The personnel and style may have changed, but otherwise why mess with a tried and true formula?
Lewis and Clark didn’t with a 28-7 victory Friday night over Mead in a football game between Greater Spokane League favorites at Joe Albi Stadium.
Riding the legs of their running back – junior Levi Taylor – as they did last year with Alex Shaw all the way to a state championship, the Tigers ran and ran and ran some more while improving to 2-0 overall in their first GSL counter.
Taylor is a speedier, shiftier version of Shaw but equally durable as he packed the football 33 times, piled up 193 yards and scored all four touchdowns.
The high number of carries came, in part, out of necessity.
The Tigers lost quarterback Taylor Eglet to a head injury after he was met helmet to helmet while driving the team to its first score.
With Austin Ehlo at the reins in the second half, LC only passed sparingly late in the fourth quarter with a three-touchdown lead.
“Alex is more of a standup runner and developed more vision as the season went on,” said Taylor of Shaw. “I like to get out in space more.”
Taylor’s workhorse night, coupled with a pair of untimely and, ultimately, costly Panthers turnovers transformed a game that had all the elements of a barnburner.
The Tigers were driving early when Eglet threw a sideline interception that Casey Monohan picked off at the 12. Mead proceeded to go on a 7-minute drive that put the Tigers on their heels. It used up the last half of the first quarter and carried into the second before resulting in the game’s first score.
That drive featured a blend of rushes and Max Kayser passes. His favorite target was Ryane Laforte, who had a pair of 20-yard grabs. The scoring toss went to tight end Bryce Peters, who was in motion.
“Where have you seen that before?” asked LC coach Tom Yearout. “The last game in Tacoma (Bothell) went right down the field. It always takes us a series to see the speed of the formations.”
LC answered the bell with a drive of its own that took nearly 8 minutes, included some clutch plays by Eglet and featured 11 carries by Taylor. His last five covered a total of 3 yards, thwarting a valiant Panthers stand.
Then disaster struck Mead, which fumbled away its first play following LC’s score.
The Tigers covered 25 yards in eight plays with Taylor getting his second touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion put them up 14-7, 42 seconds remaining until intermission.
“I think that changed the momentum of the game,” said Yearout in something of an understatement.
Taylor’s quick burst on the first play following the half netted 50 yards, and three carries later he was in the end zone again. Mead fumbled once more and Taylor carried four times for the necessary 23 yards that put the game out of reach.
LC’s defense, which had taken its share of hits on that first drive, held the Panthers in check the rest of the way.
Veterans Charles Taylor and Chris Mastin had solid games, as did Joe Zimmerman and, among a host of defensive backs, David McNeill.
East Valley 56, North Central 7: Nick Bellomy proved unstoppable as the Knights evened their GSL record at 1-1 with their win in the early game at Albi. By halftime Bellomy had rushed for 153 yards and scored three touchdowns, the game comfortably in hand at 35-0.
Bellomy finished his day with two more carries and 175 yards. The Knights tacked on three more third-quarter scores, by pass, fumble return and rush. NC avoided the shutout when quarterback Josh Materne found Sam Cropper, with nary a defender in sight, for a fourth-quarter 30-yard TD.
EV scored on two six-play drives for an early 14-0 lead. Bellomy scored the final three touchdowns of the half, including runs of 57 and 37 yards. EV finished with nearly 300 rushing yards and the Knights’ defense limited the Indians to 187.
Central Valley 33, University 14: A pair of interceptions, by Justin Walker and Spencer Nichols, helped turn the tide as the Bears pulled away in the second half to win at U-Hi. The score was just 13-6 at intermission, but Michael Williams caught a 30-yard scoring strike from Blake Bledsoe, and the Bears also scored on a fumble return. Tyler Simmet rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and Brad Whitley had a 35-yard scoring catch.