WESMINSTER – Alex Waked got his first start at quarterback Friday against old-time rival Westminster.
Coincidentally, Marina got its first win of the 2011 season.
Waked, who usually stars at running back and also plays defensive back, stepped in and stepped up at Boswell Field to guide the Vikings past the Lions, 21-14, in the 48th annual Black & Blue game at Westminster High.
The senior found out Monday that he would start in place of junior Deshon Champion who had started Marina's first two games of the season. Waked said his teammates rallied round him in the days leading up to the neighborhood gridiron bash.
Sophomore Shane Green also played a few series in place of Waked during the game.
"I was a little nervous out there but I love the pressure," Waked said. "I played quarterback during my freshman year and a bit during the summer this year, so it wasn't completely new to me. My offensive line really picked me up all week and everyone was really great. It's my senior year, and my last Westminster game, so I was ready to go."
Waked scored Marina's first touchdown early in the first quarter. The Vikings (1-2) led the entire way and held off a late comeback attempt by the Lions (0-2) to give second-year head coach George Pascoe his second-straight win in the rivalry game.
"It's always good to beat Westminster, your rival," he said. "We got off to a great start but then got a bit stagnant and didn't execute as well the rest of the game. But I thought Alex did an outstanding job tonight and I thought our defense played great throughout the entire game."
Waked had a big game against the Lions for the second-straight year. Last year, he rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-26 Marina victory. On Friday, he would have surpassed that rushing total but he had a pair of runs that totaled 124 yards - one a 54-yard touchdown run, that were negated by holding calls against the Vikings.
Marina wasted little time in pouncing on Westminster. The Vikings took the opening kickoff and worked their way down field before Waked punctuated the drive with a five-yard touchdown run on a keeper. On Westminster's initial possession of the game, Marina sophomore linebacker James Myers intercepted Dominic Pendergrass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. Landon Marshall's second conversion kick put the Vikings in front, 14-0, midway through the opening quarter.
But that would be all the scoring by either team in the first half. Marina never mounted any serious scoring drives the remainder of the half but Westminster twice reached Marina territory. One drive ended when Pendergrass was intercepted in the Marina end zone by Vikings senior defensive back Andrew Prichard late in the first quarter. The second ended with two minutes left in the half when Pendergrass threw incomplete on fourth down from the Marina 33.
"Our defense really came through," Pascoe said of a stop unit led by Myers, senior linebacker Nate Asoau and junior lineman Izak Faoa. "I thought we pressured Pendergrass pretty well all game."
Westminster ate up the first 7:38 of the third quarter but had nothing to show for it. The Lions finally scored with 10:41 left in the fourth quarter when Pendergrass hooked up with Robert Aguilar on a 15-yard touchdown pass. That score seemed to pull Marina out of its offensive doldrums. The Vikings responded with a five-play, 62-yard drive that sent them to a 21-7 lead. On the second play of the drive, Asoau churned his way up the middle for an 18-yard gain. Waked followed with a twisting run up the middle that went for 17 yards and after Asoau ran for seven more, Waked found another hole up the middle and went all but untouched to the end zone on an 18-yard run. Marshall's kick made it 21-7 with 8:11 to play.
Westminster scored with 4:06 remaining when Pendergrass hit a wide open Myron Aiava on a 12-yard scoring pass to pull to within 21-14. The Lions got the ball back with 2:45 left but on third-and-seven from the Lions 39, a Pendergrass pass to Aiava went off Aiava's hands, and Marina sophomore defensive back Clay Fischer came up with an interception with 1:10 to go. The Vikings then ran out the clock.
"It feels good to get that first one," Pascoe said of a victory that gives Marina some momentum heading into its next game, a Sept. 23 homecoming game against Warren at Boswell Field. "We'll need to shore up some of our mistakes and eliminate penalties. We'll address those issues when we get back to practice next week."