By Bonta Hill
Washington High School has been hampered by fumbles and penalties all season, and lost three three more fumbles in the 67th-annual Bell Game on Friday against visiting Lincoln, but the Eagles were able to overcome those mistakes in a 28-14 win.
Led by senior running back Jamie McHenry’s 137 yards rushing, Washington (4-2. 3-0) kept the Bell for another year with a grind-it-out win to remain undefeated in the Academic Athletic Association.
The return of senior quarterback Aram Gevandian has significantly helped the Eagles become more balanced on offense, as he threw for 103 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-8 passing, to go along with a rushing score.
“Aram makes us more [dangerous], and he is still using only one hand, but he’s done a superb job and this is a good win for our ball club,” said Washington head coach Karl Finley. “We still seem to not be able to stop fumbling the ball and we had two touchdowns called back, and I told the guys we could become a very good team if we can cut the mistakes down.”
Lincoln (2-4, 2-1), which was coming off of last week’s win over favored Galileo, hung tough with Washington throughout the first half, but trailing 7-0 with 1:33 left in the first half, things started to spiral downhill.
Lined up in punt formation, Lincoln punter Colin Luu couldn’t handle a high snap and the Eagles pounced on the loose ball at the Lincoln 38-yard line.
Two plays later, Gevandian found senior Peter Tran streaking to the back of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead heading into the half.
“We worked on a few things in this game and there were some positive things that came out of this game,” said Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno. “The only thing I didn’t like is that we didn’t handle adversity well. We’re getting better and it’s good to be 2-1 [in league], but I’d much rather be 3-0.”
After a 1-yard touchdown run from Lajarie Mabrey that gave the Eagles a 21-0 lead in the third quarter, the Mustangs quickly responded with a five-play 59-yard scoring drive was highlighted by a 47-yard pass from quarterback Joshua Burnoski to Davion Telfor.
But Washington would squelch any momentum Lincoln mustered by going on a 6-play, 80-yard scoring drive that saw both Mabrey and McHenry break big gains of over 20 yards. Mabrey punched in a 5-yard score to cap the drive and gave the Eagles a 28-8 lead with under a minute left in the third quarter.
“Hats off to Washington, they controlled the line of scrimmage and played a good game,” Ferrigno said. “We didn’t play defense [well] and this is a good lesson for our program. Until we play better defense, we won’t win anything. But we’ll get better.”
For Washington, Finley vowed to get the Eagles offense geared to be more balanced, and with their single-wing rushing attack giving opponents trouble already, a significant passing game could be devastating.
“We still [have] to take some time to get the chemistry down and it’s still tough with this cast on, but we’ll get there,” Gevandian said. “The team has been working hard and nobody is trying to be a hero, but rather just do their assignments.”
W: 10:35 — Aram Gevandian 1-yard run (Adam Badi kick good)
W: 1:07 — Peter Tran 21-yard pass from Gevandian (Badi kick good)
W: 4:16 — Lajarie Mabrey 1-yard run (Badi kick good)
L: 3:08 — Giovanni Catalan 1-yard run (Damon Bannag run on conversion)
W: 10:49 — Mabrey 5-yard run (Badi kick good)
L: 7:38 — Catalan 2-yard run (conversion failed)