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Sentinels kick down Eagles
After 47 minutes of smashmouth football with the Klahowya Eagles and Steilacoom Sentinels going up and down the Silverdale Stadium turf Thursday night, it all came down to a field goal to determine the outcome.
After an 80-yard drive that took nearly three minutes off the clock, Sentinel senior Mike Long took a perfect snap and punched the ball in from 26 yards out just inside and above the left upright with 16 seconds left in the game to give the visitors a 24-21 advantage.
With a handful of seconds remaining and 82 yards in front of him, a desperation pass by Klahowyas Jared Ottmar to Joel Periot came up short as the final whistle blew.
The Sentinels believed they had the game won earlier when they blocked a field goal attempt by Jesse Cooper and snatched the live ball and ran it back 80 yards for a touchdown. But an inadvertent whistle brought the ball back for another shot to the delight of Klahowya coach Brad Hamblet and the dismay of Steilacoom coach Eric Miller.
We were closer to them so we were yelling at them to pick up the ball, Miller said. But the refs made the correct call, as mad as it made me.
A second attempt by Cooper was blocked again and the Sentinels took the ball back on their own 20-yard line.
We took a tough call and then we took the ball down 80 yards for the score, Miller said.
The Sentinel drive was powered by senior running back Matt Anderson who carried the ball seven times for 67 yards, capping a night where he had 201 yards rushing on 30 carries and a pair of touchdowns for his most-prolific game of the season. The teams leading rusher, junior Danny Wilm, was held by the Klahowya defenders to 55 yards on 15 carries and no touchdowns after dismantling Eatonville last week.
We really werent planning on using Matt so much, Miller said. But they made a really strong effort that they werent letting us go to the outside. And if they take Danny away, were going to hurt them with Matt.
The Eagles countered with the one-two punch of running backs Rory Lee and Shawn Squires.
Lee scored a pair of touchdowns on 21 carries with 144 yards and Squires carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards.
Its nice to have Shawn and Rory in the backfield because youve got to honor both of them, Hamblet said. They both are capable of picking up big yards and in this offense, this is what you need. Theyre solid runners and you cant key on Rory all the time. If you do that, Shawn is going to get his yards. He came this close (holding his fingers a half-inch apart) to breaking a couple of runs tonight.
Lee, who Miller called The best back in the Nisqually League, was disappointed in his performance since it didnt add up to an Eagles victory.
My stats dont matter if we dont win, Lee said. I could care less.
I figured wed come in here and run them over. But we gave up some pretty big plays on defense which killed us. You cant give up the big plays. They did drive the ball pretty good but those big plays are momentum killers. You work really hard, then on one big play they score on you. It kind of hurts.
We had our chances, Hamblet said. We just didnt convert on them thats all. We executed our game plan exactly the way we wanted to. We had a couple of mistakes like interceptions that stopped us. We were executing on offense very well.
Ottmar had a tough night reaching his receivers, making just six completions on 16 pass attempts for 97 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to K.C. Rolle. A couple of tipped passes ended up in the arms of Steilacoom defenders.
They played good defense and read us, Ottmar said. We played pretty good, theres just the mistakes you cant do nothing about. Its high school football its why we play and why we love it.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 3-2 while the Sentinels are now at the top of the Nisqually League Class 2A standings at 4-0. With only two playoff spots available, Klahowya needs some help to get past Eatonville and Orting.
Its going to be a tough road now, Hamblet said. Someones going to have to help us out along the way and we need to take care of ourselves. I believe this a pretty good football league and every night you have to be ready to play.
The Eagles will attempt to get back in the playoff hunt Friday at 5 p.m. at Silverdale Stadium against North Mason.
But they wont forget the night they came close to upsetting Steilacoom.
Itll be in my memory forever, Ottmar said. Its just going to be a big what if? for the rest of our lives about tonight.