Depending on which Viking ship you sailed in on, it was a good night and a bad night at Pop Keeney Stadium on Thursday.
The good for Lake Stevens — and it was really, really good: senior Christian Gasca returned back-to-back punts for touchdowns in a stunning 90-second span to push a five-point lead to 42-23 late in the third quarter. The Vikes from the north (3-0) went on to win the last non-league game of the season for both teams, 45-25.
The bad for Inglemoor (2-1): see above.
“Not sure I’ve seen that before,” 15-year Lake Stevens head man Tom Tri said of his senior co-captain’s exploits. “It’s funny, we kinda thought he was our secret weapon this year but after three touchdowns against Cascade and two tonight ... not sure we’ll be able to hide No. 85. anymore. He played like Superman.”
Gasca, at wide receiver, also made nine catches for 93 yards to go along with a handful of tackles at DB.
Inglemoor hadn’t given up a point in its two wins coming in, but a 60-yard opening kickoff return led to an early touchdown run by Lake Stevens’ quarterback Jake Nelson.
They responded in kind on its following possession: senior tailback Junior Vi broke for a 60-yarder and then scored from seven for the tie.
Willie Augustavo knocked in a 37-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead eight minutes in, but it would be Inglemoor’s last.
The locals attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by LS at midfield and the visitors were in business, scoring five plays later on a pass play to make it 14-10. They scored again on a 4th-and-one dive that went for a 15-yard touchdown amidst broken tackles to go up 21-10.
And then LS got cheeky, too: Their onside kick was unsuccessful at midfield and after fullback Davis Walker rumbled right down Broadway for 50 yards to the three, Vi punched it in to make it 21-17--with eight long minutes remaining in the first half.
After each squad exchanged turnovers and punts, LS’s Nelson kept the ball on a 1st-and-five, rolling right with a run/pass option. The senior co-captain turned the corner and broke at least four tackles — maybe five attempts — to score from 32 yards out — a spectacular run that deserves YouTube recognition — to make it 28-17 Lake with a minute left in a rock ’em —sock ’em first half.
But Inglemoor was not done. With 30 seconds on the clock the hometown Vikes scored on a 44-yard bomb up the right side from newly-inserted quarterback Brandon Edwards to Danny Larson — pretty as-you-please — and it was 28-23: 51 combined points on the board at the half and anyone’s game, with Inglemoor set to receive the second half kickoff.
The kick was received by junior Jake Jones, who was absolutely crunched by LS gunners to set a tone: the visiting Vikes came to play hard. Jones went down and stayed down — took his licking for the team before getting helped off by personnel — and Inglemoor managed a 17-play series, beset by three penalties and mixing quarterbacks, to turn it over on downs. Not a good sign.
It led to the punts to Gasca — one for 75 yards to the house and another for 45.
“Special teams ... penalties,” Inglemoor coach Frank Naish said. “We were right there in the first half and felt good about ourselves in the locker room. They dominated us at times but I liked that we kept battling. Our mood was good — we thought we might need to win this thing 60-59.”
They did not, and travel to Memorial Stadium in Seattle to play Ballard this Friday.