Knights get dramatic win against Cougars

The air was icy cool Friday night for Bremerton football team’s Homecoming game against Central Kitsap, but the Knights’ first quarter offense was much, much colder.

When the Cougars reeled off three unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter, the stands spewed with moaning and cussing.

No one from Bremerton wanted this to happen.

It was the night of the Chuck Semancik Victory Park dedication and alumni and ex-football players of Chuck’s era had clustered on the sideline to cheer the Blue and Gold home.

“It just seemed like ‘Oh God, here we go again,’” Bremerton tight end Noah Garguile said.

But the Knights weren’t ready to go quietly into the night.

Even though his team has lost every game so far this season — Garguile was on the team that went 5-4 last year — he knew something could happen, and to the surprise of everyone present, it did.

The Blue and Gold not only erased the 21 point defecit, they never let CK score again — winning the game 33-21.

Although Bremerton finished with fireworks, they started off like they had all season, making mistake after mistake.

After kicking off, Bremerton missed tackles and allowed the Cougar’s Adam Roy to run back for an 89-yard touchdown.

Later, two of Knight quarterback Aubrey Neal’s passes were picked off by CK’s Mike Afalava, which set up two more touchdown runs — one by Bial and one by quarterback Nick LaFontaine.

But as luck would have it, this was not going to be the Cougars’ night.

“Our guys got to where they thought the game was in hand and started doing things defensively on their own and not what they were coached to do,” CK coach Mark Keel said.

With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Neal finally gained control of his passes and found his receivers. He also remembered he could run the option when he needed to.

After connecting on a couple of shots to Garguile, Neal chucked a 40 yarder to Anthony Ragsdale, who ran it in to the endzone to get the Knights on the scoreboard.

The crowd exploded with high-fives.

One of those down on the field in support of Bremerton High was Tony Perry, Class of ’81.

It was the first time he had been back in Memorial Stadium since he was the starting nose-tackle for West High 20 years ago.

“It’s great,” he spat between shouts for the team on the sideline. “I love it. I’m about to lose my voice, but it feels like Chuck’s back on the field again.”

Then Perry turned toward the line of scrimmage and put his hands up to his mouth, “Let’s go Knights! Give them a taste of that gold helmet!”

After CK was stopped on their next drive, Neal started Bremerton’s drive with a hand off to Tieba Bropleh, who slipped a tackle and ran the ball down the sideline 88 yards for an touchdown.

“There it is Tieba, there it is!” Perry shouted.

Later in the second quarter after Bremerton got the ball back, Neal ran for 25 yards for the option for a touchdown, tying the game 21-21.

It was first of three touchdown runs for Neal on the night. He scored on a 73-yard run in the opening drive of the third quarter and a 1-yard keeper also in the third.

“It wasn’t hard to figure out what you’re doing wrong when you’re playing an option team and their quarterback is running all over you,” Keel said. “They started to hurt us and the next thing we know it’s halftime and it’s 21-21.”

Although Garguile, a senior, caught three passes for 60 yards on the night, he also sacked CK quarterback LaFontaine twice for a total of 14 lost yards.

As the game waned on, Bremerton (1-3 league, 1-4 overall) controlled the clock and used the threat of the pass to slip in their running game.

It’s the same strategy they will have to carry out against their next opponents, the Gig Harbor Tides, in an away game on friday.

Defensively, they made the stops they needed to, especially when CK (1-3,1-4) slipped near the goalline, which happened once in the third quarter.

“Watch the middle boys, hold em!” Perry yelled at the Blue and Gold.

“In typical CK luck we come down to the two-yard line and fumble it and they ran it back to their 42-yard line,” Keel said.

After the game, Bremerton’s coach Shawn Perkins had a moment to reflect. “The kids played their tails off tonight,” he said. “We knew all along they could do it. They just executed.”

Keel, while disappointed with the loss, said “There were some good things that came out of that game.”

He credited the play of lineman Keith McKay on both sides of the ball and junior running back Joel Trost, who had a couple of carries.

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