Season ends for Cats

SPANAWAY — It happened like a flash.

Using one big play after another, the ninth-ranked Bethel Braves broke the spirits of the Oak Harbor football team, then cruised to a 51-28 victory on Saturday night.

“We didn’t execute right away...,” OHHS head coach Dave Ward said. “It was one of those things that just compounded itself.”

Bethel, on the other hand, operated like a fine-tuned machine from the opening kickoff.

The Braves tallied 337 yards of total offense in the first half, en route to a 44-6 halftime advantage.

Running back Jake Smith was a huge part of that first-half success, carrying the ball 11 times for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

“Their running back (Smith) was a lot better than we thought he’d be,” Ward said.

Despite a rough start Oak Harbor did have a window of opportunity to get back in the contest.

After Smith scored on a 27-yard run up the middle on the first play of the second quarter, momentum began to swing in favor of the Wildcats.

Down 22-0, with 9:52 remaining in the second quarter, running back Gabe Vest provided a spark for OHHS. The junior broke through the line of scrimmage on a counter, then spun free of three tacklers before completing a 37-yard TD run.

The Wildcats then surprised Bethel on the following kickoff when Cory Fakkema laid down a perfect on-side kick to the middle of the field. OHHS recovered the ball at the Brave 49 with an opportunity to inch even closer before halftime.

Unfortunately for Oak Harbor, a comeback wasn’t in the cards.

After getting to the Bethel 34, the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs.

Just three plays later, Brave quarterback Chuck Hogue connected with wide receiver Jamil Turner on a 16-yard lob pass to the right corner of the end zone. Turner, who had five catches for 115 yards, had just caught a 47-yard pass on the previous play.

“That kid is as good of a receiver as I’ve seen in a long time,” Ward said.

The downward spiral continued on the first play of Oak Harbor’s next possession.

Trying to set up a screen pass, sophomore quarterback Marshall Lobbestael threw the ball into the hands of defender Charles Woodward, who returned the ball 27-yards untouched into the end zone.

Lobbestael, who was starting his first ever post-season game, had a difficult outing, completing 8-of-20 passes for 54 yards and four interceptions.

Despite the large deficit, the Wildcats didn’t give up in the second half.

After allowing Bethel a touchdown on its first offensive possession, OHHS out-scored the Braves 22-0 over the final 18 minutes of the game.

“The guys played hard — I was proud of them,” Ward said. “They held it together.”

Senior Cash Parker connected with junior Cameron Kays on a 23-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left in the third quarter. Vest, who had 10 carries for 123 yards, added a second touchdown in the fourth quarter and Dan Raymond punched in one more with under two minutes remaining to round out the scoring.

Although it wasn’t the way they wanted to end the season, most everyone was still holding their heads high walking off the field Saturday night.

“It was a great year,” senior James Blunk said. “This was a down part, but we got this far and no one expected us to.”

The Wildcats ended their season second place in the WesCo North at 6-2 in league and 6-4 overall. Bethel (9-1) earned a first-round state game this weekend at Capital.

Bethel 51, Oak Harbor 28

Oak Harbor 0 6 8 14—28

Bethel 15 29 7 0—51

Scoring—Bethel: Smith 1 yard run (Parker run); Bethel: Castro 51 yard run (Pierce kick); Smith 27 yard run (Pierce kick) Oak Harbor: Vest 37 yard run (kick failed). Bethel: Turner 16 yard pass from Hogue (Smith run). Bethel: Woodward 22 yard interception return (Pierce kick). Bethel: Smith 16 yard run (Pierce kick). Bethel: Burton 2 yard run (Pierce kick). Oak Harbor: Kays 23 yard pass from Paker (Parker run). Oak Harbor: Vest 2 yard run (Parker kick). Oak Harbor: Raymond 1 yard run (Parker kick).

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