump ball for a gain of 20 yards to put the Wolves in a good position for a long field goal. With the kick through the uprights, Eastlake regained the lead, 9-6, with 6:20 left in the fourth quarter.
With everything on the line, the Spartans had one final shot to win the game. On a critical third down, Josh Menold ran the ball and the clock down and managed to set Skyline up at midfield. With a pass completed for a 15-yard gain, Skyline was perfectly set up in field goal range.
The Spartan running game carried the offense down to the five-yard line. After a misfire on first down, Eastlake toughened up when it mattered most. With the pressure on Spartan quarterback Michael Grimmer, his tipped pass was intercepted by Eastlake’s Jack Edmunds in the end zone with just 20 seconds remaining. The Eastlake student section went berserk and the band played a raucous victory march. The Wolves came through with a clutch play to win their third game in a row, emerging as the only undefeated team from the game.
Skyline will look to bounce back against Mount Si on Friday, Sept. 22 at Skyline High School at 7:00 p.m.
Eastlake will aim to carry the momentum against Issaquah on Friday, Sept. 22 at Issaquah High School at 7:00 p.m.