Federal Way overcame six turnovers and got 291 rushing yards from Zeek McNeal to get past a stubborn Issaquah team.
FEDERAL WAY — Federal Way running back Zeek McNeal knows the knock against his team: His team, in the minds of some, isn’t always disciplined.
And against Issaquah on Friday night, No. 2 Federal Way played the part with six turnovers, including four on consecutive possessions in the first half. But while questions might persist about the Eagles’ discipline, there is no doubting their talent.
Short-handed Federal Way proved too much on Friday night in a 24-14 victory over Issaquah in the round-of-32. Federal Way (10-0) will play Rogers (6-4) in the first round of the state playoffs next week.
“It’s just simple discipline,” said McNeal, whose team beat Rogers 41-14 earlier this season. “I know everybody always says, ‘Federal Way isn’t disciplined,’ so that’s something we have to work on the most. This game should have been 24-0 or 35-0.”
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Playing without starters Chico McClatcher, Mike Tate, Rod Jones Jr. — all of whom are sick or injured, but should be back next week — Federal Way struggled at times against a gritty Issaquah team.
Issaquah took a lightning-quick 7-0 lead when Jack Gellatly raced for an 80-yard touchdown 15 seconds into the game.
Federal Way then turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions. Issaquah, which went three-and-out on six of its eight first-half possessions and scored on its other two, couldn’t capitalize.
“We felt like we squandered a lot of opportunities,” Issaquah coach Chris Bennett said.
Federal Way scored in the second quarter when another mistake turned into a golden opportunity. On fourth-and-two, running back Eric Ah Fua carried up the middle and fumbled, but offensive lineman Andy Ah Fua recovered and advanced it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Issaquah responded with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jack Neary to Reed Peterson in the second quarter. But the lead didn’t last as McNeal broke a couple of tackles for a 65-yard touchdown run right before halftime.
McNeal finished with 291 yards on 20 carries without offensive weapons McClatcher, Tate or Jones around him.
“You don’t lose two-way starters and not miss them,” Federal Way coach John Meagher said. “But do I think that had anything to do with the fact it was as close as it was? Well, no. We had an amazing amount of turnovers.”
Federal Way’s defense held Issaquah and Gellatly, who led KingCo with more than 1,500 rushing yards, in check after halftime. JJ McNeal tacked on a 5-yard touchdown run, and Koby Craig booted a 27-yard field to give Federal Way all the points it would need.
Gellatly finished with 104 yards on 20 carries, but he was held to just 11 yards after halftime.
“We weathered the storm,” Meagher said, “and that’s probably what I’m most proud of.”
Federal Way, with all of its lopsided victories this season, had only been in one semi-close game before Friday, and that occurred last week against Curtis when the Eagles led 14-6 at the half before pulling away for a 29-point triumph.
In fact, Federal Way had allowed only 14 points five times this season. But in a game that featured plenty of what Zeek McNeal called gut-checks, Federal Way made enough big plays to overcome its mistakes.
“We haven’t played into the fourth quarter,” Meagher said. “Literally. I’m proud that our kids hung in there and battled.”