EAST WENATCHEE — The Eastmont football team looked like it had turned the proverbial corner Friday in the early part of its game against Moses Lake at Wildcat Stadium, but the Chiefs chipped away at the lead the Wildcats built, and eventually time ran out with Moses Lake on top.
Sophomore quarterback Nick McGill and senior running back Brian Burt shone bright in the first quarter as the duo produced three touchdowns and a 20-7 lead. But the teams traded big play after big play in the second quarter, and the game went into halftime tied at 28-28. Moses Lake controlled the second half and eventually sealed a 49-42 victory after being granted a dual-recovery on an onside kick.
“It was a tough one, that’s all I’ve got to say,” Eastmont head coach Doug McGill said after the game. “… We got some really nice plays out of Brian again. I thought Nick took another step tonight, he showed a lot of poise on the offensive side. Defensively, there were too many blown coverages and too many missed assignments. We knew they would put us in one-on-ones, and it was the same story.”
Burt started the game by returning the ball 69 yards to the Moses Lake 21. Two plays later, McGill found the end zone, but the Chiefs answered on their first possession with a 26-yard touchdown run. Early indications of an offensive shootout came on the third drive of the game when Burt scored for the first time of the game by finding the gap and powering through a defensive back for six.
“In that zone running system they run (Burt) has a knack for finding that open hole, and he’s pretty good at it,” Chiefs head coach Todd Griffith said.
After the Eastmont defense forced a Moses Lake three-and-out, McGill hit Burt in between a few defenders for a 44 yard strike.
With the makings of a rout in the works, the Chiefs bore down on defense and allowed only one McGill to Dante Weigel touchdown before half, while the Moses Lake defense established the run game and mixed in some long aerial strikes including 43 and 11 yard touchdown passes.
“It was a game of big plays,” Doug McGill said. “You score 42 points, you have to hope you’d get the W.”
While the Wildcats won the battle for field position in the first half — which they capitalized on — the Chiefs flipped the script after halftime of Eastmont’s homecoming game.
“They definitely turned the field in the second half,” McGill said.
Moses Lake scored on its first two possessions — including a 95-yard drive — after the break to secure a 42-28 lead and it appeared that momentum was firmly on the Chiefs’ side. But Burt managed to rip off a few long runs — after being bottled up for several drives — to set up a Nick McGill touchdown from one yard out.
The two teams traded punts for the next three possessions as time ran short for an Eastmont comeback. Phillip Moore lost a fumble with less than four minutes on the clock to set up a Moses Lake touchdown, which all but sealed the victory. But the loss could hardly be blamed on that one play as the Wildcat defense again struggled to make necessary stops.
“Couple blown coverages, couple blown assignments on the touchdown when we had him right there, dead to rights, but that is what the option will do to you,” Doug McGill said. “A team that runs it as good as they do, with the play-action, that’s something that has been our Achilles’ heel this year.”
Nick McGill hit Killion McGinnis for a 30-yard touchdown with less than a minute to make it a one-score game, but an onside kick that looked like it was recovered by the Wildcats was deemed a dual-recovery, which gave Moses Lake possession and the win.
“The onside kick was tough,” Doug McGill said “I thought we had it but they called it a dual-possession. I don’t know how you have a dual possession in that spot.”
Nick McGill finished 19-for-35 for 313 yards. Burt had 97 yards on 19 carries and 88 yards on four catches.
The Wildcats will look to turn things around next week at Davis — a team that the Cats lost to in a similar heart-wrenching fashion on the first game of the season.
“The only thing we can do is pick it up and get ready to play Davis next week, see if we can’t right the ship,” McGill said.