Big, physical and angry, Federal Way delivered a heavy blow early and often to stagger Auburn Riverside with its first loss of the season Friday.
The Eagles took wing early, built a 24-point halftime lead and went on to drub the Ravens 34-7 in a North Puget Sound League Valley Division opener at gusty Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
Federal Way (3-1) matched the Ravens’ muscle up front, shut down their running attack, reducing it to a season-low 141 yards, silenced any big-play air traffic and unleashed a balanced attack of its own.
R.J. Tausili threw for 151 yards and three touchdown passes, two to Ronald Davis III, and Jaylen Bogan ran 33 yards for another. The Eagles, stung by a 34-31 loss to rival Todd Beamer the week before, are back on track as they pursue the Valley title.
“There’s only four divisional games, so you have to care of each of them,” said Eagles coach John Meagher. “Last week was a tough one because it’s an inner-city rival, but it’s like a preseason game. … This is the regular season and it counts. It’s nice in the game that counted we played some of our best football.”
Without Friday night lights – thieves on the eve of the game ripped away wiring that powers the stadium’s system – an original 7 o’clock encounter became an immediate matinee. Auburn Riverside struggled to adjust to the 3:30 p.m. start.
“We didn’t respond to the adversity,” said Ravens coach Marcus Yzaguirre. “We got here earlier than we were supposed to, so we were just sitting and waiting, idle time (but) that’s no excuse.
“Federal Way is a good team. They had a great game plan,” he said. “They came out and hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond very well early.”
After opening the season with three runaway wins at home, the Ravens didn’t expect to be roughed up on the road.
“We didn’t see this coming. We got hit in the mouth,” said Javon Forward, the Ravens’ standout running back and safety.
The afternoon start didn’t bother the Eagles as much.
Leading 3-0 early in the second quarter, the Eagles smothered the Ravens punter, who dropped the snapped football at the AR 14-yard line. Three plays later, Tausili found Davis for a 13-yard TD with 7:43 left to go in the second quarter.
Auburn Riverside put together its best drive of the day, marching to Federal Way’s 24-yard line. But on fourth-and-3, the Eagles stopped Forward in the backfield and recovered his fumble with 5:38 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles scored six plays later – Bogan’s vault off tackle that boosted the lead to 17-0 with 3:18 left in the second quarter.
Bogan, a stout senior running back at 6 foot, 215 pounds, needed just a crease to pick up chunks of yardage throughout the first half.
“I was talking to my line at first and I told them that even if you pull, I don’t need a huge pancake block,” said Bogan, who has drawn interest from Wyoming and Montana State. “If you get your hands on them, I’m cutting on the outside of you.”
Tausili later found Davis again in the seam of the Ravens’ secondary for a 14-yard TD with 21.6 seconds remaining in the half.
“We tried to keep it as normal as we could,” Meagher said of the game’s early start. “It was nice to get a lead at halftime … and we tried to take some of the air out of the ball in the second half … get the clock rolling.
“Overall, (I’m) happy with our kids’ performance,” he said. “(The Ravens) were playing really well. … If you just looked at the statistics, we were going to get our rear ends kicked. But it’s not about statistics, it’s about the guys who are playing, and our kids came to play tonight.”
Federal Way pushed the margin to 34-0 when Randy Ortiz kicked a 37-yard field goal, his second of the game, and Tausili connected with Corey Quinn on a 20-yard TD with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
Auburn Riverside scored on Arthur Tauiliili’s 1-yard dive with 11:34 left in the game.
Tausili smoothly ran the Eagles’ spread offense, mixing the run with the pass, throwing either short or long.
It was a bounce-back win.
“It’s good,” Tausili said of the outcome. “It’s hard to come off a loss, especially Beamer, one of our biggest rivals. But just talking to the guys and making sure everyone’s head was right … our goal was to win this game.”
Federal Way hosts winless Kentlake this Thursday. Auburn Riverside visits winless Kent-Meridian at French Field this Friday. Both division games kick off at 7 p.m.