Sequim held onto the elusive pigskin just a few more times than the North Mason Bulldogs on Friday night, with the Wolves coming up with a key 28-13 Nisqually Olympic League football victory.
Sequim's win over previously undefeated North Mason (3-1 in league, 6-1 overall), combined with Eatonville's 17-12 victory over Fife, gives the Wolves (4-0 in league, 6-1 overall) sole possession of first place in the Nisqually Olympic League football standings.
A heavy downpour created a slick, soggy quagmire at Bulldog Stadium, with the teams combining for a dozen fumbles.
North Mason (3-1, 6-1) dropped the ball seven times, with six recovered by the Wolves.
Sequim fumbled five times, with four of the miscues grabbed by the Bulldogs.
Sequim built a 14-0 lead by halftime, saw it trimmed to 14-13 in the third quarter but pulled away with two fourth-quarter scores.
"I told our kids at halftime that they out-hit 'em, that's why we were winning,"
Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. "Then they out-hit us for a while."
Sequim quarterback Drew Rickerson completed 12-of-20 passes for 134 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
Travis Decker led the Wolves with 106 yards on 21 carries while Jeremie Oliver had 33 rushing yards and a touchdown. John Textor was the leading Wolves' receiver with five catches for 55 yards and a score.
Sloppy, start to finish
North Mason's Tim Winslow returned the opening kickoff to the Sequim 27, where a hit by the Wolves' Isaac Yamamoto knocked the football loose and Oliver recovered for Sequim.
Wolves senior running back Travis Decker swept over the right side for a 27-yard touchdown run on the game's first scrimmage play.
Freshman Mitch Koonz hit the PAT for a 7-0 Sequim advantage just 14 seconds into the contest.
Late in the second quarter, Sequim's Preston McFarlen recovered Bulldog quarterback Josh Lopez's fumble at the North Mason 28.
A play after, Rickerson found Isaac Yamamoto for a 31-yard gain to the Bulldog 1 yard line, Joey Hall found pay dirt from the T formation, increasing the Wolves' lead to 14-0 with Frank Catelli's PAT with 4:57 to go until intermission.
North Mason made it interesting in the third quarter after the Bulldogs intercepted Sequim's Rickerson at the Wolves' 30 in the opening minute of the second half.
Lopez scored five plays later on a 14-yard quarterback keeper, closing the gap to 14-7 after Kasey Bielec's PAT with 9:58 left in the third quarter.
On the next scrimmage play, the Bulldogs' Caleb Huxford recovered a Travis Decker fumble at the Sequim 32-yard-line. Proving turnabout is fair play, North Mason's Lopez fumbled it right back to the Wolves' Thomas Gallagher on the next snap.
The Sequim drive lasted three plays before Rickerson's fourth-down pass from punt formation was incomplete, turning the ball over on downs at the Sequim 40.
North Mason marched the 40 yards in nine plays, scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run by Tevin Williams, closing the gap to 14-13.
"You and everybody else in the whole stadium knew it was going their way," Wiker said. "The whole homecoming crowd was getting behind them and their kids believed."
However, the North Mason momentum came to a screeching halt when Bielec missed the potential tying PAT.
"I think missing the extra point deflated them a bit," Wiker said, "but (it) encouraged us because we were still ahead."
Moving into the final quarter, the Wolves took control by driving 65 yards in 11 plays, capped off by an 11-yard fade pass from Rickerson to Textor on third-and-goal.
Wiker gave credit for the touchdown play call to Textor. The senior wideout told coaches that Winslow, the Bulldog defensive back, was playing the receiver too far on the inside and that the corner route would be open.
"So I called the play (the fade) and told Drew (Rickerson) to take two steps back and chuck it to the pylon and he'd catch it," Wiker said. "And that's what happened. We were contemplating driving it down on the ground but we wanted to go for the jugular, be champs and go for the win."
Sequim settled the matter after another North Mason fumble with Jeremie Oliver galloping to the end zone on a 30-yard run, boosting the Wolves final advantage to 28-13.
Wiker credited Yamamoto, Sequim's fullback and linebacker, for an excellent game on both sides of the ball.
"He's a winner and that's why we have him leading our defense and he knows what's going on," Wiker said. "Also, getting him carrying the ball, you could see he really wanted to win. When kids see people like that, then they start to follow and they all want to do it."
Wiker gave kudos to Thomas Gallagher and his fellow linemen for their work against North Mason's John Fullington. Wiker also lauded Textor's interception of North Mason's Lopez, Clancy Catelli's big defense hits and Kahn Mills for recovering a pooch kick on special teams.
No cruising by Cruisers
Sequim gets a potentially dangerous Eatonville team at home this Friday.
The Cruisers (3-1 in league, 3-4 overall) are coming off a 17-12 upset at Fife.
Sequim narrowly escaped from Eatonville with a 25-14 win last year.
The Wolves topped Eatonville 21-17 in a state playoff play-in game in 2006 and lost three games to the Cruisers when the two teams were in an old version of the Nisqually League.
When asked if he feared a letdown after the big victory, Wiker said, "I certainly hope not. It dictates off our coaching staff and I don't think we're going to let down at all."
Play-by-play coverage of the homecoming game Friday night is be available at www.konp.com (click on the Sequim Wolves banner) beginning at 6:30 p.m.; the kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Reach Dan Kari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sequim vs. Eatonville Cruisers (homecoming)
When: 7 p.m., Oct. 23
Where: Sequim High School athletic field, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Tickets: $5 for adults, high school/middle school students w/o ASB card; $3 for seniors (60+), middle school students with ASB card, K-5 students; high school students w/ASB cards, preschool students are free