The Federal Way Eagles football team’s 18-game winning streak in South Puget Sound League action appeared to be in serious jeopardy against the Rogers Rams.
Rogers bolted out to a 15-0 lead with 6:29 left in the first quarter of play. The Rams’ early game success didn’t phase the Eagles even as they trailed the Rams 29-28 at halftime.
Federal Way (1-0 overall) outscored Rogers 34-13 (0-1 overall) in the second half, cruising to a 62-42 victory in the season opener on Friday night at Sparks Stadium in downtown Puyallup. Federal Way quarterback Keenan Curran carved up the Rogers defense, rushing for a game-high 274 yards. Curran had a 60-yard touchdown run and a 51-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter to quell any threat of a Rams’ comeback. Curran said the Eagles’ weren’t nervous after falling behind by two touchdowns early in the first quarter.
“I just tried to keep my composure. I knew we could fight back if I kept my composure,” Curran said. “We just had to fight back and come back and win it like we did. We have high expectations. Our team motto is commitment to excellence. When you have guys like Chico (McClatcher) and James Black combined with our front-line, it just makes my job so much easier.”
McClatcher’s 53-yard touchdown catch from Curran with 5:29 left in the third quarter gave Federal Way a huge 49-36 lead.
Rogers head coach Gene Bowen said his team had nothing to hang its heads about. The Rams got blown out by the Eagles twice in 2012 and it didn’t happen this year.
“I’m really proud of the way we fought. I don’t think a lot of people expected it to be this kind of game against Federal Way. I’m proud of our guys and I think we have something really good that we can build on from here,” Bowen said. “We just let it all hang out. I think our guys did a great job and made some really nice plays.”
Rogers senior quarterback Grayson Madland had five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). Madland and the Rams’ receivers took advantage of Federal Way’s aggressive man-to-man defense in the secondary.
Rogers receiver Kyler Ooley hauled in a 71-yard touchdown pass from Madland on a wheel route with 9:47 left in the third quarter, giving Rogers a 36-28 lead. Madland also hooked up with Tony Winters twice on touchdown passes and running back Austin Hardin once on an out-pattern for a touchdown. Even though Madland finished with 302 yards passing, it was the yards where he didn’t connect with his targets that were on his mind following the game.
The Rams got inside the Federal Way Eagles 20-yard line three times in the second half and came away empty on each of those occasions.
“To be able to put up 42 points on the No. 3 team in the state and still have three opportunities where we should have scored just goes to show that our hard work has really paid off. The guys up front did a great job tonight,” Madland said. “I’m really excited to see what our team can do this year.”
Madland said not cashing in on every single opportunity is something the team will learn from.
“It’s heartbreaking. We got to work on our goal-line and capitalize on those opportunities for the rest of the year,” he said. “That all comes with work in practice. We just have to make plays.”
Hardin agreed with Madland’s sentiment.
“We worked so hard at driving down the field and were just giving it our all. We should have scored on those three different times we were inside the 20-yard line,” Hardin said. “If we score those, it’s a whole different ball game.”
Despite the loss, Hardin was brimming with pride following the game about how his team nearly toppled last year’s South Puget Sound League champs.
“We were the only ones who really expected it. We have been working so hard. Our team is so talented. I knew we had it in us,” he said.