It came down to the experienced leaders on a physical defense.
It also came down to a freshman kicker in his first varsity game.
But mostly, Evergreen’s 12-7 win over Hudson’s Bay on Friday came down to guts.
“We knew it was going to be a defensive fight,” said David Crawford, whose interception in the final minute sealed the victory. “We knew their defense was good, but we would have to play better.”
Evergreen (2-1, 1-0) opened 3A Greater St. Helens League play with a win that wasn’t flashy but showed plenty of heart. The Plainsmen fell behind early, clawed ahead, then held tight after Hudson’s Bay drove to Evergreen’s 33 midway through the fourth quarter.
“They bent but they didn’t break,” Evergreen coach Terry Hyde said. “It’s the old adage. They gave up a couple of big plays early, but then made the adjustments they needed to.”
Last year, Hudson’s Bay beat Evergreen on a last-second touchdown pass. After Friday’s win at McKenzie Stadium, Evergreen is the one hoping to ride a wave through the season.
“We knew if we won this game, it would set our season to be really big,” Crawford said.
Coaches like to talk about victories as a team effort. That includes everyone, even a freshman placekicker in his first varsity game.
With Evergreen’s starting kicker dealing with a hip injury, Ely del Angel answered the call. He made field goals of 26 and 27 yards to score points that proved decisive.
“I just listened to the people who told me ‘look on the ball, don’t look at anything else,” del Angel said. “All the people coming at you, you don’t want to pay attention to any of that. You want to pay attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going with it.”
Hudson’s Bay has plenty of explosive playmakers on offense. So it wasn’t surprising that the Eagles struck first on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Brian Perez’Tinoco to Quadrese Teague midway through the first quarter.
But that was the last big play for the Eagles. Evergreen’s defense allowed just 212 yards off offense and two plays longer than 15 yards.
“We know they like to go deep,” Crawford said. “We made sure to always keep an eye on their main players and stay deep. We knew if we did that, they wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
Del Angel’s first field goal put Evergreen on the board with 8:46 left in the second quarter. The Plainsmen then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
One play later, Triston Fich’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Nadil Hodzic gave Evergreen a lead it would not relinquish.
That was largely thanks to a defense that forced four turnovers, including three interceptions.
“The biggest thing is the turnovers and penalties,” Hudson’s Bay coach Ray Lions said. “It’s hard to win games when you turn the ball over four times.”
Del Angel’s second field goal extended Evergreen’s lead to 12-7 midway through the third quarter. The Plainsmen controlled the ball for much of the second half as running backs David Barrera and Trent Hemann converted third downs and wore down the clock.
Hudson’s Bay would reach as far as Evergreen’s 33 with five minutes to play. But a bad snap led to a large loss and ended the threat.
Lions said Hudson’s Bay (2-1, 0-1) will have to put Friday’s loss behind it quickly.
“We talk about winning the battle each day,” he said. “We have an opportunity now to either fold, be soft and complain about some things or to win this day and this battle starting Monday. We can send a message that we’re here to play and win games.”
Evergreen, meanwhile, moves forward knowing it triumphed despite being tested.
“They stayed focused and worked great as a unit,” Hyde said. “There were some mistakes out there, but they persevered, stayed focused and kept fighting.”
EVERGREEN 12, HUDSON’S BAY 7
Hudson’s Bay 7 0 0 0–7
Evergreen 0 9 3 0– 12
HB — Quadrese Teague 48 pass from Brian Perez’Tinoco (Nicholas Campbell kick)
E — Ely Del Angel 26 FG
E — Nadil Hodzic 30 pass from Triston Fich (kick failed)
E — Del Angel 27 FG
RUSHING — Hudson’s Bay: Akilotoa Kaumatule 6-19, Marco Cadiz 11-32, Brian Perez’Tinoco 1-(-5). Evergreen: Eli Vaa-leiataua 4-12, Zyell Griffin 6-13, David Barrera 14-45, Triston Fich 5-(-6), Trent Hemann 7-18, Miguel Cruz 1-3.
PASSING — Hudson’s Bay: Brian Perez’Tinoco 11-22-3-166. Evergreen: Triston Fich 13-21-1-124.
RECEIVING — Hudson’s Bay: Quadrese Teague 3-67, Marco Cadiz 2-19, Myle Artis 2-14, Julio Vara 1-8, Carter Morse 2-44, Akilotoa Kaumatule 1-14. Evergreen: Nadil Hodzic 8-93, David Crawford 4-30, Daniel Barrera 1-1.