October 4, 2012 | volume 116, issue 24

Medical Lake’s defense paves road to win over Lakeside

Five turnovers, two goal line stands key to 20-7 Cardinals’ win

For a moment in the opening seconds of last Friday night’s Northeast A League football game in Suncrest there was the appearance that the Lakeside Eagles might be reprising their effort from 2011.

That was a 35-7 thrashing of Medical Lake in which the Cardinals turned the ball over six times.

But after quarterback Adam Paulson’s second pass of the game was intercepted, his defense came to the rescue, stopped the Eagles cold in just four plays and the Cardinals slogged it out for a tough 20-7 win moving them to 2-0 in league play and 5-0 overall.

“It feels great, everyone should try it,” head coach Wes Hobbs said. Hobbs has never had a team reach 5-0 before in his long coaching career.

Following the Eagles’ pick, the Cards’ Ian O’Brien recovered a Lakeside (1-2, 2-3) fumble on thrie first drive – the first of five turnovers on the night – and Medical Lake would go on to score on a Micah Tappero 7-yard run with 6:02 remaining in the opening quarter.

They’d never trail on the night after that, but it certainly wasn’t easy as the Cardinals had to withstand a pair of goal line stands. The first came on the Eagles’ first possession following Tappero’s touchdown.

Lakeside had a first and goal to go at the 3 inside the final three minutes of the first quarter but the Cardinals’ defense held and drove back out to midfield to earn breathing room.

“That’s what it’s going to take, we have to continue playing great defense,” Hobbs said.

A Paulson punt gave the ball to Lakeside at their own 20, but two plays later Roman Kissack’s interception and return to the 28 set up a short field drive, culminated by Tappero’s second score, a 2-yard run with 7:47 to play in the half. Seth Hansen’s second successful point-after kick made it a 14-0 game.

Hansen would end the Eagles’ next possession with an interception with 6:19 to go in the half but the ensuing drive went nowhere.

After Paulson was shaken up on a running play, he hit the perfect coffin-corner kick to the Lakeside one. A penalty, however, wiped out the punt and on the re-kick the Eagles got the ball on the 17. On the first play from scrimmage Tyler Howard raced 81 yards down the left sideline to cut it to a 14-7 game with four minutes left in the half.

Medical Lake then took the ball on a time-consuming drive to end the half with Hansen’s 28-yard field goal try sailing wide right.

“We had a meeting of the minds I would say at halftime and they came out and had a great defensive stand,” Hobbs said.

Lakeside’s opening drive of the second half stalled on a three-and-out and following a punt, Medical Lake would mount a nearly 6-minute drive that ended with Steven Velasquez’s 8-yard run with 3:57 to play in the third quarter. After the kick was blocked Medical Lake held a 20-7 lead.

The Eagles fared not much better the next time they had the ball as Eagles’ quarterback Keith Kovac was sacked on consecutive plays by the swarming play of Justin Hoffman and Kissack.

It only got worse for Lakeside in the fourth quarter. On their first possession, Justin Hoffman applied pressure and Kovac’s pass was intercepted by a leaping Velasquez.

Lakeside would get the ball back on Paulson’s second interception and it appeared the Eagles might finally make a run. They drove quickly from the Medical Lake 42 to the Cards’ 18 on a 39-yard run by Howard and moved the ball to the seven before Kasey Kelly reached for a Kovac pass across the middle and made the interception.

“We have an excellent secondary,” Hobbs said.

The Eagles ended the game with another tag-team sack from Hoffman and Kissack and Medical Lake ran out the clock with a time-consuming trademark drive that ate up most of the rest of the time.

Paulson drew high praise from his coach. “He managed the offense real well,” Hobbs said. “He really sucked it up, you know he got hurt, he took a pretty good wallop, returned to the game and finished.”

Tappero led the Cards with 24 carries and 102 yards while Velasquez added another 81 yards on 13 carries. “We’ve got several different weapons and we definitely try to utilize them all at the right time,” Hobbs said as he described his multi-faceted backfield.

Maybe the most noticeable statistic was time of possession, which Medical Lake dominated with a 32:47 to 15:13 edge.

Next up for Medical Lake is Friday’s NEA battle with Chewelah at 7 p.m. at Holliday Field on a big night.

“This is a big game coming up,” Hobbs said. “We are looking forward to this one, it’s going to be our Homecoming, we’ll be bringing some new inductees into the Medical Lake Athletic Hall of Fame.”

Chewelah (2-0, 4-1) is tough and talented, Hobbs said of the Cougars who have one common opponent, Lakeside. Chewelah beat the Eagles 18-13, Sept. 14. “They’re a big spread team, move the ball all over the place and they have a really mobile quarterback,” Hobbs said. “Just when you think you’ve got him bottled up he scrambles for 35 yards.”

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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