Cats get big victory

SNOHOMISH — Rodrick Rumble sat frustrated with himself after fumbling away a punt return midway through the third quarter of Friday night’s game.

His botched return resulted in a quick Snohomish touchdown and left the Oak Harbor sophomore with just one thing on his mind: redemption.

“I just wanted to help my team out because I dropped the fumble earlier,” he said.

He not only got his opportunity, but he received it at the most crucial point of the game.

With 1:00 left in the contest the Panthers pulled to within one point, 35-34, on a 13-yard touchdown run from running back Luke Darling.

All Snohomish needed was an extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Rumble, however, had different plans as he blew past the Panther defensive line and blocked Benji Nutu’s kick just as it left his foot.

“He kicked me right on the hand,” Rumble said. “I got both (ball and foot) at the same time on his follow through.”

Rumble’s blocked PAT sealed a 35-34 win – the first Oak Harbor victory at Snohomish in over a decade.

“After a long game and to reach down deep to find something and make a play when you have to is just pretty amazing,” OHHS head coach Dave Ward said.

Rumble’s block may have sealed the victory, but it was a variety of plays from a number of OHHS players that led to the league win.

After falling behind 14-0 in the contest’s first five minutes, the Wildcats started to gain composure.

Just four plays into its second drive, Oak Harbor worked itself back into the game when junior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael connected with senior running back Gabe Vest on a dump off pass that went 60 yards for a touchdown.

Oak Harbor then tied the score, 14-14 at the 9:20 mark of the second quarter when Vest broke into the end zone from 6 yards out on a counter run.

Snohomish senior Nick Van Duine, however, quickly got Snohomish the lead back with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

“Returns and kickoffs — you can tell they practice that a lot, that’s really a part of their offense,” Ward said.

Oak Harbor tied the game once more before the half when Lobbestael hit Rumble in the middle of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.

That was the second touchdown pass for Lobbestael, who connected on 11-of-17 passes for 212 yards.

The Wildcats took their first lead of the game less than two minutes into the second half when Vest broke a 70-yard run down the right sideline for a touchdown. The PAT from Keith Lokkins missed just wide, leaving the score 27-21.

The Panthers took the lead once more after capitalizing on the Rumble fumble at the 5:03 mark of the third quarter. Quarterback Kevin Rodland connected with Nick Mundell for a 10-yard strike to go up 28-27.

The Wildcats retook the lead for good with 9:52 left in the fourth when Vest broke into the end zone from 1-yard out for his fourth touchdown of the night. The score was set up on a 51-yard pass from Lobbestael to senior wide receiver Cameron Kays on what was arguably the offensive highlight of the night. Obstructed by a defender, Kays reached around with one hand and brought the ball into his body for the catch.

“I just watched it in,” Kays said. “We’ve been practicing that all year and Marshall’s just been putting it in all the right places.”

Offensively, the Wildcats rushed for 217 yards. Senior Sean O’Brien gutted out 18 carries for 89 yards, while Vest carried the ball nine times for 109 yard, three rushing touchdowns and one receiving.

“The O-line did a great job blocking all day,” Lobbestael said.

Defensively, the Wildcats were led by senior linebacker Josh Yoder, who had 12 tackles and sophomore Joe Raymond, who had 10. Junior Jeff Lamont also added an interception.

Ward couldn’t be more pleased with the effort he saw from his team Friday night.

“This was a sign of great character by these kids and willingness to stay calm, hang in there, battle back from a 14 point deficit and believe in themselves,” he said. “It shows they’re coming together as a team and to be able to do that, I’m real proud of them.”

Oak Harbor is now 2-0 in the Western Conference North and 3-0 overall. They face Monroe (2-1) this Friday, Sept. 23 at Memorial Field.

The Bearcats were at the bottom of the league for the past few years, but are on the upswing in 2005.

“If people take them for granted they’re going to beat you,” Ward said. “They’ve got some really good athletes.”

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