SNOQUALMIE – The Mount Si Wildcat football team moved one step closer to an outside chance at the playoffs with a 37-14 pasting of the Newport Knights last Friday.
The homecoming game found the two teams locked at 14 points each as they headed into the locker room at halftime, but the second half was all Mount Si. Mount Si racked up 486 offensive yards with Brandon Yakaboski rushing for 214 yards on 31 carries. The Wildcat defense, led by Brian Olson with 5 1/2 solo tackles and a sack, stuffed the Newport running game and eliminated any passing game.
Mount Si was the first to score in the game after a perfect pass was thrown from quarterback Rollin Smith to the outstretched arms of Erik Alexander. The first play of the possession pushed Mount Si to the Newport 11-yard line. Yakaboski moved the ball inside the 1 but a technical penalty on the Wildcats pushed them back to the 16. From there, Smith found Alexander again in the corner for a touchdown. With Gibson Bardsley’s extra point, the score was 7-0 with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcat special teams gave Mount Si another chance at the end zone on the next play. The Newport kick returner fumbled the ball and Michael Ushler fell on it at the Newport 18-yard line. Unfortunately, the Wildcat offense stalled and Bardsley’s field goal attempt bounced off the upright. The ball turned over to Newport on the 20-yard line.
Newport answered with a touchdown of its own with two minutes left in the first quarter to tie the game. They then tried an onside kick, but Mount Si recovered on their own 45 to start the next series. The Wildcats drove the field, but once again Bardsley’s field goal attempt fell short. The Knights pulled ahead for the only time in the ball game with 3:45 left in the second quarter. With the extra point, they led 14-7, but the lead was short lived.
Mount Si started with great field position after Daniel Reeves returned the kick to near midfield. Sean Bothell hauled in a sideline pass from Smith to move to the Newport 40, followed by another pass to Alexander to get inside the 10. From there, Yakaboski pounded his way up the middle for the score. Bardsley added the extra point and the score was tied at 14 each. Bardsley would have one more shot at a field goal near the end of the second quarte,r but it was blocked and both teams headed to the locker room tied at 14.
In the second half, the Wildcats went to their bruising ground game. Runs by Yakaboski and Eric Forslin pushed Mount Si toward the end zone. The drive stalled and Bardsley added a field goal from 17 yards out with 8:28 left in the third to make the score 17-14.
Keith Keller was instrumental in stuffing the inside game of Newport. The Wildcat linebacker was solid in watching the Newport running backs. The defense would give the Wildcat offense several more opportunities in the second half.
Continuing with their ground game and an occasional pass to loosen up the defense, Mount Si moved down the field. With four minutes left in the third quarter, Yakaboski found the end zone. Bardsley added the extra point and the score was 24-14 in Mount Si’s favor.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Knights fell short of a first down on fourth down and the ball turned over to Mount Si. A pass to Cory Lindberg and a run by Yakaboski set up another perfect pass to the corner from Smith to Alexander for the touchdown. The extra point missed the uprights but Mount Si held a 30-14 lead with 6:57 left in the game.
After stuffing any Newport offensive drive, the Wildcats offense once again marched down the field. A pass play tipped by a Newport defender fell into the arms of Tyler Littlejohn for what appeared to be a touchdown, but a penalty negated the score. That didn’t stop the momentum, though, as a run by Forslin from 2 yards out with 4:59 left in the game added another Wildcat score. Bardsley’s kick was good for a final score of 37-14.
“This team continues to show character,” said coach Charlie Kinnune. “We may not be going to the playoffs, but from an educational standpoint, the playoffs are not as important. What is important is how much I learn from these guys. They bounced back after the tough Bellevue loss and they bounced back after the tough Liberty loss. They could have thrown up their hands, but no, two weeks, two wins, because we want to go down with the great teams of the past.”
Mount Si plays Mercer Island, at Mercer Island on Friday at 7:30 p.m. With a Wildcat win, and if Issaquah can beat Liberty, there would be a three-way tie for the second playoff spot, necessitating a tie-breaker early next week. With Bellevue having lost to Issaquah last week, and if Newport can beat Bellevue, there would be a five-way tie for the two playoff spots, necessitating a tie-breaker early next week.
With this potentially being the last game of the season, Wildcat fans are an important part of the game. Coach Kinnune asked that fans pack the Mercer Island stadium.