It was all business for two hours for the Oak Harbor High School football team Thursday, Oct. 26, then it was time to dance.
The Wildcats closed out the regular season by thrashing visiting Marysville-Pilchuck 47-23. Once the work on the field was complete, the Oak Harbor players and their high school classmates formed a giant circle at midfield, as is tradition after a homecoming win, and danced the Hokey Pokey.
Oak Harbor will try to keep the good times rolling when it hosts the winner of Friday’s Chief Seatlh-Seattle Prep game in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The time and date (either Friday or Saturday) are to be determined.
Oak Harbor 47, Marysville-Pilchuck 23
The Wildcats scored in each of their possessions except the last, when they received the ball back for the final play of the game. The efficient scoring was the result of a relentless, yet unspectacular, ground game.
Oak Harbor rushed for 272 yards on 45 carries, averaging six yards a rush. Only six runs went for double digits and none longer than 19 yards.
Mac Nuanez led the ground game with 117 yards on 20 carries.
The glitter on offense was provided by its passing attack. Jordan Bell completed 10 of 14 throws for 159 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Kyle Nickols caught four passes for 81 yards.
“We were sharp on offense,” Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner said. “It was nice to see after last week.” The Wildcats sputtered in the rain a week ago in their 13-7 triple overtime win.
Turner, however, wasn’t pleased with his defense. Oak Harbor surrendered 296 yards, 200 of those came on five plays, including a 59-yard completion on M-P’s first play of the game and 69-yard TD run,
“We were missing tackles, we were making mental mistakes,” Turner said. “Which was a bit surprising because we had been playing good defense all year.” The Wildcats came into the game allowing only 13 points per contest.
“There were a lot of distractions this week with Senior Night and homecoming, and we were coming off an emotional win last week,” Turner said in regard to his team’s lack of focus..
Despite the shaky defense, Oak Harbor kept Marysville-Pilchuck out of the end zone most of the night, building a 47-10 lead.
The Tomahawks (1-5, 2-7) scored twice in the final 5:38, the second score coming after recovering an on-side kick.
Oak Harbor (5-1, 8-1) received the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards for the game’s first points. Nuanez had an 18-yard run in the drive, and Taeson Hardin covered the final nine yards. Eric Closson kicked his first of five successful extra points.
M-P, with the help of that initial 59-yard pass, countered with a 26-yard field goal by Jason Lopp.
TJ Hollins-Passmore returned the kickoff 60 yards, setting up Oak Harbor’s next score. Bell completed a 21-yard pass to Nickols on fourth-and-11 to make it 14-3.
Two plays later, Tomahawk quarterback Kee-An Ballard raced 69 yards to trim the lead to four, 14-10.
From that point it was all Oak Harbor.
Bell and Hollins-Passmore connected on a 13-yard pass on the first play of the second quarter, raising Oak Harbor’s lead to 21-10.
After a Mac Carr interception, the Wildcats scored when Bell hit Aaron Fletcher from 27 yards out.
Oak Harbor led 33-10 at the half when Hardin ran in from the 3-yard line. The TD was set up by a tipped pass caught by Oak Harbor guard Kamren Mebane.
Another interception by Carr started the Wildcats’ first possession of the second half. Oak Harbor then traveled 83 yards, pushed along by three of its longest rushes of the evening (Nuanez, 13 yards; Aaron Martinez, 14 yards; and Andrew Miller, 19 yards). On fourth-and-10 from the 12-yard line, Bell scrambled for 11 yards. He snuck it in from there on the next play, upping the score to 40-10.
The Wildcats’ final scoring drive bridged the third and fourth quarters. The highlight of the 65-yard march was a lateral pass that Nickols turned into a 43-yard gain. Nuanez scored on a 2-yard run.