Football: South Kitsap's upset bid falls short against No. 2 Lions

South Kitsap junior Bryce Broome (37) and his teammates kept it close most of Friday night, but Bellarmine Prep scored 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points to win 38-21 at Joe Knowles Field.  - Jim Robertson photo
South Kitsap junior Bryce Broome (37) and his teammates kept it close most of Friday night, but Bellarmine Prep scored 14 unanswered fourth-quarter points to win 38-21 at Joe Knowles Field.
— image credit: Jim Robertson photo

South Kitsap alumnus long have insisted it was one of the great rivalries in the Narrows League.

That beating Bellarmine Prep in the 1980s — when four games in the series were decided by a touchdown or less — was just as significant as the Gig Harbor rivalry is now.

For the majority of Friday night at Joe Knowles Field, it felt that way again before the second-ranked Lions scored 14 unanswered points to secure a 38-21 win in Class 4A Narrows League play.

The Wolves (3-3 overall, 1-3 league) now have lost two consecutive games as they enter Friday night’s homecoming contest against Mount Tahoma (4-2, 2-2). The Thunderbirds lead South, Central Kitsap (2-4, 1-3) and Shelton (2-4, 1-3) by one game for fourth place in 4A Narrows. That is significant because the top four teams in the league advance to the state play-in game.

After Friday’s game against Thunderbirds, South plays Oct. 21 at Stadium and then closes out the regular season Oct. 28 against CK.

“We have to win out,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said.

Senior quarterback Eddie Meisner feels confident in his team’s ability to accomplish that.

“We’re definitely improving week after week,” Meisner said. “That’s going to be good for us by the end of the season. If we all stay healthy, if we all stay on our feet and keep our heads in it, we’ll be perfectly fine.”

Despite trailing 17-7 at halftime, it appeared that the Wolves might be able to avoid that circumstance. After going three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, South needed just one play to cut the deficit to 17-14 when Meisner found classmate Aaron La Deaux for a 52-yard touchdown pass.

“Eddie and the wide receivers did a great job of executing,” said Sigurdson, whose team was limited to 5 yards on 15 carries. “They were pretty stubborn on defense — you’re not running the ball. We tried different things, but there was no space there. It went backwards all night long.”

The Wolves then were set to force their second consecutive punt when wide receiver Michael Rector dropped a third-down pass from Sefo Liufau. But Rector scrambled for a 6-yard gain on a fake punt down to South’s 33-yard line to gain a first down. Eight plays later — all runs — Liufau scored on a 2-yard run to extend Bellarmine’s lead to 24-14.

But South needed just six plays to respond as Meisner found junior receiver Devon Newquist, who had a career-high 136 yards on nine receptions, for a 41-yard touchdown with 10:53 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Perhaps just as significantly, Bellarmine (6-0, 4-0) was cited for roughing the passer on the play. The Lions then were assessed a personal foul on the extra point. That combination of penalties allowed the Wolves to kick off from the Bellarmine 30. Because of the short distance, South opted for an onside kick, which La Deaux did not hit the required 10 yards. A successful kick could have given the Wolves a short field and an opportunity to take the lead.

“He decided to go right down the middle and it was wide open,” said Sigurdson, adding that La Deaux has not practiced many onside kicks.

South, which limited Rector to three receptions entering the final quarter, then no longer was able to contain the University of Washington commit. Liufau found him for a 62-yard reception down to the Wolves’ 15. Six plays later, the two connected again for a 5-yard touchdown to increase the Lions’ lead to 31-21 with 7:06 left.

“We have so many weapons on offense,” said Rector, whose team averaged 48 points per game entering the contest. “You choose to cover one and then someone else is open.”

Meisner, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns, then spotted tight end Chase Lopez open over the middle. But defensive back Lou Millie snagged the pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.

“I dropped back and I didn’t even see (Millie),” Meisner said. “It was an athletic play.”

The Wolves might not have been in position to be close in the final period without the play of junior Bryce Broome. Broome helped keep the Lions scoreless during the opening quarter when he blocked a 23-yard field goal by Lester.

It was not his only superlative special-teams play.

The junior returned a punt 39 yards to the Bellarmine 11 in the opening period. Two plays later, Meisner found classmate Kaleb Nelson for a 13-yard touchdown pass.

The lead did not last long. The Lions only needed five plays to tie at 7 when junior Isaiah Flynn, who had a game-high 170 yards on 32 carries, scored on a 2-yard run with 10:32 minutes left in the second quarter.

“Everyone’s in the huddle on their knees and he’s just standing up,” Rector said. “He’s an engine going forever.”

Bellarmine scored on all three of its second-quarter possessions. Liufau capped a 13-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior Calvin Chandler. The Lions also took advantage of a fumble by Adam Gascoyne on South’s own 17 with 1:50 left in the half as Ryan Lester later converted a 27-yard field goal.

Bellarmine Prep 38, at South Kitsap 21

Bellarmine Prep           0          17        7          14        —        38

South Kitsap               0          7          7          7          —        21

Second Quarter

SK—Kaleb Nelson 12 pass from Eddie Meisner (Aaron La Deaux kick)

BP—Isaiah Flynn 2 run (Ryan Lester kick)

BP—Calvin Chandler 10 pass from Sefo Liufau (Lester kick)

BP—Lester 27 FG

Third Quarter

SK—La Deaux 48 pass from Meisner (La Deaux kick)

BP—Liufau 2 run (Lester kick)

Fourth Quarter

SK—Devon Newquist 41 pass from Meisner (La Deaux kick)

BP—Michael Rector 5 pass from Liufau (Lester kick)

BP—Lou Millie 27 INT return (Lester kick)

Individual statistics

Passing—Sefo Liufau (BP) 12-22-0-175; Eddie Meisner (SK) 17-27-1-278.

Rushing—Isaiah Flynn (BP) 32-170; Liufau (BP) 7-34; Michael Rector (BP) 1-6; Joe Lovejoy (BP) 12-46; Dominic Boddie (SK) 3-3; Adam Gascoyne (SK) 10—6; C.J. Douty (SK) 1-7; Bryce Broome (SK) 1-1.

Receiving—Logan Hickman (BP) 3-23; Calvin Chandler (BP) 3-33; Rector (BP) 5-108; Lou Millie (BP) 1-11; Devon Newquist (SK) 9-136; Aaron La Deaux (SK) 3-82; Boddie (SK) 1-3; Chase Lopez (SK) 2-25; Douty (SK) 1-19; Kaleb Nelson (SK) 1-12.

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