Sports

"Orcas lose two quarterbacks, one game"

"For Matt Gates, it was a no-win situation.As a result, the West Sound Orcas took a loss.The Orcas, down to their third quarterback of the evening after injuries to starter Don Purser and backup Ron Torres, dropped a 7-6 decision to the visiting Snohomish County Vikings last Saturday evening at sunny Bremerton Memorial Stadium. It was the Orcas' first loss after two Northwest Football League exhibition victories.It was a tough night, said Gates, who was thrown in at quarterback late in the first half after Torres was taken away in an ambulance. The big thing (for a quarterback) is the timing - the snaps, the steps ... I didn't have any of that.Gates, who started the game at tight end and did the team's punting, said the last time he took any snaps at quarterback was about a week before the first game (May 27).The thing is, I'd love to play quarterback, said Gates, who was the driving force behind forming the first-year Orcas. But not under these circumstances.Gates struggled under center, repeatedly fumbling the exchange. The one that cost the Orcas, though, came with 4 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the game and West Sound clinging to a 6-0 lead. The snap squirted free and was pounced on by the Vikings' Tom Fischer at West Sound's 15 yard line.Snohomish County, which had run up against the brick wall of the Orcas' defense throughout the game, turned things over to running back Mike Harris, who carried four straight times - barely crossing the goal line from 2 yards out on the fourth.Mike Astley's conversion kick gave the Vikings - who came into the game winless in three starts - the lead.Somebody's got to lose, shrugged Orcas linebacker Arnie Otterback. I thought we held them pretty well, but they executed when they needed to. We gave up some turnovers and big plays that made the difference.West Sound coach Larry Bell put it even more succinctly:We slipped up, said Bell of the late turnover deep in his team's own territory that opened the door for the Vikings. We made a mistake, and when you do that, you pay. If we hadn't put the ball on the ground, we'd have had the game.As of Monday, it looked like Gates would be the choice at quarterback for this Saturday's game against Bellingham (6 p.m., Bremerton Memorial Stadium). Starter Don Purser, who suffered a rib injury after completing 4 of 8 passes for 37 early yards, and Torres - who was released from Harrison Hospital later Saturday night with a neck stinger - both are questionable for this week's game.Gates said a week of practice at the position would make all the difference.He was pressed into duty Saturday, he guessed, because I know all the plays and I throw pretty well. Erik Simonsen, who started at QB in the May 27 game, also was available for emergency duty.Gates was part of the Orcas' early domination, converting two fourth-down situations with long runs - one after fumbling a punt snap, the other on a fake punt. He finished as West Sound's leading rusher with 48 yards, edging Jaron Johnson, who carried eight times for 47 yards, and Todd Lewis, who had 15 rushes for 44.On a day when both offense were bottled up by the opposing defenses and their own mistakes, West Sound's Elkanah Montgomery turned in what should've been a game-winning gem. On a second-and-15 play, he swept around left end, picked up several downfield blocks and weaved his way to the end zone.With the Vikings unable to move against West Sound's defense, it looked as if Montgomery's TD would stand up for the final 17 minutes.Yeah, the defense was rock solid, Bell said of an effort that allowed Snohomish County just four first downs, one via penalty. And the offense was moving well, too. We just kept dropping the ball.The Orcas had a chance to take the lead early in the second quarter, but Kevin Shearer's 34-yard field goal try was blocked by the Vikings' Kiko Soto. And they left the door open after Montgomery's touchdown by failing to convert a two-point run. Instead of letting Shearer kick for one point, they ran Johnson over right tackle to try for two, but he was gang-tackled as he tried to escape to the outside."

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