By Quint Turner
The Mavericks scored touchdowns on two of their first three plays and for a while, it looked to be enough to win the 3A state football playoff match-up against Mercer Island. But following an injury to quarterback Jeff Lindquist in the second quarter, backup Brian Higgins came in and led the Islanders to a remarkable comeback that stopped just short of a victory, as Meadowdale hung on for a 20-17 win.
The first quarter was all Mavericks, after the Islanders started with the ball and were forced to punt. On the second play from scrimmage for the Mavs, a screen pass to Kyler Larsen went for 73 yards to the house to put Meadowdale up 7-0. The Islanders’ next drive ended on their 3-yard line after a false start penalty pushed them back. This set up great field position for the Mavericks, who started on the Islanders’ 45-yard line after a punt. On the first play, Giavani Shepard took a direct snap and ran 45 yards to add six more for the Mavs and it was 14-0 early.
The Islanders put together a drive late in the quarter from their own 9-yard line. Lindquist picked up five yards on a second and 3 from the 15. Then he ran for six more yards to convert another first down to the 36-yard line, and on third and 8, he threw a pass to Bernal Connor for 11 more yards and another first down. On third and 7, the Mavs had great coverage on the MI receivers, so Lindquist ran it himself to the 29 for a 17-yard gain. This moved the Islanders to the 11-yard line before the end of the quarter.
Facing fourth down on the 11-yard line to start the second quarter, the Islanders’ Alex Wood kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 14-3. The Mavs responded when Shepard ran 32 yards on a third and 7 all the way to the MI 46, then another 22 yards to put the ball on the 24. The Islanders took over on fourth down and 5, but not for long as Lindquist fumbled on third down and 4 and the Mavs recovered on the 30-yard line. Lindquist was injured during the play, but Meadowdale was unable to capitalize on the fumble and turned the ball back to the Islanders. Higgins came in for the injured Lindquist and ran eight yards on third and 7 to the 40- yard line. However, he ran out of time to get the Islanders in scoring position. and the Mavs led 14-3 at the break.
To start the third quarter, Mercer Island forced a three and out on the Mavs opening possession to get the ball on the Islanders’ 22-yard line. But they could not do anything against the stingy Mavs D, and on fourth and 3, a screen pass to Connor only went for two yards. On the Mavs’ next drive, Cameron Ogard picked off Marty’s pass at the 8-yard line, but the next play for the Islanders was a fumble by Higgins and it was recovered by the Mavs in the endzone.
The Mavs started on their 20-yard line with six minutes to play in the third quarter. On second and 11, Nolan Navlet caught a 37-yard pass to move the ball down to the 43-yard line. Newsom ran the ball in from the 1, but the extra point was missed, giving the Mavs a 20-3 lead. The Islanders started another drive from their own 5 with 2:38 to go in the third. Connor caught a 6-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 20-10 before the end of the quarter.
In the fourth, the Mavericks went three and out on their first drive and had to punt it away to the Mercer Island 36. The Islanders got down to the 8-yard line after a 36-yard catch by Nicky Sinclair, but they were stopped on third and 8. Wood lined up to kick a field goal to bring the Islanders within seven, but he hit it off the left post.
The Islander D forced another Maverick three and out to give MI a chance to score starting on the Meadowdale 38. On the first play from scrimmage in the fourth, the Mavs defense hit Higgins as he tried to connect at the goal line, and Jacob Hughes intercepted the pass, returning it 37 yards. Once again, the Mavs were forced to punt, leaving Islanders with 3:30 to get 10 points. The two teams traded possessions with no score, but on the next Islander possession Sinclair caught a touchdown pass to make it 20-17. MI’s onside kick was deflected out of bounds by a Maverick and the Mavs kneed the clock out to win 20-17.
Meadowdale moves on to the quarterfinals, facing Camas at Camas on Friday.
Sports correspondent Quint Turner is a sophomore at Meadowdale High School.