Wildcats redeem Bellevue loss

ISSAQUAH - Wildcat football proved to the rest of the league that their previous 4-1 record was no fluke. They added win No. 5 last Friday with a 40-23 drubbing of Issaquah, a team they had not beat since 2001.

The Wildcats used an aggressive, in-your-face ground game with fullbacks Brian Olson, Marshall Griffith and Eric Forslin pounding the middle while halfback Brandon Yakaboski danced his way around the Eagles' secondary.

Issaquah had to know it was going to be a difficult game when, on their first possession, their quarterback was sacked by Cary Purchase and Olson for a touchback. The Wildcat defense continued to dish out the punishment as Erik Alexander picked off an Issaquah pass after corner Sean Bothell tipped the ball. The Wildcats just missed getting into the end zone but Gibson Bardsley found the uprights in the form of a field goal with slightly more than five minutes left in the first quarter, the Wildcats led 5-0.

Issaquah answered with 3:06 left in the first quarter on a pass play. They added the extra point and took a 7-5 lead, one of the few leads they would enjoy in the game.

Mount Si came right back, though, in a demonstration of running talent. Yakaboski took the kickoff and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, dancing around Issaquah defenders as if they were standing still. The extra point by Bardsley made it a 12-7 game with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

Issaquah answered early in the second quarter with another touchdown, capped by a two-point conversion. The score and conversion gave them a 15-12 lead with 10:06 left in the second quarter.

Yakaboski started the Wildcats next drive, giving them great field position at the 40-yard line where quarterback Rollin Smith went to work. Big runs by Forslin pushed the Wildcats into Issaquah territory. Just when the middle closed up, Yakaboski picked his way around the end for another first down at the 20-yard line. He then followed the lead of his fullback and pounded the middle to move within one yard of the end zone. From there, Forslin shot up the middle behind a great offensive line surge and scored the touchdown. With the extra point, Mount Si took a 19-15 lead.

The Wildcat secondary had a great game batting down Issaquah passes. Michael Ushler, along with Bothell and Kyle Meuli, kept receivers in limbo.

As Issaquah did its best to move into Wildcat territory, Meuli played the perfect pick on a receiver and hauled in the interception. Several plays later, Olson went up the middle again for another touchdown. Bardsley added the extra point and the score was 26-15 as both teams headed for the locker room at halftime.

Issaquah started the second half with a bang as the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. But it would be the last score added to the scoreboard for the Eagles in the game.

Early in the third quarter, Mount Si quarterback Rollin Smith threw an interception but as the Issaquah defender began his jaunt down the field, Alexander punched the ball loose and Tyler Littlejohn fell on it for Mount Si. Alexander added another great catch later in the series and eventually a pass to Meuli from Smith in the corner of the end zone gave the Wildcats another touchdown. With the kick the score was 33-23 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Wildcat defense continued to plague the Issaquah quarterback. Olson notched a sack on the ensuing drive and Bothell eventually hauled in an interception to stunt the Eagles drive.

The third quarter continued with both teams shutting down the opponent's offensive drives. Luckily, the Wildcat punt game was strong as Littlejohn booted the ball deep into Issaquah territory several times. With the lights of their season fading fast, the Eagle offensive unit stepped it up a notch. They were forced to go for it on fourth-and-one at mid-field when Olson showed his speed, chasing down the Issaquah running back and pulling him down from behind for a loss. The ball turned over on downs to Mount Si with four minutes left on the clock.

The Wildcat offense wasn't done, though. Smith led the offense into Issaquah territory and with 1:59 left in the game he found Meuli in the corner for another Wildcat first down. With the gutsy call icing the win, Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune threw his headphones down and yelled "Game over."

"They had been biting hard on that wham and three back set," said Meuli after the game. "He came in and I beat him with speed."

Olson was also relishing the win.

"It was really exciting, working on staying outside," said Olson. "It was a good team win and a lot of fun tonight."

Kinnune could barely keep his excitement about the win in check.

"We had to get tough, they made it tough in there, but that's our game right now, not a lot of deception involved," said Kinnune. "We needed to pound and over the course of the game we thought we could come out on top."

The defense really stepped things up a notch and that first sack of the game set the tempo.

"We had to make sure nobody got behind us. They kept two backs in to protect and that sack in the first play put them in protection mode and took one guy out of the route," said Kinnune.

Kinnune was quick to point out the efforts of Forslin and Meuli in the game.

"Forslin is our toughest kid and has been for two years. He is the heart and soul of our team. He typifies our personality," touted Kinnune. "Meuli is one of the best athletes in the league and Rollin throws a really nice ball.

The late game corner touchdown pass call may have been risky, but Kinnune felt good about the decision to go for it.

"It was safe. If we didn't get it, no big deal. I felt it was a high-percentage play," he said.

Olson was also on the mind of the coach. "Brian is a guy that is classic football player. He finds the ball and hunts you down."

Mount Si takes on Interlake at home this Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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