A ball control, smash-mouth strategy nearly paid off for the Kingston Buccaneers Friday night until Sequim rallied with two huge fourth-quarter plays, leading to a thrilling 27-13 Homecoming victory.
The Kitsap County visitors held possession for 38 of the contest’s 48 minutes.
“I realize (Dan) Novick is a really good coach and that’s exactly what they wanted to do in sticking with the running game,” Sequim coach Erik Wiker said.
“Kingston totally wanted to keep the ball out of our hands for the whole game, taking 30 seconds between plays to keep us out of our rhythm and not give us the ball.”
Trailing 13-7, Kingston drove 83 yards in 14 plays, capped by quarterback Sam Byers’ 1-yard keeper with 9:34 left in the fourth quarter. Byers rushed 23 times for 92 yards and two scores.
Attempting the go-ahead extra point, Kingston placement holder Ben McMullen lost control of the snap and was swarmed by the Wolves, keeping the score tied at 13.
The turn-of-the-tide came on the Bucs’ ensuing squib kick, taken after two bounces by Sequim’s Tyler Forshaw at his own 19-yard line.
The mercurial Wolves senior took the ball up the right sideline and — with the help of two critical blocks — evaded a Kingston pursuit 81 yards to pay dirt, giving Sequim a 20-13 advantage with 9:19 remaining.
“He (Forshaw) is a game-changer with the long run and the pick (of Byers at the end of the first half) and that’s just stepping up and making the play — we have lots of guys that fit that category,” Erik Wiker noted. “I think (the kickoff return) was the key play that put them behind the eight ball.”
Emulating the strategy of former Seattle Seahawks coach Chuck Knox, the Buccaneers employed “Ground Chuck,” pounding the ball into Sequim territory, reaching the Sequim 8-yard line before a sack of Byers and a penalty left Kingston facing a fourth-and-goal from the Wolves’ 20-yard-line with 1:25 left in regulation.
Byers faced a heavy
Sequim rush and his pass attempt fell incomplete near the goal line.
Sequim seized the moment on the next scrimmage play as Jack Wiker took advantage of supreme blocking and raced 80 yards up the middle for a score, putting the game out of reach at 27-13. Wiker packed the pigskin five times for 108 yards.
Senior quarterback Frank Catelli, who was crowned Homecoming king at halftime, returned from a one-game suspension, completing 10-of-18 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Catelli now leads Olympic League signal callers with 12 TD strikes on the campaign.
Kingston tailback Nick Tabanera led all rushers with 136 yards on 25 carries.
Erik Wiker credited his defensive backs for pass coverage, along with linemen Clay Charley and Jake Hudson, plus linebacker Josh McElrath for key stops during the contest.
Wiker said he thought the struggle with Kingston will send a message to his squad for future games.
“I think we had lackadaisical practices this week where (the players) thought they would be meeting the Kingston of old where we win by 50,” Wiker mused.
“They (Kingston) played harder and we didn’t come to play a league championship game.”
Kingston (3-3 overall, 2-2 in Olympic League play) established their clock-dominating tactics during the first drive of the contest, moving just 30 yards, but running 10 plays and burning 6 minutes and 40 seconds off the clock, before a fourth-and-4 fake punt run at the Sequim 46-yard-line by Nick Tabanera was stopped a yard short of a first down by the Wolves.
Sequim (6-0 overall, 4-0 in Olympic League play) took possession, driving 53 yards in nine plays, as Frank Catelli connected with Nick Ramirez for an 8-yard scoring pass with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter, giving the hosts an initial 7-0 advantage after Jonathan Campbell’s PAT.
Kingston responded, grinding out 76 yards in 13 plays, culminating in Byers’ 1-yard keeper with 6:02 left in the first half, creating a 7-7 deadlock.
The Wolves moved ahead after a 7-play, 50-yard march with the Catelli-to-Ramirez duo connecting for a score for the fourth time in two games, this time from 4 yards, giving Sequim a 13-7 lead with 4:25 remaining until intermission.
Kingston threatened to tie before halftime with a drive into the Sequim red zone, but Forshaw’s interception of Byers in the end zone with 25 seconds remaining thwarted the Bucs’ opportunity.
Up next week, Sequim travels to Kitsap County for a Thursday night match-up against the Olympic Trojans (2-4 overall, 2-2 in Olympic League play), a 34-28 overtime winner over North Kitsap Friday.
Sequim beat Olympic 63-8 at home last season.
Olympic League standings
Team Lg. Over. PF PA
Sequim 4-0 6-0 233 61
Port Angeles 4-0 6-0 204 82
North Kitsap 3-1 3-3 180 94
Kingston 2-2 3-3 171 89
Olympic 2-2 2-4 75 185
Bremerton 1-3 2-4 74 138
Klahowya 0-4 1-5 62 223
North Mason 0-4 0-6 60 226
Thursday’s Sequim/Olympic game will be broadcast live by Newsradio 1450 KONP. Play-by-play man Dan Kari and analyst Phil Langston will have pre-game coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the kickoff at 7 p.m. on the radio at AM 1450 or FM 102.1 and online with a click of the Sequim Wolves logo at www.konp.com.
Reach Dan Kari at email@example.com.