MONROE – For the Falcons, it was a far cry from the previous week. Seven days after destroying Balboa in the Bay Area, Woodinville was in Monroe – and trailing by double digits heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Falcons rose up in that final stanza tallying two touchdowns en route to a thrilling 21-20 win over the Bearcats.
“I absolutely loved the way our guys responded,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “They never stopped believing, right? They showed resilience, they never showed any doubt they could come back. They showed no panic. For a non-conference game and trying to make a run for postseason play, it was awesome to see what we saw tonight.”
Woodinville improved to 2-0 on the season, while Monroe fell to 1-1.
From the opening kickoff, Monroe’s home crowd was raucous and festive; their grandstand a sea of orange and black. And from the get-go, the Bearcats carved up the Falcon defense, led by running backs Blake Rybar and Gavin Newton.
On Monroe’s second possession, Rybar rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a 7-0 lead. On the next possession, the Bearcats were back in the red zone. But on 4th-and-2 from the 16-yard line, quarterback Gio Fregoso was sacked for a five-yard loss.
With 6:35 left in the second quarter, Monroe lined up to punt. Woodinville’s Isaac Fuiten roared in to block it, and Jaden Bolibol recovered on the Bearcat 15-yard line. Two plays later, Falcon running back Joey Johnson blasted through a big hole to score a 9-yard touchdown run. The PAT knotted the score 7-7.
Monroe took a 13-7 lead into halftime, thanks to a 3-yard run by Gavin Newton. The extra point was blocked.
Monroe seemed to take full control in the third quarter as the Bearcats drove 64 yards in 11 plays, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Newton.
But on the first play of the fourth quarter, the tide suddenly turned when Woodinville quarterback Noah Stifle hit Jack Diskin with a 22-yard strike. Blake Glessner’s extra point trimmed the deficit to 20-14.
Monroe drove deep into Woodinville territory, but their field goal attempt was blocked by Cage Schenck.
The Falcons proceeded to drive 80 yards in five plays. Stifle faked a hand-off to Joey Johnson and found senior Drew Lozano all alone down the right sideline. The 5'8" senior hauled in the pass and raced 35 yards to pay dirt with the Woodinville sideline and Falcon fans screaming with delirious joy.
“I came out of the backfield, saw a little crease,” Lozano said. “Our guys [were] doing their job, play-action pass, they bit, and that was that! We game planned for it and it felt great!”
The Bearcats would mount one final drive into Falcon territory. But a QB sneak on fourth down was stuffed at the 28-yard line. Woodinville ran out the clock to capture the thrilling win.
"It took everything we had to get a W," coach Maxwell said. "They (Monroe) did a nice job with their O-line - they have some big boys up front. For us, we had some technical [issues] upfront. We gave them some run lanes and we weren’t fitting the way we should be."
The night could not conclude without highlighting Joey Johnson. As of this writing, the stats were not available. But the 5’7” 180-pound senior had at least 175 yards rushing on the night.
“Joey is kind of everything we’ve talked about with our team,” Maxwell said. “Just the grit and a guy where it doesn’t matter the situation. He’s all-out, all-go, big heart runs way bigger than he is. You can’t say enough good things about Joey.”
“I’ve got a good group of guys in front of me, and we’ve got good chemistry,” Johnson said. “The guys up front are the ones who start it all.”
Woodinville hits the road to Edmonds-Woodway Friday. The game gets underway at 5 p.m.