The Shadle Park football team’s offense was productive as usual, but the defense stepped up in timely fashion Thursday night.
Behind six sacks, one critical fumble recovery and an interception, the Highlanders stymied the Mead Panthers 33-7 in a Greater Spokane League game at Joe Albi Stadium.
It was Shadle’s first win over Mead since 2004.
The Panthers (3-3) suffered a third straight loss. The last time that happened was in 2002 when Mead finished 2-6 with four consecutive defeats to conclude the season.
Shadle (5-1) remained in a first-place tie with Gonzaga Prep. Either Ferris or Mt. Spokane (both 4-1) will rejoin them at the top after the two face off tonight at 5 at Albi.
“Turnovers were huge for us,” Shadle coach Alan Stanfield said. “(Brandon) Gleese got an interception coming right out of halftime that really started the half off well, and then that turnover (fumble recovery) was huge after we went for it on fourth down, it was huge not to give up points there.”
Stanfield was talking about the recovery safety Jake Geldbach made at the Highlanders 11-yard line after linebacker Evan Douglas stripped the ball from Mead running back Anthony Gold when the Panthers appeared they might even the score at 14-14.
Instead it turned out being a 14-point swing. Shadle marched 89 yards on nine plays with quarterback Brett Rypien finding Skyler Kelley on a 2-yard pass that gave the Highlanders a 21-7 lead with 17 seconds left in the half.
“That was probably the turning point in the game,” Stanfield said.
And the defensive line spent frequent time in Mead’s backfield, coming up with six sacks – two apiece from Dale Hagan and Zach Price. Zaq Munson and Alec Harmon also had a hand in things.
“Those are four guys rolling through three spots,” Stanfield said. “They were winning the battle up front. And then the linebackers are running free. They were flying around. It was good to see.”
A week after Rypien’s record-setting 613-yard performance he finished with 361 yards, completing 30 of 47 and four TDs.
Last week Tanner Pauly led the way with 10 receptions. Thursday it was Skyler Kelley’s turn. He ended with 10 catches for 124 yards.
Stanfield expected Kelley to have a good game.
“We liked the matchup,” he said. “Their better corner(back) played over on Pauly. Anybody in our offense is capable of having 10 catches in a night.”
Shadle pulled away in the second half when Rypien hit Pauly for TD passes of 45 and 7 yards.
“I just did my best to get open, and Brett found me,” Kelley said. “We had a plan for the defense, and we had a plan for me to have a big game.”
Geldbach praised Douglas for doing the heavy lifting on the fumble recovery.
“He made a great play,” Geldbach said. “It went on the ground and I just jumped on it. We did our job, the D-linemen occupied blocks and the linebackers filled holes and spilled it to us. It was good team defense.”