By Bonta Hill
Under the lights at Kezar Stadium, the 2011 edition of the Battle of the Birds was all Washington High School, thanks to a defensive effort that allowed very few openings against Lowell’s double-wing attack.
The Eagles took the rivalry game 23-8, as their defense limited the Lowell running game to 78 total yards on 40 carries and held the Cardinals scoreless until the final minute of the game.
“That offense is tough to stop and we stopped them for [most of the game],” said Washington head coach Karl Finley. “This is the best we’ve done against a Lowell offense in five years, and much credit goes out to the defense.”
Lowell (1-2, 0-1), which had trouble holding onto the ball in their last game against Redwood, fumbled on its first offensive snap, which led to a Lajarie Mabrey 2-yard touchdown run with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
Things didn’t get much better in the first half for Lowell, as they were only able to muster one first down and 25 yards rushing in the first 24 minutes.
“Our offensive line just wasn’t getting it done,” said Lowell head coach Danny Chan. “We have a young line and we have to condition them to grind it out, because we’re a ball-control offense. We just have to go back to the drawing board.”
The Eagles (2-2, 1-0) welcomed back senior quarterback Aram Gevandian, who sat out the first three games of the season with a thumb injury, but with the passing game still a work in progress, Washington got a game performance from running back Jamie McHenry.
McHenry led the Eagles offense with 131 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard score in the first quarter that pushed the Washington lead to 14-0. McHenry also had two receptions for 56 yards.
“It feels good to get this win and we’re not done yet,” McHenry said. “We just [have] to keep getting better every day and work harder.”
With a 23-0 second-half lead, Washington had an opportunity to light up the scoreboard, but three fumbles, an issue that has plagued the Eagles all year, prevented any more chances for points.
“We put the ball on the ground again and we could have had a 50-point game,” Finley said. “The guys continued to play hard. We’ll keep improving, correct a few things, and we’ll get better.”
The Cardinals prevented the shutout with a 1-yard William Kim touchdown run with 27 seconds remaining in the game that was set up by a 37-yard connection from quarterback Will Frankel to Michael McCarthy.
Still, Lowell failed to capitalize off the Washington’s turnovers in the second half.
“It probably hurt to have that comeback win over Bret Harte, and I think their heads we’re in the clouds,” Chan said. “Washington is a great team and hopefully we get to see them in the playoffs. But we just have to get better. It’s as simple as that.”
W: 7:49 — Lajarie Mabrey 2-yard run (Adam Badi kick good)
W: 5:13 — Jamie McHenry 75-yard touchdown run (Adam Badi kick good)
W: 1:10 — Adam Badi 32-yard field goal
W: 8:34 — McHenry 5-yard touchdown run (conversion failed)
L: 0:27 — William Kim 1-yard touchdown run (Michael McCarthy run on conversion)