The Ferris football team started and finished strongly.
In between, the Saxons watched Shadle Park sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien set a single-game passing record, but the most important numbers to Ferris were on the scoreboard in a 41-21 Greater Spokane League decision Friday evening at Joe Albi Stadium.
Rypien shot to the top of the all-time GSL chart by piling up 454 yards on 29 of 58 attempts. But a critical interception as the Highlanders were at the Saxons’ 5-yard line swayed the momentum heavily in Ferris’ direction in the first half.
“That’s fine. We got the win,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said. “There’s only one (statistic) I watch.”
Shadle Park (1-1) rallied in the second half, closing within 28-21 late in the third quarter. But the Saxons (2-0) regrouped and the Highlanders didn’t respond.
“We didn’t realize how stressful winning could be at times,” Sharkey said.
“We’re young and we didn’t play up to our capabilities (in the third quarter). And they made some plays. They played better defensively for a while and we didn’t finish some stuff.”
Ferris had fewer yards than the Highlanders in the first half, but the Saxons had better execution.
Speedy Saxons sophomore Jalen Hicks had a big first half. Hicks caught a dig screen from quarterback Christian Olson and did most of the damage on his feet as he broke several tackles and emerged from a midfield scrum for a 51-yard touchdown for the game’s first score.
“He made a lot of plays,” Sharkey said of Hicks. “That’s what we know he’s capable of. I’m going to be on him because he had a couple of others where he’s got to play hard every play. His interception was huge. He’s a special kid. He has big-time speed that you can’t coach.”
After Ferris took a 14-7 lead, Shadle appeared as if it would even things up. The Highlanders drove to the Saxons’ 5 when Rypien’s out pass was intercepted by Hicks just outside the goal line, when he stepped in front of the intended receiver.
He zipped 99 yards untouched to extend the lead to 21-7 with 7:07 to go before halftime.
Shadle again drove deep into Ferris territory, but the drive stalled at the Saxons’ 25.
With 3:10 remaining, the Highlanders ran out the clock but not before running back Gunnar Seefeld plowed a yard behind the left side of the line to give Ferris a 28-7 lead at halftime.
Save for the interception, Rypien had a good opening half. He completed 17 of 31 attempts for 232 yards and one TD. Shadle, in fact, outgained the Saxons 256-226 in the first two quarters.
Ferris played a pass coverage – a three-man rush with eight in coverage – that was willing to give up yards but was designed to limit bigger plays.
Hicks finished with four catches for 71 yards. He gave considerable praise to his teammates on his TD run.
“They set that up for me,” Hicks said. “I was stopped but I got a key block (from guard Brad Dickinson) and then I cut it outside.”