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Mercer Island football falls to Newport 28-21 at home | Slideshow
In the first home game of the season, Mercer Island fell to 4A Newport in a non-conference match-up, 28-21.
It became a defensive battle for the Islanders and they found it difficult to turn offensive drives down the field into points on the board.
“We’re focused on the defensive side; I really felt the defense did a good job for the most part,” said head coach Brett Ogata. “Offensively was the problem. We just shot ourselves in the foot. We had the ball, I think, seven times in the red zone, and we scored twice. If we don’t do that and do what we’re supposed to do offensively, this is not even a close game.”
The Islanders gained a quick lead in the first 30 seconds of the game off an 88-yard kick return touchdown by Nick Sinclair for a 7-0 start to the game. That score held through the rest of the first quarter, but Newport earned a touchdown shortly after the second began, following a Mercer Island fumble. Through successive drive, the Knights moved into position and tied the game 7-7 with 11:17 left in the half.
The Islanders ended the half with quarterback Jeff Lindquist running for a 3-yard touchdown in the middle of the quarter for a 14-7 lead. The Islanders defense held Newport off for the rest of the half, giving Mercer Island the lead at the break.
Following the half, Newport found it’s stride, with a long touchdown run from the 46-yard line, but a missed kick kept the team from taking the lead. The score was 14-13.
For two more quarters it was a progressive back and forth game, with the Islanders defense keeping Newport from making much progress and missed chances close to the end zone stopping the offense. The third quarter ended with Newport leading 21-14.
Newport added another touchdown to the list for the night with 5:17 left in the game after a 12-yard run for the 28-14 lead. With just 2 minutes left on the clock Lindquist connected with junior Eric Stefanchik in the endzone to give the Islanders a chance at the last minute tie. But those chances were limited by the Newport offense and Mercer Island ran out of time.
The Islanders will travel to play Juanita next Thursday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. The team is currently 1-1 this season.
“I think we’ll be fine. Hopefully, we can learn from this that it’s a situation where we’re growing as a program and as a young team,” said Ogata about preparing for league play this week. “This week, guys were a little loose after the big win over Seattle Prep. They need to realize that it takes more than one week to be a good team.”
Against Juanita, Ogata said it will be important for the team to capitalize on their chances to score.
“We definitely need to score in the red zone, that’s for sure,” he said. “The turnovers, we have to limit those. We had just way too many of those tonight and really that’s the name of the game. As a whole I think our defense did some good things. The special teams had a heck of a time on the kickoff return. Probably it’s the whole team I’d like to give a shout out to.”