It missed Halloween by two days, but the Peninsula High School football team used some tricks to treat itself to a 36-12 win over Oak Harbor in the opening round of the playoffs in Gig Harbor Friday, Nov. 2.
Most athletic contests turn on a few key moments, and this game was no different. Peninsula used two trick plays which went a long way in yardage and in determining the outcome of the loser-out contest.
Up 7-6 with a minute left in the first half, Peninsula ran the hook-and-ladder to perfection. QB Austin Filkins hit Alex Weymiller on a hook pattern about 10 yards down field, then Weymiller pitched to Conner Walch who finished the 42-yard play for a touchdown. That helped the Seahawks lead 14-6 at the half.
Peninsula started the game with a seven-play, 66-yard scoring drive, and the Seahawks (8-2) were playing with the swagger of a league champion on a six-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 38 points.
Peninsula may not have expected much resistance from Oak Harbor (6-4), the No. 5 seed out of the Western Conference coming off consecutive losses.
But the Wildcats would not go away. JoJo Webster's interception stopped the next Seahawk drive, and the Wildcat D forced a punt on the four-play drive that followed.
Oak Harbor then got on the board with a 79-yard drive that finished on 12-yard run by Isaiah Trower with 2:39 left in the half. Frank Grecco's PAT kick was blocked.
The drive was kept alive when, on fourth-and-13, quarterback Ian Kolste slipped out of a sack and hit Dakota Sinchak for a 14-yard gain.
In regard to the close first half, Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said, "I think we surprised them a bit."
Oak Harbor received the second-half kick and had a nice drive going before fumbling away possession at the Peninsula 34.
After a few plays and a big gain, the Seahawks had a first down at the Oak Harbor 31. From there they went backward and faced a fourth-and-24.
They next three-minute sequence was the game changer. Out of punt formation, Weymiller took off and was tackled 24 yards down field. A measurement gave the Seahawks a first down by six inches. That half foot may have been the difference in the game.
Instead of Oak Harbor's ball, Peninsula retained possession and scored two plays later to make it 21-6.
On the following kickoff, Oak Harbor muffed the reception and covered the ball at the 10. It was forced to punt from the end zone, and Peninsula returned the boot to the Oak Harbor 16. Two plays with a face mask penalty in between resulted in a Seahawk score. A bad snap on the PAT resulted in a completed desperation pass and Peninsula led 29-6 with 11:25 left in the game.
If that didn't determine the outcome, then the fact that Oak Harbor had to start its next two possessions at its own 12 and 10 did.
It was three-and-out on the first one and Peninsula had another short field to work with, starting at the Oak Harbor 39. Jimmy Price, who finished with 135 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored from 32 yards out and it was 36-6.
Oak Harbor scored on its next drive, which went 90 yards but used up six minutes. Jon Lanningham rushed the final two yards with 2:44 left.
Turner said that going into the game he felt his club could compete with the South Puget Sound League champions: "We were right in it until the fake punt. That was a huge momentum shift."
Fred Webster completed a strong season with 135 yards on 21 carries to lead the Oak Harbor offense. Nine different Wildcats carried the ball, and sophomore Dejon Devroe and freshman Dylan Harris, making his varsity debut, played significant minutes in the absence of starting wingback Sheyenne Sams.
Sams, Oak Harbor's second leading rusher for the season and the lightning to Fred Webster's thunder, missed the game because of mononucleosis.
Turner said Oak Harbor missed Sams cut-back ability which would have been effective against the aggressive Seahawk defense.
Kolste, a three-year starter, finished his career by going 11-for-17 for 90 yards.