The expressions on the faces of South Whidbey sophomore quarterback Wesley Crain and senior receiver Connor Antich after the game said it all: The Falcons’ 49-14 Homecoming loss to Sultan on Monday night at Waterman’s Field hurt.
And it wasn’t from bumps and bruises.
“Being here three years, I’m just hungry and it just sucks, you know,” Antich said. “All I can do is give my best effort.”
“I don’t know how to put it in words,” Crain added.
It was another disappointing finish in what has been a tough season for South Whidbey. The Falcons are 0-7 overall and 0-4 in the Cascade Conference. The team has just 14 players; team rosters are usually in the 40-50 range.
“It hurts, because we’re close on a lot of things,” second-year head coach Michael Coe said. “You just kind of roll your eyes because you want it so bad for them. It’s tough. We’ve got to a find way to fight through that and make plays.”
South Whidbey’s game was originally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14, but stormy weather and a loss of power in the South Whidbey School District forced it to be postponed. Their opponent, the Turks (6-1 overall, 3-1 in league) jumped out to a 13-0 lead with 2:45 left in the first quarter, following an interception thrown by Crain. His intended receiver — junior Hunter Ewart — slipped on wet grass. The Turks capitalized on the turnover when senior quarterback Andy Sam rushed 20 yards for a touchdown.
Then some magic happened for the Falcons.
What began as a screen pass on first and 10 from the 50 yard line transformed into the Falcons’ biggest play of the night. After managing to escape the pocket from a Sultan blitz, Crain’s leg was grabbed by a Turk defender. But, just when it looked liked he would be sacked, he flipped the ball to Antich who took off running for the end zone. He dodged one defender by juking to his right and evaded two more defenders moments later, all while keeping his momentum headed for the end zone. The 50-yard pass-and-catch ended with Antich diving near the right pylon for a touchdown with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
The play was frustrating to think about in hindsight for Antich.
“We’ve got guys with talent,” Antich said. “It’s just an execution thing, guys knowing their assignments and guys giving effort.”
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the big play was short-lived. Turk quarterback Alex Perrigo completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Errett Turner following a kickoff return into Falcon territory and three rushing plays. With the score, Sultan went ahead 20-6 with 10:53 left in the half.
Things got worse when a high snap went over the head of the Falcons’ punter and led to a safety. The Turks tacked on two additional scores before halftime.
The rest of the Falcons’ night, offensively, was plagued by sacks and penalties. They could ill-afford mistakes as they attempted to mount a comeback.
“We’re outplaying ourselves,” Crain said. “We’re making mistakes that we can correct. If that gets going, we’ll be a better football team.”
The Falcons scored their second touchdown of the night when Antich rushed for a 3-yard score with two minutes remaining in the game.
Though disappointed, Antich found consolation in his team’s effort.
“I was proud of a lot of guys giving effort,” Antich said. “That’s the biggest thing I’m personally focused on. We got nothing to lose. I was proud of how some guys went all out.”
South Whidbey played Granite Falls on Friday night after The Record’s deadline. The Falcons’ final home game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28 against Cedar Park Christian.