Bitter, sour, rancid, nasty.
However they wanted to word it, there was a lingering taste the Issaquah football team felt it needed to wash away a week after falling 38-0 to rival Skyline.
The Eagles took a huge dose of proverbial mouthwash Friday night, crushing Newport, 42-6, in front of the Knights’ homecoming crowd. The victory provided Issaquah the No. 2 spot in the KingCo Crest division and assured the Eagles a state qualifying playoff game in two weeks.
“It was just good to get that taste out of our mouth,” Issaquah head coach Chris Bennett said. “Honestly, we were embarrassed last week. … We learned a lot about ourselves this week and we responded, and that’s good.”
The Eagles will host the No. 2 team from the Crown division, Woodinville, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31 in a battle for the No. 3 and 4 District 2 playoff seeds. Both teams are guaranteed trips to the postseason. A loss to Newport, however, would have forced a three-way tie for second place between Issaquah, Newport and Eastlake, which would have been settled by a coin toss.
“We didn’t even realize that until a couple of days ago, so we were really like, ‘We can’t have a downer,’” Issaquah quarterback Joey Bradley said.
Issaquah responded with one of its most dominating performances of the season, improving its record to 4-1 in league and 7-1 overall.
“Our guys came out pretty jacked up, and we competed like we should,” Bradley said.
Using a no-huddle offense for the first time this season, Issaquah sputtered at times in the first half, but managed a 14-0 halftime lead. Bradley connected with sophomore wide receiver Evan Peterson for a 6-yard TD pass, and running back Grant Gellatly rushed in a 1-yard score.
“We kind of wanted to get it for the playoffs, mix stuff up, and we figured it would be good,” Bradley said of the no-huddle.
Issaquah went back to its bread and butter in the second half, running the ball and using play-action passes. The Eagles erupted for 21 third-quarter points and a 35-0 lead. Bradley, who was 10 for 18 passing for 182 yards and two TDs, hooked up with Peterson on a 15-yard screen pass. The sophomore, who was filling in for two injured senior starting wide receivers, had five catches for 131 yards to go with his two touchdowns. His largest play came on a slant route that went for 69 yards in the first quarter.
“I told him before the game, ‘Hey buddy, you’re going to have a big game tonight,’” Bradley said. “He came up big and I said ‘You’ve got to do that every week for me.’”
Gellatly had another huge game for Issaquah. The junior running back rushed for 96 of his 162 yards in the second half, and added touchdowns of 12 and 17 yards. He now has 942 yards in seven games and 17 touchdowns — 16 rushing. Gellatly, who missed half of the Inglemoor contest and the entire Garfield game with a broken right thumb, has averaged 134 yards a game this season. Sophomore running back Taylor Wyman added a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping Issaquah to 259 rushing yards for the evening. The Eagles had 441 yards of total offense, while holding Newport to 277. Back-up quarterback Andrew West accounted for nearly half of the Knights’ yardage connecting on two big pass plays in the fourth quarter, including 41-yarder that set up Newport’s only score — a 1-yard dive from Ian Case.
Issaquah, which has been plagued with injuries this season, managed to escape the contest with minimal damage. Center Dillon Regan missed the contest after tearing his hand up against Skyline and receiving 27 stitches. Leading receivers Ross Zuhl and Brennan Miller are both still nursing injuries. According to Bennett, they might get another week of rest before the playoffs.
“They’ll be game-time decisions,” he said. “Since it’s not the end of the world this week, another week of rest would kind of help them.”