By Quint Turner
In a matchup between the undefeated No.5-ranked Meadowdale Mavericks and the No. 9 Oak Harbor Wildcats, the Mavs pounded the Cats with the three-pronged rushing attack of Giavani Shepard, Kyler Larsen and Kyle Newsom. The Mavericks put up 34 points — 20 of them coming in the second half while holding the Wildcats scoreless. All of it added up for the Mavs as they won 34-17 to take their perfect record to the postseason.
The first quarter looked promising for the Mavericks, as they started driving all the way to the Oak Harbor 39. But when quarterback Brian Marty came back to pass on second and 1, Casey Ferguson hit him from behind to cause a fumble that the Wildcats recovered. From there Oak Harbor quarterback Ian Kolste orchestrated a 49-yard drive to put the Cats up 7-0. The key play on the drive was Brent Ryan’s two tough yards on fourth and 1 to keep the drive going, and two plays later Josiah Miller ran 21 yards for the touchdown.
The Mavericks came back with another promising drive. Larsen got 11 yards on second and 5 and Shepard took 14 more yards to put the Mavs inside Cat territory. Larsen looked to get a 32-yard run on first and 10, but a holding penalty was called on the Mavs. On third and 20, the Mavs needed a huge play, and they got one when Ryan White made an amazing diving catch for 31 yards and the Maverick first down at the Oak Harbor 12. On the next play, Newsom ran over two defenders and into the endzone to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:56 left in the quarter.
On the second quarter’s first play, Shepard took a direct snap for 11 yards and the Mavs looked poised to score. But on third and 10, Marty was sacked by Dayne Herron to force the Mavs to punt to Oak Harbor. Starting from their own 21-yard line, the Cats converted a third and 3 and on the next play, Ryan ran 41 yards all the way to the Maverick 27-yard line for a first down. Miller took the first and 10 handoff and ran 14 more yards to the Maverick 7. But the Mavs only bent and did not break. The Cats were forced to kick a field goal, and they went up 10-7 when the 31-yard kick was good.
The Wildcat kickoff was returned by Larsen 38 yards up to the Maverick 48, but the Mavs had to punt the ball back after coming up short on third down. The Wildcats did no better and punted back, giving the Mavs great field position at the Oak Harbor 36. Larsen ran 31 yards to make it first and goal at the 5. Next play, Newsom ran over more defenders to score his second TD of the half, putting the Mavs up 14-10 with 2:30 to go. That was enough time for the Wildcats to come back and score as well. On third and 6 from their own 34, Ryan ran seven yards for an important conversion. With 1:10 to go, he got the ball to the Maverick 47 with a first-down run. On the next play, Miller ran 19 yards to put the ball on the Maverick 28. A pass to Michael Washington connected for 12 more yards. With time running down in the half, a pass to Washington was tipped by the Mav’s Josiah Evans but rather than fall incomplete it miraculously popped up into the air and was caught by Washington, making it 17-14 at half.
In the second half, Oak Harbor started with the ball, but after a few first downs, the Cats punted to the Mavericks. The Mavs started on their own 34-yard line after an offsides penalty was called against Oak Harbor to make it first and 5. Shepard picked up eight yards and a first down to the 41-yard line. On third and 6, a slant to Tyler McGuire went for eight important yards and a first down. From the Oak Harbor 44-yard line, Marty had a lot of time to throw on second and 6, but he was feeling all kinds of pressure from the pass rush. Despite this, he scrambled away and found Larsen wide open for a 44-yard touchdown pass making it 21-17. And the Mavs held on to that lead for the rest of the game.
Oak Harbor still had some tricks to try to get back into the game. On fourth and 11 on their own 26 for the Wildcats, their punter/ running back Miller faked a punt and took off running. But an incredible pursuit from Corwin Perkins brought him down for a nine-yard loss and set the Mavs up on the Oak Harbor 17. After Shephard got the ball inside the 1 on another direct snap, Newsom scored his third TD of the game from one yard out to make it 28-17 Meadowdale with 2:38 to play in the quarter.
Down 11 with little time left, Oak Harbor had to start taking some chances. On third and 12 from their own 43-yard line, Kolste overthrew Washington and the ball was intercepted by Evans at the MHS 21.
The Mavericks punted back to Oak Harbor, who started on their 46-yard line with a drive that could either put the Wildcats back in the game or out completely. On third and 19 on the first set of downs, after a sack by Larsen, a pass to Peter Franssen was knocked away by Dustin Diamond, but pass interference was called to keep the drive alive. On second and 6 on the MHS 42, Meadowdale was called for a personal foul after stopping the Wildcats running backs, putting the Wildcats at the MHS 24. On third and 6 from the 20, a pass to Washington was over his head, and then on fourth and 6, a pass to Miller went over his head to allow MHS to take over again with 8:53 to go in the game.
On the Mavs own 30-yard line on third and 3, Shepard took a pitch 45 yards to the Oak Harbor 25-yard line for a big first down. Then Larsen ran for nine yards on second and 1, and Newsom scored his fourth touchdown of the game from 12 yards out as he bowled over Wildcat defenders to make it 34-17 with 5:00 to play. And that would basically put the Wildcats out of the game as the Mavs closed down the offense one last time before kneeing out the clock to end the game.
The Mavs finish the regular season undefeated at 9-0 (7-0 in conference) and the Wildcats finish 8-1 (6-1 in conference). Both teams wait for Friday’s games to be completed before finding out who they play next in the post season.
Sports correspondent Quint Turner is a sophomore at Meadowdale High School.
Photo by Char Blankenship — these and more available for order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.