Sports & Rec

Eastlake Wolves’ bid for the state title comes to an end in final-second loss to the Graham-Kaposwin Eagles

Published by
Holly Heitsch Hoyt

The Eastlake Wolves held on until the last second in their state semifinal game against the Graham-Kaposwin (GK) Eagles on Saturday, Nov. 25.  

During the Wolves’ first possession, the Eagles grabbed the ball with a well-timed interception and scored the first touchdown of the game for a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. With 4:51 left, the Wolves worked hard to out-maneuver the first-ranked Eagles but came up short and were forced to punt. Fortunately, the Eagles were held to one touchdown for the quarter due to strong defense from Kai Brown, who batted away a long bomb, and a momentum-changing stop for a 5-yard loss by Colby Johnson, keeping the Wolves in the game. 

The Eagles had the ball to open the second quarter on the 11-yard line for second-and-goal. While the Wolves held the line, keeping them from scoring a touchdown, the Eagles were close enough to add to the score with a field goal for the 10-0 advantage. 

With more than 11 minutes remaining in the half, Eastlake clawed their way down to the Eagle end zone with five first downs, including a slant to Kade Haroldsen for a 5-yard gain and short completions to Marcus Angiuli and RJ Abedi. Grady Woodward punched into the end zone to put the Wolves on the board and close the gap, 10-7.  

As the Eagles worked their way back to the other end of the field, Woodward stepped up with a timely and much-needed interception for the Wolves. With 4:28 remaining in the second quarter, Jack Edmunds advanced the Wolves on multiple carries to within striking distance. With just 40 seconds remaining, Landon Renfroe found Haroldsen in the end zone for the go-ahead Wolves touchdown and a 14-10 lead to finish the half. 

The Eagles came back fighting in the third quarter with a new strategy that included a floating lob to Gunner Stinson. Another pass to Noah Flores in the end zone flipped the lead, 17-14, Eagles.  

Still in the fight with 6:32 left in the quarter, the Wolves worked their way downfield. With four first downs on their next possession, including a 29-yard catch by Angiuli, the Wolves were once again in field goal range. The always-consistent Alex Dreher easily put the ball through the uprights for a 33-yard field goal and a 17-17 tie. 

With the game tied to open the final quarter, the pressure was on–and both teams were determined to win. The Eagles scored early in the quarter to claim the 24-17 lead with more than nine minutes left to play.  

The Wolves pushed ahead, once over the 50-yard line, with an opportune scramble from Renfroe for a quick 15-yard pickup, as well as a surprise hook and ladder to Edmunds that came up just short of a first down. With the game on the line, the Wolves took the risk on fourth down. Renfroe scrambled out of the pocket and found Woodward in the end zone with a bullet shot for a spectacular completion between two defenders for the 24-24 tie. 

Running down the clock, the Wolves held the Eagles to four fruitless downs only to have the same result on their next possession.  

The game came down—quite literally—to the last second. As the Eagles fought to reach field goal range, the clock ran down to one second—just enough time for a single kick. Eagles’ kicker Aidan Skolrud sent the ball soaring through the uprights for a 3-point win, 27-24, and a heartbreaking loss to end Eastlake’s bid for the state title. 

Eastlake finished the 2023 season with an impressive 6-0 league record for first place in their division and an 11-2 overall record for third in the state rankings. 

Holly Heitsch Hoyt

Holly is the Sports Editor of the Sammamish Independent. Holly grew up enjoying a variety of sports including gymnastics, volleyball, baseball, softball, track, and soccer, and later in life took up kickboxing, taekwondo and arnis. Eventually, she became an instructor in all three sports. Holly was born in Pullman but graduated from the University of Washington. She moved to Sammamish more than 20 years ago, and all three of her children went to Eastlake High School (one is still there).

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