Lodell, Falcons run wild

The entire Falcon offensive line turns out to congratulate junior running back Michael Lodell after he scored his fourth touchdown in the first half of Friday night
The entire Falcon offensive line turns out to congratulate junior running back Michael Lodell after he scored his fourth touchdown in the first half of Friday night's game against Blaine.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Only the bench could prevent Michael Lodell from running touchdowns Friday night.

In South Whidbey's first North Cascade Conference game of the season, the junior runningback likely smashed the school's rushing record in front of his hometown crowd, slamming out 266 yards and four touchdowns in two quarters of play as the Falcons beat Blaine 44-7.

Had Falcon coach Mark Hodson not wanted to conserve his top offensive star for future games and had him sit out the second half, there was no telling what damage Lodell might have gone on to do.

"I might have gotten the state record," said the 5-foot, 10-inch, 170-pound runningback this week.

After taking a pounding in their season opener a week earlier against Port Townsend, the Falcons -- largely thanks to Lodell -- did everything right against the Borderites Friday. Getting plenty of running room from the offensive line, Lodell opened the game with a 45-yard touchdown run on the Falcon's first possession. Minutes later, the Falcons went up 13-0 when Lodell took a ball pilfered on the kickoff plays earlier by Jerod Mendoza on a 35-yard ramble into the end zone.

Though Blaine came back with a touchdown of their own on one of the few passes thrown on the night, the score only got them more misery. On the ensuing kickoff, Lodell grabbed the ball and ran untouched for 75 yards and yet another TD to take his team to 20-7. And that was just the first quarter.

The Falcons added three more scores in the next quarter, the first on an 11-yard, right-side run by Lodell that had him taking his hardest hit on the night -- the hit of his body on the ground as he leapt around defenders to land just inside the end zone corner marker.

On the team's next drive, senior quarterback Travis Tornga tossed a 35-yard TD pass to senior Nick Plastino on the team's longest pass play on the night. For the game, Tornga was 3-of-6 in the air for a total of 42 yards.

Finishing out the half, Tornga pulled off one of the longest runs that could actually be considered a quarterback sneak. With the line clearing the way, Tornga shot six yards up the middle and squirted through to just get the ball over the goal line.

In the second half, the Falcons prolonged Blaine's pain only one series longer. On their first possession of the half, South Whidbey depleted the clock, eating up eight minutes over 16 plays before junior Michael Osburn jammed home the team's last touchdown of the night on a short run.

"You couldn't have asked for a better situation," said coach Hodson of the long drive.

For the remainder of the game, South Whidbey ran its second string against Blaine. The bench players didn't score any points, but they did not allow any, either.

Key in the victory, Hodson said, was the ability of the Falcons' offensive line to push back the Borderite defense on every play to give Tornga and Lodell to set up. Tornga used Lodell almost exclusively as his ball carrier, handing off to him 33 times on the night.

Hodson also credited the team's defense for its near-shutout performance. Distinguishing himself on that side of the ball was the senior Mendoza, who made both the first-quarter kickoff recovery and an interception later in the game.

Next up for the Falcons will be a non-conference home game Friday against Kings.

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