Eagles ride Cowboys to win

Grounded a week ago by a strong Sequim team, the Klahowya Eagles took flight again, adding even more meaning to the “Save a horse, ride a cowboy” bumper sticker.

The Eagles (4-3-, 1-2) dominated the Chimacum Cowboys (0-7, 0-3) from the very first play en route to a 49-7 blowout Thursday at Silverdale Stadium for their first divisional win of the season. Ten different Eagles had carries, supporting a ground game that gained 210 yards overall.

Klahowya coach Brad Hamblet was happy with the win.

“It was a nice win,” Hamblet said. “We played pretty well. In the first half, we had a couple mistakes. in the second, we played really well.”

On the Cowboys’ first play from the line of scrimmage, Eagle Brandon Bennett forced Chimacum junior Jstyn Guerrero to fumble for a 5-yard loss. After a gain of five and two incomplete passes, the Cowboys were forced to punt. With Guerrero back to punt as well, he just got the ball off after dropping the low snap. That was the first of many problems punting for the Cowboys.

Klahowyas offense also responded well, scoring on their opening drive. Senior Zac Becker, who had a huge day running for 64 yards on 11 carries and adding an interception, scored his only touchdown from three yards out to make it 6-0 Klahowya after a missed extra point by kicker Bryce Wick.

Defense created offense on their next drive, as a fumble recovery off a bad Cowboys pitch by Bennett would give them field position on their own 48, about the worst starting position the Eagles would have. After driving down behind big runs by Becker, Isaac Solaita and Brent Collier, quarterback Nick Bayard kept it himself and scrambled in from 3 yards out. A failed pass for the two-point conversion failed, giving the Eagles a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles were able to score twice more in the last four-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter. A bad punt gave them the ball at the Chimacum 25-yard line, and more running, capped by Collier’s first touchdown of the game from a yard out, made it 18-0. Bayard would keep it this time and get in for two. After Eagle Cody Kirkpatrick nearly missed a pick on the Cowboys first play following the score, Becker got his pick on he next. That set up a one play, 18-yard touchdown drive, Bayard’s only complete pass in the game, to tight end Jeff Young. Bayard would again keep the two-point attempt and run it in, making it 28-0.

Chimacum coach Dave Hammericksen said while their age difference was a factor, he can’t blame the loss entirely on age.

“It’s a big factor,” Hammericksen said. “We only had one senior playing. We’re young, but there are a lot of young teams in the league.”

Hamblett said the biggest difference between his team this week and against Sequim was their ability to keep themselves in the game.

‘We’ve been working on those execution things,” Hamblet said. “That was the biggest part. Last week, we had over 300 yards on Sequim. But penalties put us out of position to score. That was our goal: Keep that from happening.”

And they did. The Eagles also scored on the opening drive in the second half, as Collier got in for his second of the game from 10 out. He finished with 54 yards on seven carries and two TDs.

Klahowya would score two more times in the third, including a 22-yard scamper by Gabe Rucker after he recovered a punt blocked by Jerid Sturman-Camyn, and would lead 49-0 at the end of the quarter. Bayard also ran it in for his second rushing touchdown. He capped a strong day rushing for 42 yards on five carries with two scores, converted two two-point conversions, and threw for a score.

Hamblet said not only was he pleased his seniors gave a strong performance on the night of their recognition, but also because it gave the younger players a chance to see some action.

“It’s senior night and they played well,” Hamblet said. “They performed well in front of their mom and dad, everyone that came to see them. And they played well enough to give the young guys a chance to play.”

Defense came up big for Klahowya all night, as senior Dustin Praxedes had three sacks, Carey Rayburn had a fumble recovery, and Nathan Lax added a sack. A scary moment for the Eagles did come in the fourth quarter, when Lax went down with an injury to his right knee. He would be helped off the field, and was seen on crutches after the game.

The Cowboys only score came on their last drive of the night and Hammmericksen said the score was big for his team.

“We’re always looking for positive things,” he said. “We’ve got good kids playing hard with a first-year head coach. We’ve just got to play hard and stay competitive.”

Becker, one of Klahowyas seniors, was extremely excited after the game.

“It’s glorious,” Becker said. “It’s just awesome. Here on senior night, getting a big win. We’re making a statement for the playoffs. Coming off those losses, it’s huge. People need to know what we can do.”

As for his own outstanding day, Becker took the modest approach, saying his efforts alone could not have won.

“That just helps the team,” he said. “One guy can’t play for the whole team. When everyone plays their position well, it all comes together.”

Hamblet agreed, saying the team will have to continue to play well if it wants to have a chance against Life Christian Academy, whom Klahowya will meet Friday at 7 p.m. in Tacoma.

“We played really well as a team tonight,” Hamblet said. “Everybody played there position the way they need to. It’s hard to pin-point. Everyone played together tonight. You just hope when you come back out you can capture some of that feeling, that desire, when you finish a game.”

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