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Federal Way runs by Kentwood Thursday, 24-21
The Federal Way Eagles did to Kentwood Thursday night, what the Conquerors have been doing to the rest of the South Puget Sound League for years.
Federal Way controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and played shutdown defense at crucial times during a 24-21 win at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
"It was awesome," said Federal Way head coach John Meagher. "The kids battled the whole night."
The victory was the Eagles' fourth in a row after starting the season with back-to-back losses to Auburn and Graham-Kapowsin and moved them to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the SPSL North Division. The loss drops Kentwood (5-2, 4-2) into a tie for third place in the North with Federal Way (5-2, 4-2). Auburn leads the North at 6-0, followed by the 4-1 Kentridge Chargers.
"We have come a long way since the start of the season," Meagher said. "We have really gotten better every week since starting 0-2."
Federal Way looked like the hungrier team Thursday night, especially after Kentwood jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter when junior Jared Fuller squirted through the Federal Way defense for a 34-yard touchdown run.
But that was as good as it would get for Kentwood during the first half. The Eagles scored the next 24 points, including 21 in the second quarter, to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"We really controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half," Meagher said. "We were pushing them around a little bit."
Federal Way got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal from Kelyn Rowe. But it was a 13-second stretch midway through the second quarter that proved to be the difference in the game.
Trailing 7-3, Stanley Matau recovered a fumble from Eagle tailback Trenton Pinson in the endzone after a Kentwood defender jarred the ball loose at the 1-yard line. The Matau score gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 10-7.
Following the kickoff, Kentwood quarterback Tristan Askew fumbled on the Conquerors' first play from scrimmage. The ball was recovered by Federal Way's Jared Sio at the Kentwood 12-yard line. On the next play, Pinson rolled through the middle of the Conqueror defense for another touchdown to give the Eagles a commanding 17-7 lead with 6:25 left in the first half.
Pinson finished with a career-high 33 carries for 131 tough yards Thursday night, including several drive extending runs.
"He ran the ball hard," Meagher said. "It was good to see him running downhill. It's nice to feel comfortable in giving him the ball that many times."
Federal Way added their third touchdown of the second quarter after an impressive 86-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Nick Tanielu with 21.3 left in the half. The nine-play drive was highlighted by a passes of 33 and 27 yards from Tanielu to Jajuan Davis. Tanielu continued his solid play this season against Kentwood, finishing 9 of 15 for 245 yards.
"He has come a long way in his short time as a quarterback," Meagher said. "Last year was the first time he had ever played the position. He has made a lot of progress."
Kentwood attempted a comeback in the second half. The Conquerors scored on their first two drives of the third quarter to cut the Federal Way lead to 24-21.
Kentwood got a 39-yard touchdown run through the middle of the Eagle defense with 9:05 left in the third quarter by sophomore running back Matt Hubbard. The Conquerors also scored on their next possession, after an impressive eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Mikell Everette catching a 25-yard screen pass from Shane Green with 41.8 left in the third quarter.
But Kentwood's offense just couldn't get on the field during the final 12 minutes of the game and never threatened. The Conquerors had only two drives during the fourth quarter and both started deep in their own territory. It also didn't help that Federal Way and Pinson held the ball for over nine minutes during the quarter.
"We just ate up a bunch of clock," Meagher said. "Our defense has done a good job this season. We have been kind of a bend, but not break group. The key for us is to force teams into second- and third-and-longs. We have the No. 1 pass defense in the league. We got some athletes back there."
Both Federal Way and Kentwood have two SPSL North regular-season games to play and can guarantee postseason berths by winning out. The Eagles take on winless Jefferson and Kent-Meridian before the postseason. Kentwood plays a huge game against second-place Kentridge at French Field Friday night and ends the season against Kentlake.
The top-three teams from the North automatically advance into the playoffs. The fourth seed will have to play a pigtail game against the fifth-place finisher from the Narrows League on Nov. 3.