Entering the final two weeks of their Northeast A League football schedule, Chewelah is in the league playoff picture after a victory over the Lakeside Eagles on Friday night.
The Cougars' defense had their best performance of the season, holding the Eagles to 207 yards total offense and stopping three Lakeside scoring threats inside the five-yard-line to preserve the 13-6 win at Nine Mile Falls.
“It was a good win for us on the road,” coach Jim Fisk said. “We’ll take it.”
The catalyst for the Cougars was quarterback Derek Smith. He directed touchdown drives of 95 and 99 yards. On defense, Smith intercepted Lakeside quarterback John Grittner twice at the goal line to snuff out Eagle scoring opportunities.
“He (Smith) had a good game, and so did a lot of the other kids,” said Fisk. “I thought the secondary improved a lot.”
The offense was forced to throw the ball more, with Lakeside stacking eight defenders near the line, but the Cougars were ready.
Eight in the box
“If they stack eight guys in the box, well, we just can’t run in there, but we can make things happen,” Fisk pointed out. “So if they want us to spread it out, we‘ll spread it out.”
Smith completed 11 of 19 passes with passing and run¬ning TD’s (two interceptions). The Cougars' defense stepped up and for the first time this season, holding an opponent to under 225 yards.
Grittner was harassed almost every time he dropped back to pass and the Lakeside running game was shut down after some early success.
“The whole defense played well,” said Fisk. “They held them to just a little over 200 yards. I put them on a short field a few times, but they responded well.”
On Friday night, Chewelah received the opening kickoff and quickly moved downfield. But on that drive, Smith was intercepted at the Lakeside 25 by Nick Broderius, who returned the ball to the 40-yard-line to set up Lakeside’s first drive. The Eagles moved the ball downfield methodically, driving down to the Chewelah five-yard-line. Four times the Eagles tried to score--and all four times the Chewelah defense turned them back, stuffing a QB draw on fourth down to take over on their own five.
The Cougars proceeded to go 95 yards for a touchdown in 4:31, converting on their own fourth down on a five-yard pass to Ryan Finley. With the extra point, the Cougars led 7-0 with 9:20 left in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Smith threw his second interception of the game, giving the Eagles the ball at Chewelah’s 45-yard-line. The Eagles took advantage of their field position and scored a touchdown with 1:10 left in the half on a 12-yard pass to Coleton Collins from Grittner. The extra point was no good and the Cougars took a 7-6 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the defenses were on top of their games, with neither side able to move the ball well. Late in the third quarter, Lakeside threatened to score the go-ahead touchdown after a great punt return set them up at the Chewelah 36-yard-line. But the Chewelah defense came up big again, with Smith intercept¬ing Grittner’s pass at the one-yard-line. But Smith was unable to keep his feet and the Cougars got the ball at their own one-yard-line with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
Chewelah responded with their longest touchdown drive of the season, helped in part by a blocked punt. Chewelah moved out from the shadow of their own goal line, but got bogged down at their own 33 and facing fourth and 12, the Chewelah punt was blocked, but the ball was recovered by punter Calvin Connall and advanced for a first down.
Smith was able to cash in that bit of good luck, taking the Cougars the rest of the way and scoring on a three-yard run. The kick was no good and the Cougars led 13-7 with 10:38 left in the game.
On Lakeside’s next possession, the Eagles drove into scoring position, but were again denied by the Cougars' defense. Smith again intercepted Grittner, this time in the end zone to end the scoring threat.
Chewelah moved the ball from their 20-yard-line to the Lakeside 20 before turning the ball over on downs with 3:19 left in the game. Lakeside was able to move the ball to midfield, but on fourth down, Grittner was sacked one last time to turn the ball back over to Chewelah, who were able to run out the clock and secure the victory.
With two league games left, the Cougars could end up in a tie for first or second in the NEA if they win both the Riverside and Colville games. This Friday is Homecoming for the Cougars (3-4, 1-2) against the Riverside Rams (4-3, 2-2). Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Chewelah 0 7 0 6--13
Lakeside 0 6 0 0 --6
Chw-Finley 5 from Smith (Curtis kick)
Lak-Collins 11 pass from Grittner (kick failed)
Chw-Smith 3 run (kick failed)