By Bonta Hill
In its final non-league game the season, Washington High School was again impacted by self-inflicted mistakes.
Irvington of Fremont took advantage of Washington’s miscues, as sophomore quarterback Jack Shank’s go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass to Raeshawn Lee with 1:19 remaining in the game gave the Vikings the slim 22-21 victory.
“Last year, I don’t know if we make those plays, but time and time again, these kids step up when they have to. I’m so proud of these guys,” said Irvington head coach Zach Silvernale. “Even though [he] is only a sophomore, we trust Jack with the ball in his hands.”
The Eagles still had a chance to win with 29 seconds left, but Washington kicker Adam Badi’s 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked, sealing the heartbreaking loss for Washington.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” said Washington head coach Karl Finley. “We have to eliminate some of the mistakes we’re making.”
Most of the miscues that haunted the Eagles happened in the first half, where they committed seven penalties, fumbled deep in Irvington territory, and failed on three chances to score from inside the 3-yard line.
But the most obvious question Finley had to answer after the game was why he opted to go for the field goal with 29 seconds left, instead of running more offensive plays to either score a touchdown or shorten the distance of the field goal.
“The [assistant] coaches thought maybe I should have run another play or two and get closer, but heck, I don’t know. If I had all the answers I’d never lose,” Finley said.
Even with the mistakes, the Eagles still found themselves leading 14-7 at halftime on the strength of Peter Tran’s blocked punt, in which he scooped up the loose ball at the 19-yard line and walked in easily for the score.
But the Vikings returned the opening second-half kickoff 72 yards and scored on a 6-yard run by Shank that cut the lead to 14-13.
Another Washington fumble deep in its own territory would turn into a 30-yard field goal by Irvington’s Adam Rebello with 2:54 left in the third quarter to give the Vikings the lead.
“We’re putting the ball on the ground and we have to correct that,” Finley said. “Having a touchdown called back, not scoring from the [3-yard line], we should be able to score from there all the time.”
Washington would respond with their power running game, with the tandem of Jaime McHenry and LaJarie Mabry as the main workhorses.
Mabry, who finished with 93 yards rushing on 19 carries, would score on the Eagles ensuing possession, recovering his own fumble for a touchdown that gave Washington a 21-16 lead with 11:56 left.
With a little over five minutes left in the game, the Vikings were facing a Fourth-and-4 from their own 30-yard line, but Shank would complete a 10-yard pass to Lee, who initially appeared to drop the ball, but hung on for the first down.
On Third-and-12 from the Washington 15-yard line, Lee hauled in Shank’s pass for the game winning score.
Shank finished 6-for-11 for 46 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and added 55 yards on the ground with another touchdown.
“It was crazy,” Shank said of the go-ahead touchdown. “I threw it, got hit, looked up and saw the team celebrating. It was great.”
I: 3:44 — Ariel Hercik 4-yard run (Adam Rebello kick good)
W: 4:34 — Jamie McHenry 1-yard run (Adam Badi kick good)
W: 2:21 — Peter Tran 19-yard return off blocked punt (Badi kick good)
I: 5:03 — Jack Shank 6-yard run (kick failed)
I: 2:54 — Rebello 30-yard field goal
W: 11:56 — Lajarie Mabry recovered fumble in end zone (Badi kick good)
I: 1:19 — Raeshawn Lee 15-yard pass from Shank (kick failed)