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December 5, 2008 at 7:32 PM

Fourth quarter: Skyline 20, Issaquah 15

FINAL: Skyline 20, Issaquah 15. For a second consecutive year, Skyline wins a dramatic state championship. Now the Spartans have two 3A titles AND two 4A titles after this win. Just like last weekend in Ferris, Skyline made the plays it needed to win: a huge third-down pass to Kasen Williams, a couple fourth-quarter sacks, and a very important interception by senior Ryan Somers.

Issaquah put Skyline’s perfect season on the line until the final minute. What a turnaround from that 38-0 loss seven weeks ago — the Eagles moved the ball well and really came out playing great in the second half. They made Skyline work for this victory, and the Spartans earned this state championship in the fourth quarter.

0:07 left, 4th Q: And Issaquah can’t convert on fourth down. A couple great blitzes by Skyline on that drive. Gutsy calls, blitzing in that situation, but Skyline’s defense has come through in all of these situations all season.

1:03 left, 4th Q: Issaquah takes over at its 23.

1:13 left, 4th Q: Issaquah’s going to get the ball back for one more shot (and no timeouts). Skyline’s preparing to punt on fourth down at the Skyline 48.

2:09 left, 4th Q: Once again, Skyline’s defense makes the big play. Just as the Spartans did against Bothell and Ferris, the defense makes a big play late. Ryan Somers intercepts Joey Bradley, giving Skyline the ball at the 50.

2:38 left, 4th Q: Two great, but fortuitous, catches by Ross Zuhl keep the drive going. Both bounced off the hands of Anthony DeMatteo — the second one was in his arms.

4:29 left, 4th Q: What a sure-handed catch by Skyline’s Jake Knecht, who grabbed a 5-yard touchdown as an Issaquah DB tried to take it from him. So Skyline answers, and the Spartans, who don’t get the 2-point conversion, take a 20-15 lead.

6:09 left, 4th Q: Here I was on third-and-long thinking this is four-down territory, and Skyline could go short if it wanted to. Skyline was probably thinking four downs, too, but the Spartans figured they could take a shot deep, and they did. Kasen Williams catches a huge bomb, setting up first and goal for Skyline.

8:29 left, 4th Q: Issaquah takes its first lead with a 1-yard run by Gellatly. Joey Bradley saved this drive for the Eagles with a 9-yard run on third-and-9 and get the first down at the 1-yard line. Bradley was huge on third down on this drive. Issaquah goes for two and doesn’t get it again.

End 3rd Q: It’s the Joey Bradley show, folks. Issaquah’s quarterback just made a great throw on third down — again — to keep this drive alive. The Eagles are driving for the winning score as we go into the fourth…

2:04 left, 3rd Q: On third down, Bradley makes a great play, fumbling, picking up his fumble and throwing to Gellatly for a big gain.

3:02 left, 3rd Q: Issaquah gets the ball back again (Skyline didn’t get the interference call it wanted on third down, but Issaquah had done a great job on second down making it third-and-7).

4:28 left, 3rd Q: What a drive by Issaquah, which goes 69 yards in eight plays on Skyline like it was nothing. Grant Gellatly scores on a 1-yard touchdown to finish the drive, and Bradley had a couple great throws. The Eagles go for two and don’t get it. Skyline’s lead is down to 14-9.

8:21 left, 3rd Q: Another big stop for Issaquah, which will take over at its own 21. Outside of the 45-yard touchdown to Knecht, Skyline’s passing game has come out a little bit off kilter. Now its defense tries to keep the lead at two scores.

HALFTIME: The kick goes wide left, so at the half, it’s Skyline 14, Issaquah 3. That score might not surprise anyone, but the way Issaquah has moved the ball might. But Issaquah has really shot itself in the thigh foot in Skyline territory. The Eagles have moved deep into Skyline’s side five times, and come out with three points. Two holding penalties, a turnover on downs and a missed field goal have really meant a huge difference.

