The junior had a 58-yard run and returned an interception 55 yards for another score as the Crusaders beat the Fighting Irish 31-13.
There were huge hits, deflected passes and long touchdown runs, but Eastside Catholic junior Sam Adams didn’t hesitate to name his favorite play in the rivalry matchup against O’Dea.
It was on fourth down with 90 seconds remaining, and the Fighting Irish were desperate for a score. Quarterback Emonte Scott put the ball in the air, and Adams slipped in to intercept it. He bullied his way through would-be tackles for a 55-yard touchdown.
“I wanted to be sure they knew there was no chance of coming back,” Adams said.
The message was clear. O’Dea fumbled on its ensuing possession, allowing top-ranked Eastside to run out the clock on a 31-13 win Friday night at West Seattle Stadium. The Crusaders (5-1, 3-0 Metro) handed the No. 2 Irish their first loss of the season and cemented their claim as the top team in Class 3A football.
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“Our turnovers really hurt us,” said O’Dea coach Monte Kohler of Adams’ two picks. “The last one really didn’t matter, but (his) first one kept us from keeping the deficit within a field goal. We can’t make mistakes.”
O’Dea (5-1, 2-1) opened the game in the rain with a solid defensive stand that seemed like it would force the pass-heavy Crusaders into running the ball. The Irish forced the Crusaders to punt, and the kick was shanked.
The Irish scored on a 22-yard run from senior Tamaaulelei Ma’alona with 7:50 left in the opening quarter.
But Eastside junior quarterback Michael Franklin showed he was just getting the jitters out on the first drive. He threw for first downs on three straight passes, and senior Derek Ray capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Then Adams took over.
Adams had an interception on the second play of O’Dea’s ensuing possession in the first quarter. Ray scored the touchdown to make the score 14-7. O’Dea’s next drive stalled after a big tackle by Adams on third down, and the first half ended with Adams and junior Bryan Meier each deflecting passes to halt the Irish.
“We knew it was a big game, so we all talked about giving our 100 percent effort,” Adams said. “It was definitely hard to keep the emotions in control because it’s a big rivalry. We all made big plays exactly when we needed them.”
In the second half, Adams scored on a 58-yard run on Eastside’s first play for a 21-10 lead. After trading field goals with the rain stopped, Adams put a wrap on the game with the interception return. The grass field was punctured with divots, some clumps still stuck to Adams’ cleats.
“It was a monstrous game,” Eastside coach Jeremy Thielbahr said. “Sam played great. And we were able to sub him with Derek Ray and Gio Ursino, who all three made huge contributions. It’s an awesome thing to see these guys be unselfish because Sam, Derek and Gio would start for most teams. They’re allowing each other to make plays and sacrificing for the team.”
Friday, it was Adams night.