Football: Cougars run their way to win, state play-in game

At 6 foot 4 and with arms as solid as those on wire-cable suspension bridges, Central Kitsap coach Mark Keel presents an imposing figure.

He asked his team to do the same — on the gridiron. The Cougars (6-3 overall, 4-3 league) accomplished that through the running game in a 31-16 win Friday against rival South Kitsap to earn a spot in the Class 4A state play-in game against KingCo champion Skyline.

“Anytime you can match up against South Kitsap and figure out a way to get a winner, that’s a lot of fun,” Keel said. “They’ve been the team out here on this peninsula for a long time and we respect that.”

The Wolves (3-6, 2-5), who will finish with just their second losing season since 1977, close out their schedule with a crossover game at Lincoln (4-5) at 7 p.m. Friday.

The momentum shifted in the fourth quarter after senior wide receiver Isaiah Davis took an intermediate pass from quarterback Tanner Romo, faked a defender and raced untouched for a 96-yard touchdown with 9 minutes, 42 seconds left to play. But junior kicker Aaron La Deaux’s extra point failed and South trailed 17-16.

“When we saw them miss the extra point, that’s what we were using for our motivation,” Keel said. “We said we’ve got to control the ball, go down and get a score.”

CK did just that as they used six running plays, including one that went 37 yards by Devin Dozier, to find the end zone. Dozier, who had 116 yards on 14 carries, finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to take a 24-16 lead with 6:57 left.

The Wolves’ problems would not end there.

On the kickoff, senior Chris Hutcherson attempted to hand the ball off on a reverse, but it came loose during the exchange and was recovered by the Cougars’ Andre Wesley at South’s 19-yard line. Two plays later, running back Devon Lewis scored on a 12-yard run to give CK a 15-point advantage with 6:07 remaining. Lewis finished with a game-high 140 yards on 24 carries.

“Those are two good running backs,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said of Dozier and Lewis. “They just get stronger and stronger as the game goes.”

The Cougars rushed for 275 yards and averaged 5.7 yards a carry.

“We could tell that they were starting to get tired at the end,” Lewis said. “We just wanted to pound the ball over and over again.”

Any comeback hopes for the Wolves essentially were thwarted on their next possession. After a lateral by Davis to sophomore running back Adam Gascoyne produced a 31-yard gain down to the Cougars’ 40, Romo was intercepted on the following play. It was South’s fifth turnover.

“Mistakes kind of got us,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “You can’t make those mistakes normally and especially against a good football team that can capitalize.”

In addition to winning the turnover margin, CK outgained the Wolves 386-240. Junior running back Dominic Boddie, who was South’s leading rusher this season, gained just 13 yards on seven carries before leaving the game in the first half. Sigurdson said he suffered a concussion and was taken to the hospital for further analysis.

The beginning of the game had a much different feeling when La Deaux intercepted Brett McDonald to put the Wolves at the CK 10. Four plays later, La Deaux kicked a 22-yard field goal to give South a 3-0 lead.

The Cougars responded with a big play of their own on the ensuing drive. McDonald pitched it to a running back, who immediately hurdled it back to the quarterback. McDonald then found Brandon Bynum open for a 66-yard completion down to the Wolves’ 7. Running back Devon Lewis scored two plays later on a 4-yard run to put CK ahead 7-3 with 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first quarter.

But the dramatic plays did not end there. Chris Hutcherson returned the kickoff to the Cougars’ 25, but South again was unable to move the ball and La Deaux’s 36-yard field goal went wide right.

CK then responded with a 15-play drive, the longest of the first half. It culminated with a 20-yard field goal by Weston Soete that gave the Cougars a 10-3 edge into the second half.

The Wolves’ defense forced CK into a three-and-out to start the third quarter and their offense took advantage as a six-play drive culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Romo to junior Eddie Meisner.

But after La Deaux recovered his own onside kick, Romo’s tipped pass on second down was ruled a lateral and was recovered by Jake Brouker. The senior defensive lineman returned the fumble 48 yards for a touchdown and the Cougars never trailed again.

The home team in the rivalry now has won the last five meetings. Neither program has won a road game in the series since South’s 49-42 victory in 2005 at Silverdale Stadium.

At Central Kitsap 31, South Kitsap 16

South Kitsap 3 0 7 6 - 16

Central Kitsap 7 3 7 14 - 31

First Quarter

SK: Aaron La Deaux 22 FG, 5:23

CK: Devon Lewis 4 run (Weston Soete kick), 4:11

Second Quarter

CK: Soete 20 FG, 6:43

Third Quarter

SK: Eddie Meisner 10 pass from Tanner Romo (La Deaux kick), 8:55

CK: Jake Brouker 48 fumble recovery (Soete kick), 7:42

Fourth Quarter

SK: Isaiah Davis 96 pass from Romo (kick failed), 9:42

CK: Devin Dozier 6 run (Soete kick), 6:57

CK: Devon Lewis (Soete kick), 6:07

Individual statistics

Passing: Tanner Romo (SK) 7-15-179-1; Eddie Meisner (SK) 1-2-12-1; Brett McDonald (CK) 6-12-111-1.

Rushing: Dominic Boddie (SK) 7-13; Anthony Williams (SK) 7-18; Jens Johnson (SK) 1--1; Adam Gascoyne (SK) 2-7; Meisner (SK) 1--8; Adrian Cardinal (SK) 4-20; Isaiah Davis (SK) 1-7; Romo (SK) 1--7; Devon Lewis (CK) 24-140; Devin Dozier (CK) 14-116; McDonald (CK) 8-18; Bryce Henderson (CK) 1--2; Maurice Brown (CK) 1-3.

Receiving: Michael Powell (SK) 2-25; Davis (SK) 3-114; Chris Hutcherson (SK) 2-21; Gascoyne (SK) 1-31; Brandon Bynum (CK) 1-66; Lewis (CK) 1-17; Jonathon Fergus (CK) 3-19; Brown (CK) 1-9.

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