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Falcons stay perfect with come-from-behind win
It was their first real test. And they passed.
The South Whidbey football team, down 21-13 at the half, roared back with 29 unanswered points to slice up the Sultan Turks 42-28 Friday night.
The Falcons are undefeated at 7-0 and hold the number-two spot in the Cascade Conference behind Archbishop Murphy. South Whidbey has now outscored its opponents 267-64 this season.
But the road game against Sultan was the first time the Falcons had experienced slipping behind.
Things began on a high note for South Whidbey, though. The Falcons stopped the Turks first drive, then scored on a short 5-yard run by running back Levi Sawyers. Sultan evened things up on a pass play into the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball hit South Whidbey outside lineman Tyler Kinser and Sultan recovered to score again.
On the fifth play of their second offensive series and the score 14-7, Sawyers fumbled and the Turks capitalized by scoring again to take a 21-7 lead.
It was a sweep and they did a good job stripping the ball from me, Sawyers recalled. We were making some offensive mistakes for the first two quarters.
The Falcons scored again on a short 8-yard run from fullback Hunter Hawkins but missed the extra point and headed to the locker room behind 21-13 at the half.
The Falcons saw they were in trouble, but they also knew why.
We were playing against ourselves and not to our potential, Hawkins said.
It was one of those games that creates a certain level of stress in a head coach, Falcon coach Mark Hodson said.
But at the half, four of my players (Kyle Hoch, Sawyers, Hawkins and Parker Barnett) came to me and demonstrated a real understanding of how and why the game is played.
Their idea was a play called Green 4 Lead which required a few minor changes in the line-up. Simple in concept but difficult in execution, the play uses running backs moving the ball straight ahead, lulling the defensive line into the full frontal attack before hitting them with a quick play action pass.
Falcon linebackers Joe Kinser and Trapper Rawls agreed to switch positions on the line to help make Green 4 Lead a viable option.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, however, the team got a gift before it needed Green 4 Lead.
The Falcons were energized when Hawkins intercepted the opening kickoff and ran it 85 yards for a touchdown.
That changed the whole complexion of the game, Hodson said.
Behind the Green 4 Lead play, the Falcons maintained possession for a total of 15 minutes in the last two quarters. They scored 29 points on short runs from Hawkins and a 35-yard catch from wide receiver Nick Tenuta.
With less than a minute left, the score was 42-21.
We were trying hard to run down the clock, Hoch said. We mixed our inside runs with a pass play and caught em off guard.
With 28 seconds left, Sultan made its final effort and scored but it was too little, too late.
It took discipline and focus for these guys to come back and all of us are very proud, Hodson said.
Sawyers ran the ball 34 times for 208 yards. He also had one reception for 13 yards and a touchdown.
Hawkins had 61 yards on 13 carries for three offensive TDs, plus one TD for the defense after his big interception.
Hoch completed eight-of-12 passes for 118 yards. Barnett had six catches for 82 yards.
At 7 p.m. this Friday, the team meets Cedarcrest (6-1) in Duvall, which beat Lakewood 47-30 last week.
The Falcons finish the regular season at home Oct. 26 against unbeaten ATM (7-0).
Hodson said the Red Wolves are in the same boat as South Whidbey.
They have seniors and juniors who have worked their way up to the varsity level, just as we do, Hodson said. Coach (Jason) Frederick and I knew wed have strong years.
South Whidbey remains in the seventh spot in the state 2A rankings in the latest Associated Press football poll Prosser, Tumwater and ATM lead the list.
Hodson has told his players that, with seven victories and their winning season goal accomplished, they must now win one of two remaining games to secure home field advantage for the crossover contest against an unnamed Northwest League opponent. The winner of that contest will move on to the playoffs.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.