0:02 left, 2nd Q: But Issaquah’s going to get one more shot at that field goal. Because Taylor Wyman intercepts Heaps and takes the ball down to the 23. That is just Heaps’ fourth interception this season. But Issaquah’s going to get a shot at a 40-yarder.

0:25 left, 2nd Q: On a curious decision by Issaquah — which really does have the kicker for this situation — Issaquah can’t convert 4th-and-10 from the Skyline 24. Ryan Somers breaks through the Issaquah line and sacks Bradley, giving Skyline the ball.

1:57 left, 2nd Q: OK, they’re pretty even now on pass interference calls. Skyline gets flagged for what looked like pretty ideal coverage. And Issaquah’s going to move into Skyline territory for the final two minutes.

4:07 left, 2nd Q: On third-and-9, Heaps finds Jake Knecht in a huge hole in the secondary, and Knecht scores a 45-yard touchdown. When Skyline catches a break, as it did three plays earlier, it rarely doesn’t take advantage. It’s 14-3 Skyline.

4:58 left, 2nd Q: Rough pass interference call for Issaquah to take on 3rd-and-20; it’s hard to say how the Eagles interfered there. FSN’s Jen Mueller — an official herself — makes the point that there is no uncatchable ball call in high schoo football.

6:58 left, 2nd Q: Gavin Schumaker makes a 26-yard field goal to cut Skyline’s lead to 7-3. Once again, Issaquah moves the ball well right up until the red zone, where a penalty kills them.

You can usually tell exactly what’s on Issaquah coach Chris Bennett’s mind, and after that delay of game penalty, he didn’t look too happy — even though his team’s already surpassed the yards it gained seven weeks ago against Skyline. Bennett and the Eagles really could have used seven there.

END 1st Q. Skyline leads 7-0. The FSN cameras are showing the Issaqauh training staff working on Brennan Miller, who’s an important player on both sides for the Eagles. He’s been dealing with ankle injuries for most of the season.

0:26 left, 1st Q: William Chandler catches a short touchdown pass from Jake Heaps, and Skyline takes a 7-0 lead. Chandler and Jake Knecht each had catches on that drive; it’s important to remember Skyline has more than Gino Simone and Kasen Williams out there. A couple solid runs — and a big blitz pickup — by running back Nick Washburn on that drive. He’s the brother of Tyler Washburn, who ran for the winning score in last year’s 3A championship game.

You’ve got to wonder how much it’s going to hurt Issaquah that it didn’t score on those past two drives…

3:38 left, 1st Q: Another holding penalty hurts the Eagles. Forced into a situation where he had to throw long, Joey Bradley throws an interception to Kasen Williams. That’s Williams’ third interception of the season.

7:25 left, 1st Q: Sean Stuby gets a big sack on Jake Heaps on the Spartans’ opening possession.and that’s the stop Issaquah had to get. That’s also the play the Eagles didn’t make last time these two teams played.

9:02 left, 1st Q: Huge hit by Kasen Williams, somewhat reminiscent of the hit he took in last year’s state championship game, to keep Issaquah from getting a first down. Skyline gets the ball.

Issaquah moved it well on this drive. The Eagles were helped by that pass interference penalty, but Grant Gellatly gave Issaquah good reason for some hope with a big run. But that holding penalty was a killer.

KICKOFF: Issaquah’s getting the ball first…

PREGAME: Outside of the obvious guys — Jake Heaps, Gino Simone, Kasen Williams, Grant Gellatly — here’s two players I think everyone should look out for tonight:

Issaquah WR Ross Zuhl. Zuhl and Bradley will need to have a fantastic night. If they can get something deep, that’s great, but more importantly, they must move the ball. Zuhl, when healthy, is one of the area’s most solid receivers.

Skyline LB Anthony DeMatteo. The KingCo Crest defensive player of the year, DeMatteo somehow ends up everywhere. He’s 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, and he’s got the kind of mean streak you’d expect from a wrestler. He’s far from the only reason Skyline’s defense has been so stout to date, but he is a big one.



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