Sports

Orcas fumble away second straight game

"For the second week in a row, the West Sound Orcas let a game slip through their fingers. Literally.The fumble-plagued Orcas dropped - again, literally - a 25-15 decision to Bellingham last Saturday, July 1, at Memorial Stadium. As in the previous Saturday's 7-6 loss to Snohomish County, the first-year team was its own worst enemy.Last week, I expected to win that game, but we gave it away, Orcas coach Larry Bell said of the loss to Snohomish. Out of the two games, this was the one I was concerned about, because this is a real good team.But if we had played good, sound offense against them, we would've won.West Sound turned the ball over six times, including a fumble at their own 6 yard line that led to the Eagles' final touchdown.The offense struggled in general against a Bellingham defense that stacked the line of scrimmage, beating the Orcas' line by simply outnumbering it. In the two games since West Sound shredded the Oregon Panthers for more than 350 rushing yards - including 223 by Todd Lewis alone - their opponents have paid fanatical attention to stopping the Orcas on the ground.(Bellingham was) sending more than seven people almost every play, said Erik Simonsen, who took over at quarterback for Don Purser for most of the second half. They were really trying to shut down our run. They had their front seven and at least one defensive back up on the line every down.The resulting pressure kept Purser - who was nursing a rib injury suffered in the Snohomish County game - and Simonsen from setting up and finding their receivers, resulting in combined 5-for-20 accuracy.Simonsen's 58-yard connection with Antonio Brown with 6 minutes, 38 seconds remaining supplied one of the few offensive bright spots. Brown, playing his first game with the Orcas, got open deep down the left sideline, and Simonsen hit him in stride two or three steps behind the nearest defender.West Sound's other touchdown came on a 2-yard run by Todd Lewis after a Bellingham fumble gave the Orcas the ball only 3 yards north of the goal line.The defense contributed two points on a safety, Derrick Saulsberry, Simonsen - who started at a cornerback - and Kevin Shearer leading a charge that buried Franklin in his own end zone and made the score 13-2 six minutes before halftime. The Orcas also picked off three of Franklin's passes - one each by Simonsen, Ron Torres and Shawn Hill - sacked him four times and contained his all-league wide receiver, Freeman Baysinger, Jr. Baysinger, last year's NWFL co-Offensive Player of the Year, finished with three catches for 26 yards and the Eagles' first touchdown through the air.The defense was solid again, Bell said of the effort that held Bellingham to 165 net yards, despite spending way too much time on the field. That was a good offense they played against, too. This team had the best defensive front seven we've seen, and the best offense, too.The Eagles showed that offense off on their opening drive, overcoming a procedure penalty and a sack by West Sound's Woody Bell to drive 40 yards to their opening touchdown in a whopping 15 plays - a gambit that ate up 8 minutes, 13 seconds.When the Orcas offense finally got its hands on the ball, it drove for one first down before the first of its turnovers, a fumble by Lewis, surrendered the ball at B-ham's 38.With the Eagles clogging the line of scrimmage, things only got tougher for West Sound, which finished the game with just four first downs, two of which came via penalties.We have three or four running backs dinged up, said Simonsen, whose team managed just 35 yards on 25 rushing attempts. Once we get those guys back healthy, I wouldn't mind seeing us running again.Down 25-2 and with a rushing attack that was going nowhere, though, the Orcas were forced to air the ball out in the second half. But Simonsen, the team's starting quarterback in their May 27 season debut against King County, didn't have much success, completing two of his 11 passes.One of those, though, was the beaut to Brown, a Cincinnati native serving aboard the USS Carl Vinson who turned out for the team in April, but hadn't played until Saturday night because he'd been dealing with a family tragedy.I didn't play at all in the first half, said Brown, a former player at the University of Cincinnati. But the coach put me in, and I got a chance to do something to help the team. It felt good.NOTES: Bellingham totaled five turnovers, losing two fumbles in addition to the three picks. ... Eagles head coach Dan Posa is a Central Kitsap High School product who played for the Cougars until his graduation in 1988. ... Bellingham owner Richard Fleck sang both the Canadian and American national anthems prior to the game, accompanied by Orcas board member Earl Barnes on trumpet for the latter."

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