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UPDATE | SWHS loses seesaw battle to Cedarcrest
Though the South Whidbey football team was ahead at halftime, a coordinated ground game overpowered the Falcons, who lost 28-19 to the undefeated Cedarcrest Red Wolves Friday at home.
“Yeah, we had a hard time stopping their run,” said Falcon co-coach Mark Hodson. “But our guys fashioned a ‘bend-not-break’ defense for a goal line stand in the fourth against the top team in the conference, and I’m proud of that.”
The Falcons are 1-3 overall, Cedarcrest is 4-0.
The Red Wolves jumped out in front in the first quarter on a quarterback sneak for a touchdown, and the first period ended with Cedarcrest ahead 7-0.
The game settled into a defensive struggle until, with 2:17 left in the half, running back Henry Mead caught a Hunter Rawls pass for the first Falcon score. Rawls converted a point-after attempt with a sweep to the left for the conversion as the Falcons went ahead 8-7.
“We lined Henry up at the fullback position to fool them,” Rawls said. “We put two receivers on the other end and they didn’t catch on.”
Mead said it was simply a breakdown in coverage on the Red Wolves’ part.
“I wheeled to the left and caught Hunter’s perfect pass in the end zone,” he recalled. “It’s cool when a play works out as it was supposed to.”
Then, with 11 seconds left in the half, South Whidbey kicker TJ Russell booted a 30-yard field goal to make it 11-7 at halftime.
In the locker room, Falcon co-coach Andy Davis discussed pass protection and the running game, what had worked and what hadn’t.
“The guys were pretty excited and ready to go back to work,” Davis said.
“We felt awesome at the break,” Rawls said. “But we know now that they adjusted their game plan and, with a strong offensive line and a great running back, things came apart.”
Red Wolf Jacob Kreigbaum rushed for 209 yards on 23 carries for two touchdowns and Jansen Woelz had 84 yards on seven carries and a touchdown to help Cedarcrest “adjust.”
Late in the third period, Cedarcrest scored again and went ahead 14-11.
With five seconds on the clock, Mead again caught a Rawls pass, the conversion was good and the Falcons led 19-14.
But once in the third and again in the fourth, the Cedarcrest front dominated and the Red Wolves scored twice — notwithstanding a heroic Falcon goal-line stand with four minutes left on the clock.
The Red Wolves won 28-19, but they knew they’d been in a serious battle.
The opposing coach said each contest with South Whidbey is a real struggle.
“This is the sixth time we’ve played South Whidbey, and each game has been close and competitive,” said Red Wolf coach Jason Frederick.
“I admit to being surprised we fell behind. I think we got a little complacent and didn’t follow up our game plan fast enough.”
Falcon co-coach Andy Davis was pleased with the level of play by his team.
“We had a chance, it could have gone either way,” Davis said. “We played hard and I was pleased with our effort.”
Davis said it was difficult to sustain many long drives because the Red Wolves are very physical on the inside and are enjoying the rewards of having a senior offensive line.
“We were pretty disappointed and felt we could have won on the last drive if we’d been a little more creative,” Mead said. “But we would have had to play absolutely mistake-free football because they were very good.”
“Cedarcrest had a well-executed offense and they were able to penetrate our defense,” said defensive end Tyler Norris. “Not as much as they’d like, but enough.”
Linebacker Dustin Varney said the feeling in the trenches was intense.
“We were ahead, but then we made a few errors, like not reading the play properly, that helped them,” Varney said. “They were very good.”
Rawls completed 7 of 21 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Mead had 16 carries for 81 yards plus two pass receptions for 74 yards and two TDs.
On defense, Spalding and Dillon Parrick led tacklers with seven each, and TJ Russell caused a fumble and recovered it for a turnover. The Falcons caused seven tackles for a loss.