It was only the second game of the season, but the Graham-Kapowsin Eagles were treating it like a game they had to have to stay in the race for the SPSL South crown.
That urgency was on display Friday night at Viking Stadium in University Place.
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead, and the defense held Curtis to six points in the second half, as Graham-Kapowsin held on for 28-12 victory in a matchup of two league contenders.
“This game was definitely a statement game,” said senior cornerback/wide receiver Kahlil Dawson. “We pretty much treated it as a championship game.”
Not looking ahead at a matchup next week with league favorite Federal Way, Graham-Kapowsin (2-0) got off to a fast start on Friday.
The Eagles jumped out to a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter after quarterback Brady Austin hit a sprinting Dawson across the middle. Dawson broke for the sideline and jetted 55 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw the linebackers overflowing so I kind of just saw a spot over the center,” Dawson said. “Brady definitely saw me and got me the ball to make a play. I saw daylight and just broke, and it was off to the races.”
But Curtis (1-1) answered with a score of its own, putting together a five-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Mitchell Hersey’s 27-yard TD run, cutting the score to 12-6 after a failed extra point.
G-K junior halfback Teague James quickly quieted the crowd on the first play of the Eagles’ ensuing possession, taking a handoff and bolting 72 yards up the middle for his second TD run of the half. James finished with 142 rushing yards on 21 carries.
The Eagles got a 29-yard field goal from Nate Harden to push the score to 21-6, and got a gift when Curtis muffed the ensuing kickoff and G-K recovered on the 19 yard line. A play later, Austin hit Conner McLeod with a 6-yard TD pass on a fade route in the corner of the end zone with 11 seconds left in the half, pushing the lead to 28-6.
“This was a league championship-contending game,” Austin said. “We had to get this one or the next one (against Federal Way). We’re going to hopefully get both.”
McLeod finished with three catches for 66 yards, and Austin completed 8 of 18 passes for 149 yards and two TDs.
“We executed and mixed up the ball pretty well like we wanted to,” G-K coach Eric Kurle said. “We took a couple shots the second half and didn’t get it done, and then we got conservative and tried to get the game done.”
Curtis scored on EJ Deveaux’s 4-yard TD run with 2:56 left in the third quarter, but the next three drives ended in a pair of turnovers on downs and an interception by G-K’s Jordan Sumerlin. The Eagles’ defense held Curtis quarterback Scott Wismer to just 112 passing yards.
“(The defense) made mistakes, but we made up for it when the time counted,” Dawson said.