Arlington Eagles fall in OT thriller

SNOHOMISH — If football is a play in four parts, the Arlington football team had some first act jitters.

With no seniors graduated and no gaps to fill, the Glacier Peak team Arlington faced for the second-straight season kickoff game was a lot more confident this year, scoring three touchdowns against Arlington in the first nine and a half minutes. Two turnovers and several false start penalties in the first quarter proved costly as Glacier Peak took a 21-3 lead in the Sept. 4 season opener. They held on for the 52-51 overtime win in what became a much closer game.

The Grizzly defense limited short-yard play opportunities for the Eagles. But with 16 seconds left in the first quarter, senior quarterback Andy Smith completed a 38-yard pass to junior receiver Griffin Ginnis, setting up a three-yard run into the end zone by Riley Cobb, Arlington’s first touchdown of the season.

On the following possession, the Grizzlies turned the ball over on downs and Ginnis had another long reception down to the opposing 11-yard line. The Glacier Peak defense appeared to hold Arlington, but an encroachment call gave the Eagles fourth and three on the five-yard line. Smith connected with sophomore wide receiver Blake McPherson in the right end zone to bring Arlington within four points.

On a third and long with 17 seconds in the first half, defensive back Connor Cummings picked off Grizzlies QB Zach Richter at the Arlington 26 but the Eagles took a knee to end the quarter rather than drive the ball.

Arlington went into the locker room within a score of the lead and both teams knew it.

“It became quite the track meet in the second half,” Arlington coach Greg Dailer said after the game.

Glacier Peak found the end zone again after the kickoff but Arlington answered, playing through a fumble and some fourth-down heroics as Varnell caught a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it a 28-24 game midway through the third quarter.

In the second half’s only drive to end without a score, Glacier Peak then turned the ball over on downs and Arlington drove the ball 70 yards culminating in a 12-yard to running back/receiver Jake Parduhn, his first touchdown of the season and giving Arlington its first lead of the game, 31-28. Glacier Peak retook the lead, driving the ball a minute and a half before Alex Stepanchenko scored the rushing touchdown. Smith and Parduhn reconnected for another touchdown on fourth down. Within three minutes, the teams would once again exchange touchdowns.

As Glacier Peak drove with less than two minutes left, all eyes were on the clock. With 14 seconds left, Richter took off on a quarterback keeper and was knocked out of bounds at the nine-yard line to stop the clock with four seconds left. The Grizzlies went for the tying field goal, sending the game to overtime.

Starting at the 25-yard line, Smith connected with Varnell on the second play of the drive for Varnell’s third touchdown reception of the game. But a blocked extra point meant Glacier Peak could win the game with their own touchdown and successful extra point. True to their second-half performance, Richter found the end zone and Grizzlies won on an extra point kick that was true.

“We had a special teams mistake which cost us. It’s too bad,” Dailer said. “But with 103 combined points, someone had to win.”

Smith was 37-for-52 passing for 427 yards and six touchdowns. A co-captain of the Eagles squad, Smith played the complete game and impressed Dailer with his poise, particularly after an interception early in the game.

“We’re going to be alright offensively,” Dailer added. “Defensively, I’m sure we’ll see something we need to do to fill holes.”

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