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Island Cup stays in Friday Harbor; Wolverines defeat Orcas Vikings 21-14 in OT

Editor's note: This story was originally posted Sept. 6. The slideshow was posted today.

With the outcome in doubt and the Island Cup trophy still up for grabs, the Friday Harbor Wolverines and the Orcas Vikings took to the field to slug it out in overtime with the score knotted at 14-14, Saturday at Dahl Field on Orcas Island.

Trailing by seven points almost the entire game, Orcas put another seven points on the board as sophomore quarterback Robby Padbury and senior wide-out Tyler Diepenbrock hooked up on a perfectly-placed touchdown pass in the back-corner of the end zone with 4:18 left in regulation.

It was the second time the Vikings bounced back from a deficit to tie the game.

"It was a hard-fought battle," Friday Harbor Head Coach Darrin Scheffer said. "Those men from Orcas came to play and they played really well."

The Wolverines had a chance to put the game away in regulation. But with three seconds left on the clock, senior Mike Ausilio's 22-yard field-goal attempt fell two yards shy of clearing the uprights and the players on the Vikings' sidelines and their fans in the bleachers erupted in jubilation at the prospect of reclaiming the trophy.

It was not to be.

In overtime -- a sudden-death format wherein each team gets a single set of downs and takes the first snap at the 25-yard line -- the Vikings proved no match for the Wolverines’ superior size and strength in the trenches.

Friday Harbor first moved the chains and then tallied what proved to be the game-winning touchdown as junior Roy Taylor swept into the end zone from 12 yards out on the team's fourth consecutive running play, putting the Wolverines out in front for good at 21-14.

Taylor tallied two TDs on the ground in the game. Ausilio scored the team's other TD on a 40-yard pass from junior Tanner Buck just before the break. Buck completed 10 of 15 pass attempts, with one touchdown and two interceptions, in his first-ever start in the pocket for the Wolverines.

In the extra period, the ball exchanged hands and the Vikings took their final shot. But on the second play from scrimmage, senior defensive end Parker Lawson sacked Padbury for a 10-yard loss in perhaps the biggest play of the game. Orcas, unable to make up much ground on the next play, saw its chance to reclaim the cup snuffed out as the Wolverines secondary gobbled up a Hail Mary pass by Padbury on fourth down, from 35 yards out, to seal the victory.

"I think our defense played a real good game," Scheffer said. "We needed them to step up, particularly in the second half, and they did. Parker played a whale of a game and I think he learned a few things out on the field and was able to make some changes in what he was doing as the game went on. He can be a real difference-maker."

It was the Wolverines’ sixth consecutive Island Cup win; they matched the Vikings in most consecutive wins in the 20-year history of the annual inter-island game. However, Friday Harbor leads the series 13-7 overall.

A steady stream of rain clouds and sturdy winds from the south threatened to turn Dahl Field into a windswept quagmire just prior to game time. But by the opening kickoff (pushed back to 1 p.m. due to a 30-minute delay in the arrival of the umpiring crew from Anacortes) conditions had improved dramatically. In fact, thanks to numerous sun breaks and temperatures close to 70 over the course of the game, the weather proved ideal for the 400 or so fans who packed the bleachers on both sides of the field.

The game was marred by an injury. Friday Harbor senior Dalton Baker, a starter upfront on offense and defense, sustained a helmet-to-helmet blow in the waning moments of the first half and, strapped to a stretcher, was airlifted by helicopter from the fringe of Dahl Field to a mainland hospital as a precaution. He was released later that day and had returned home by late Saturday.

The Wolverines prevailed in one of the most tightly-contested, some might say epic, games in Island Cup history. They were flagged for more penalties than the Vikings and came out on the losing end of the turnover battle. The Vikings picked off two passes and recovered two fumbles, while the Wolverines had a single interception and one fumble recovery.

Scheffer said taking better care of the ball will be the priority as the Wolverines prepare for a pivotal game Friday at Meridian, which dropped its season opener last Friday in a 17-7 loss on the road against Division 2A Squalicum. The Wolverines have lost their last four games against the Trojans; they hope to break that streak in Friday's contest on Meridian's home field. Kick off is 7:30 p.m.

Wide receiver Forest Dayton, a senior, led the Wolverines’ receiving corps with five catches, including a 26-yard diving grab that set up the team's first touchdown. Ausilio and junior tight-end Cody West each had two catches.

Notebook: Plays of the game ... Defensive end Parker Lawson's 10-yard sack put the end zone out of reach for the Vikings in sudden death. Safety Mike Ausilio erased a scoring threat late in the third period with a touchdown-saving tackle on the 1-yard line. Ausilio rambled 15 yards with a fake punt on 4th-and-12 to give Friday Harbor a shot at a win in regulation. Wide receiver Dayton Forest's diving 26-yard catch set up the first of two Friday Harbor touchdowns in the opening half.

Next: The Wolverines (1-0) will tackle the Meridian Trojans on the road Friday; kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

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