Matched against a big, physical and angry foe, Auburn Riverside took one on the chin and staggered off the field with its first loss of the season Friday.
Federal Way took command early, built a 24-point halftime lead and went on to drub the Ravens 34-7 in a North Puget Sound League Valley Division opener at gusty Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
After opening the season with three runaway wins at home, the Ravens didn’t expect to be roughed up on the road.
“We didn’t see this coming. We got hit in the mouth,” said Javon Forward, the Ravens’ standout running back and safety. “We just have to come back strong. We just have to correct our mistakes, get better and go out next week and win a ballgame. It’s as simple as that.”
The Eagles (3-1) matched the Ravens’ muscle up front, shut down their running attack, reducing it to a season-low 141 yards, silenced any big-play air traffic and unleashed a balanced attack of their own.
R.J. Tausili threw for 151 yards and three touchdown passes, two to Ronald Davis III, and Jaylen Bogan ran 33 yards for another. The Eagles, stung by a 34-31 loss to rival Todd Beamer the week before, are back on track as they pursue the Valley title.
“There’s only four divisional games, so you have to care of each of them,” said Eagles coach John Meagher. “Last week was a tough one because it’s an inner-city rival, but it’s like a preseason game. … This is the regular season and it counts. It’s nice in the game that counted we played some of our best football.”
Without Friday night lights – thieves on the eve of the game ripped away wiring that powers the stadium’s system – an original 7 o’clock encounter became an immediate matinee. Auburn Riverside struggled to adjust to the 3:30 p.m. start.
“We didn’t respond to the adversity,” said Ravens coach Marcus Yzaguirre. “We got here earlier than we were supposed to, so we were just sitting and waiting, idle time (but) that’s no excuse.
“Federal Way is a good team. They had a great game plan,” he said. “They came out and hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond very well early.”
Leading 3-0 early in the second quarter, the Eagles smothered the Ravens punter, who dropped the snapped football at the AR 14-yard line. Three plays later, Tausili found Davis for a 13-yard TD with 7:43 left to go in the second quarter.
Auburn Riverside put together its best drive of the day, marching to Federal Way’s 24-yard line. But on fourth-and-3, the Eagles stopped Forward in the backfield and recovered his fumble with 5:38 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles scored six plays later – Bogan’s vault off tackle that boosted the lead to 17-0 with 3:18 left in the second quarter.
Tausili later found Davis again in the seam of the Ravens’ secondary for a 14-yard TD with 21.6 seconds remaining in the half.
“We tried to keep it as normal as we could,” Meagher said of the game’s early start. “It was nice to get a lead at halftime … and we tried to take some of the air out of the ball in the second half … get the clock rolling.
“Overall, (I’m) happy with our kids’ performance,” he said. “(The Ravens) were playing really well. … If you just looked at the statistics, we were going to get our rear ends kicked. But it’s not about statistics, it’s about the guys who are playing, and our kids came to play tonight.”
Federal Way pushed the margin to 34-0 when Randy Ortiz kicked a 37-yard field goal, his second of the game, and Tausili connected with Corey Quinn on a 20-yard TD with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
Auburn Riverside scored on Arthur Tauiliili’s 1-yard dive with 11:34 left in the game. Cade Foster’s fumble recovery at midfield set up the score.
In defeat, Forward had a solid all-around game, especially at free safety, with 11 tackles and an interception.
“I think we’ll be OK. We have a lot of good players,” Yzaguirre said. “We need to get back to the drawing board and continue to do what we do best and clean up the mistakes.”
Which includes penalties. The Ravens were hit with 15 infractions for 119 yards.
“We just needed to step up. We just have to be more physical,” Forward said. “We just didn’t play up to our potential today.”
Auburn Riverside visits winless Kent-Meridian at French Field this Friday. Federal Way hosts winless Kentlake this Thursday. Both division games kick off at 7 p.m.