Sports

Football: Defense leads Oak Harbor to 13-12 homecoming win

It was a day for the defense, and Oak Harbor’s unit was one-point better than Everett’s in the Wildcats’ 13-12 homecoming win Friday, Sept. 24.

The Wildcats evened their Wesco 3A and season record at 2-2 and handed the Seagulls their first loss of the season.

Oak Harbor knew coming into the game it would have to stop Everett’s dynamic duo of quarterback Spencer McKinnon and halfback Blake Williams. McKinnon, Everett’s leading rusher, was held in check, gaining just 31 yards on 10 carries, and he picked up 25 of those yards on two attempts.

McKinnon has been torching opponents with deep completions this fall, but his longest connection against the stingy OH defense was only 23 yards and the second longest just 12. In all, the Wildcat defense limited McKinnon to only 9 completions in 25 tries for 78 yards.

Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner said, “Being able to slow him (McKinnon) down was big. Our DB’s played exceptional.”

The Wildcat running defense wasn’t bad either. Williams had 54 yard in 14 carries, and the Seagulls totaled 109 in 31 rushes. In all, Everett totaled just 187 yards of offense.

Both defenses played well as both offenses failed to take advantage of good field position and were plagued by mistakes.

Oak Harbor tossed two interceptions (one was returned for a touchdown and the other came in the end zone), and fumbled on the Everett 8 yard line. Everett twice fumbled kickoff returns and had a five-yard punt that gave the ‘Cats possession inside the 20.

Everett scored first when linebacker Aaron Heck picked off a Matt Burgoyne pass and rumbled 38 yards for the score. The point-after kick was wide.

Oak Harbor tied the score with an 81-yard drive at the end of the first period. The drive was spurred by a 24-yard completion from Burgoyne to Josiah Miller and 11-yard runs by Zack Ayer and Sam Wolfe. Burgoyne tossed a seven-yard TD pass to Mike Washington to complete the march. The PAT kick failed.

In the second quarter Oak Harbor was forced to punt from its own end zone and Everett took over at the Wildcat 32. But the Oak Harbor defense held and the Wildcats took over on downs at the 33. That began the game-winning drive.

Burgoyne hit Peter Franssen for 19 yards to get things going, then on a third-and-one from the Everett 39, Burgoyne hooked up with Miller on a short pass that Miller turned into a slick 28-yard gain to the 11.

Ayer carried three of the next four plays and bulled in from the one with 2:28 left in the period. Frank Grecco kicked the all-important PAT.

Oak Harbor drove to the 11 in the fourth quarter but fumbled. The defense held and forced Everett to punt from the end zone. McKinnon shanked the boot and Oak Harbor took over on the 15, but an interception in the end zone ended that threat.

One play into the fourth quarter, Everett began its only sustained drive of the game. Beginning from its own 26, Everett used 15 plays (and overcame a first-and-24 after a holding penalty) to score with 6:40 left to play.

With his offense now moving and his defense playing tough, Everett coach Will Soren elected to go for two and the lead. However, Oak Harbor stuffed Williams just short of the goal line and hung onto its 13-12 lead.

It was three-and-out for Oak Harbor and Everett took over at the Wildcat 42.

The Oak Harbor defense bounced back from the previous Everett drive and forced the Seagulls to punt after three plays.

Oak Harbor began at its own 13 with 3:35 left and Everett held two timeouts. Yards on the ground were hard to come by all game and the ‘Cats needed to run out the clock.

Wildcat offensive coordinator Mike Fisher said he asked his unit, “Can we do this?” Their actions backed up their affirmative response by converting three first downs with seven running plays.

Ayer began the assault by popping straight up the middle for 20 yards. Miller finished it when he gained 15 yards on a third-and-four after Everett’s final timeout.

Fisher said Everett’s defense was “taking away Josiah,” playing wide to keep the speedy Miller from getting outside. That meant more carries for Ayer, who entered the game with just 10 rushing attempts in the first three games. Ayer, though only 160 pounds, battered between the tackles for 74 yards on 31 bone-jarring carries.

Fisher said of Ayer, “He’s a tough kid; he has no motor but 100 percent.”

Burgoyne finished 9-for-25 for 128 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. (Four passes were dropped.)

Miller added 48 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 80 yards.

Oak Harbor finished with 256 yards of total offense.

The Wildcats take on Lynnwood next Friday, Oct. 1, at 5 p.m. at Edmonds Stadium.

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