August 28, 2008 · Updated 12:12 PM
M-P overcomes 13-point deficit to defeat powerhouse Lake Stevens
MARYSVILLE Our word of the game was believe. Believe, believe, believe, said senior defensive tackle Jamie Cruz.
Its the best explanation for how an underdog M-P football team overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat a previously unbeaten Lake Stevens team 20-13 in their homecoming game Sept. 28.
The 4-0 Vikings were clear favorites, but with confidence in themselves and their coach, the Tomahawks played an inspiring game.
Lake Stevens looked dominating throughout the first quarter. The entire Lake Stevens team was visibly taller than the Tomahawk team, an advantage the Vikings used to good effect seniors Isaac Molstre and Clark Ferrucci plowed through the Marysville defense on the way to a 7-0 lead.
Six seconds into the second quarter, the Vikings scored again when Nick Baker connected with Dustin Adams in the end zone to go up 13-0.
Nonetheless, Marysville shook off the score.
On their next drive, the Tomahawks mixed up their run-heavy offense, as quarterback Denay Stell tried to convert on fourth down with a pass to Levi Cartas. Cartas dropped the ball, but the Tomahawk defense metaphorically picked it up, holding Lake Stevens to three and out.
And out of desperation came inspiration. The next drive was full of nail-biting plays. M-P converted on a fourth-and-one situation only to suffer a fumble not long after. But they recovered, and Stell scrambled to keep the drive alive.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Tomahawks found themselves in a fourth-down situation in Lake Stevens territory, but out of field-goal range. Cartas lined up on the right sideline and atoned for his earlier drop with a 29-yard reception in the end zone. Marysville was on the board, 13-6.
Some fine running by juniors Caleb Posey and Travis Sanderson put M-P in position to score again midway through the third quarter. Sanderson broke free to the 11-yard line and Posey to the one on the next play, setting up a run by Stell for another Tomahawk score.
Though still down by one, it suddenly seemed this was M-Ps game to lose.
Then, with 11 seconds left in the quarter, Lake Stevens Molstre broke free on a 40-yard run to the Marysville 30-yard line, in a play that stopped the hearts of many a Tomahawk fan.
But in an emotional yo-yo of a fourth quarter full of big plays, the M-P defense set the standard. Three plays later, Lake Stevens was facing fourth and one near the red zone. M-P got the stop, giving their offense the ball on their own 20-yard line.
A couple of plays later, Stell found senior wide receiver Joe Bray halfway down the field for a big catch until the referees called a penalty against the M-P offense, bringing ball back to the Tomahawk 10.
Failing to get the first down, M-P punted only to see the ball bounce off the Viking receiver. The Tomahawks recovered the fumble and the offense retook the field but before they could get a play off, the referees called another penalty against the Tomahawks, awarding the ball to Lake Stevens near the 50-yard line.
But the Tomahawks werent about to let the plays bring a halt to their date with destiny.
On the second down, inside linebacker Ryan Sterly came up with a big tackle to put Lake Stevens in a third-and-15 position. Once again, the M-P defense held.
Despite the heroics, the clocked continued to wind down. Still trailing 13-12 with about 4:30 left in the game, the Tomahawks found themselves facing fourth and 10, and it seemed their luck was about to run out.
M-P lined up to punt and short-snapped the ball to Devin Peterson. Rather than kick, the sometime QB lofted the ball downfield to Justin Freeman. They connected, setting up a 51-yard Stell-to-Posey pass for a touchdown with 3:09 left on the clock. A successful two-point conversion gave the Tomahawks their first lead of the game and the security of a touchdown advantage.
Lake Stevens worked their way to midfield, but with a minute left in the game, M-P defensive end Tannon Hillis came up with a sack that loosed the ball. Cruz recovered for the Tomahawks.
Even though they came with those big plays, we didnt get down. We stayed up, Cruz said, referring to Lake Stevens two early scores. That last drive we were tired, but we just gave it all we got. I thank my coach for that.
After the game, first-year coach Brandon Carson couldnt stop grinning.
Im ecstatic, he said. These kids play hard week in, week out. Its a great feeling for the kids and its a big turning point for our program.
Carson added that he was particularly impressed with the way the Tomahawk defense rose to the challenge.
They have a few guys who, when they touch the ball, can go the distance, he said. To contain them was a big deal.
But neither Cruz nor Carson said they were planned to do much celebrating after the win.
Im going to go home and go to sleep. I didnt get a whole lot planning for numbers 9 and 1, Carson said.