Football runs out of time in Sultan

Though fresh off a big win over Granite Falls at their homecoming the week before, the Falcon football team didn’t have quite enough time to pull off another victory Friday when they visited Sultan.

Facing the Turks on their home field in a Halloween matchup, the Falcons stayed close early, played catch-up late, then ran out of minutes on the clock, losing by a touchdown 28-22.

Equally matched going into the game with 2-4 North Cascades Conference records, the two teams played like equals in the early going. After Sultan scored on its opening drive on a 4-yard run, the Falcons shut the Turks down. To start, junior Michael Lodell made a split-second switch from runningback to free safety when Falcon quarterback Travis Tornga was intercepted on the third play of South Whidbey’s opening drive. Lodell chased down the Sultan defender who made the pick, then punched the ball out of his hands before he could score. The ball rolled through the endzone, giving the Falcons possession.

South Whidbey’s next drive went better. Staying on the ground, the Falcons chewed up more than five minutes and about 80 yards before scoring on a 2-yard run by Tornga to take the game to 7-6.

In second half, however, that slim margin disappeared quickly. Sultan put up three straight touchdowns, eviscerating the South Whidbey defense with a 34-yard touchdown run, and scoring pass plays of 58 and 52 yards.

The Falcons came back in the fourth quarter when Tornga again punched the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard run, the completed a two-point conversion on a pass to senior receiver Nick Plastino. Then it was the defense’s turn to score. After pinning the Turks deep in their territory, the Falcons chased Sultan’s punter out of the end zone on a fourth-and-long play to notch a safety.

To make Halloween even more frightening for the Turks, the Falcons scored once more, this time on a 7-yard pass from Tornga to Plastino to take the score to 28-22 as the game clock wound down.

Fueling South Whidbey’s gains in the game were long kickoff returns of 78 yards by Lodell and 56 yards by senior Conley White.

Complete offensive statistics were not available from the South Whidbey coaching staff.

The 2-5 Falcons close their season Friday at home game against 6-1 Mount Baker.

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