Issaquah stuns Bothell in season-opener

The stage was set for Issaquah to make a grand entrance into the KingCo 4A Thursday night, and the Eagles emphatically answered the call.

The stage was set for Issaquah to make a grand entrance into the KingCo 4A Thursday night, and the Eagles emphatically answered the call.

Facing the defending KingCo 4A champions and state runner-up Bothell — a team ranked as high as No. 2 in 4A preseason polls — Issaquah silenced a capacity crowd at Pop Keeney Stadium with a 24-13 victory.

“It’s huge to open up the season with a win like this against Bothell, the runner-up last year in state,” junior running back Grant Gellatly said. “We were looking forward to it all summer. It was a huge build-up and it’s a big momentum boost for us.”

After falling behind early, Issaquah battled back to hand Bothell its first loss at Pop Keeney since Oct. 21, 2005 — a night the Cougars fell 21-14 to Woodinville.

“This is big for the kids to handle the environment,” Issaquah head coach Chris Bennett said. “It’s a great atmosphere here.”

Bothell sent its blue and white clad fans into a frenzy with 4:52 left in the first quarter, capping off an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run from junior Patrick Ottorbech. Issaquah followed up with a long drive on its ensuing possession, only to turn the ball over at Bothell’s 11-yard line via an interception.

“It’s just electric here and we got down seven and nobody panicked,” Bennett said. “The coaching staff did a great job making adjustments and the kids just stayed with the program and stayed with the plan.”

After a defensive stop, Issaquah capitalized early in the second quarter, turning a botched punt from Nick Kaylor into a three-play, 20-yard touchdown drive and a 7-7 tie. Gellatly, who rushed 25 times for 135 yards, put the Eagles on the board with a 4-yard score.

Bothell snagged the lead again on its next possession via 1-yard TD run from Ottorbech with 7:24 to go in the half. A 33-yard field goal from Gavin Schumaker inched the Eagles closer, but they still trailed, 13-10, headed into the locker room.

A reenergized defense, however, shifted momentum in the second half. Ottorbech, who rushed for 88 yards and two TDs in the first half, was shut down in the second half. Issaquah’s defensive front held the Cougar’s star back to seven carries for negative one yard in the final two quarters.

“We came in at halftime and we knew we were in the right position,” said Gellatly, who had a key fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. “We just weren’t making tackles, kind of getting lazy with arm tackles. We just thought if we can get out there and wrap up our defense would swarm to him and that’s what we did.”

Along with stopping the run, Issaquah’s defensive front also harassed Bothell quarterback James Korn, sacking him four times in the second half and forcing him into two interceptions. Sean Stuby had two sacks, accounting for negative 21 yards.

Gellatly struck two more times. He gave the Eagles their first lead with 8:28 to go in the third, taking a screen pass from Joey Bradley 13 yards into the end zone. He also scored on a 7-yard scamper with 11:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I’ve got a big offensive line and they’ve been working real hard,” Gellatly said. “They were getting some nice surge for me, they made it easy.”

Asked if it was a wake-up call for the rest of the KingCo 4A, Bennett noted it’s a long season in a tough division.

“We’ve got such a tough schedule,” he said. “We’ve got to go one week at a time. We can’t get caught up looking down the road. It never gets easier. This is definitely going to give us some confidence, we’re going to build off this and hopefully we stay healthy and hopefully we’ll be playing our best football in October and November.”

Issaquah next takes the field at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12 at IHS against old KingCo 3A rival Mount Si.

Issaquah vs. Mount Si

Kickoff: 7 p.m., tonight at IHS

Quick look: Mount Si was predicted by many to compete with Bellevue for the KingCo 3A title this year. The Wildcats struggled in their opener last week, falling 24-12 at home to Eastlake. Quarterback Tyson Riley threw for 219 yards, but completed only 13 of 35 attempts. Issaquah’s line dominated on offense and defense in its road victory over Bothell and was able to harass Bothell quarterback James Korn, sacking him four times and forcing two interceptions.

Prediction: Home field advantage and Issaquah’s ability to get after the quarterback are too much. Final score 30-14 Issaquah.