Zawadzki's three touchdowns help push Cougars past South Kitsap | Football

SILVERDALE — The strategy might have been a draw.

The execution was not.

Central Kitsap capitalized on three South Kitsap turnovers to claim a 21-14 win Friday night in the regular-season finale for both schools. The Cougars (8-1 overall, 5-1 league) earned the Class 4A Narrows League’s second seed entering the state play-in game Saturday and will host Roosevelt.

“That is big,” CK coach Mark Keel said. “But anytime you can play South Kitsap — and beat South Kitsap — is always good for our program.”

The loss, coupled with Olympia’s 29-22 win, pushed the Wolves (6-3, 3-3) into the league’s No. 4 playoff spot. That means South plays next week at undefeated Camas.

“We’re going to keep our heads up,” senior running back Adam Gascoyne said. “Anything still is possible. We’ll get through this.”

Both coaches seemed intent on highlighting their star running backs against undersized defenses. The Wolves capitalized first when Gascoyne, who finished with 203 yards on 35 carries, began the second quarter with four consecutive runs. The last resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run and Gascoyne followed it with a two-point conversion run to give South an 8-0 lead.

The momentum did not last long. CK faced a third-and-15 on its ensuing drive, but junior quarterback Riley Paschal found classmate Andrew Schwieterman near the sideline for a 22-yard completion to the Wolves’ 48-yard line.

“Being a defensive back, the hardest throw to cover is a wounded duck,” said South coach Eric Canton, who was an All-American defensive back for the Wolves in 1985. “That’s exactly what it was. You lose all sense of timing with it. It’s very difficult to cover that play.”

From there, senior running back Nick Zawadzki went to work. Zawadzki, who had 244 yards on 33 carries, took the handoff on five of the next six plays. Zawadzki finished the drive with a 11-yard touchdown run to cut the Cougars’ deficit to 8-7.

But Zawadzki deferred credit from his three-touchdown performance.

“My defense just stepped up,” he said.

CK’s defense did just that, forcing a South three-and-out. A short punt gave the Cougars possession at the Wolves’ 31. That again is where Zawadzki stepped up. After quarterback Logan LaFontaine, who missed the last two games because of an injury, entered the game and found Schwieterman for a 12-yard completion, Zawadzki rushed on the following four plays. The last went for a 7-yard touchdown that helped the Cougars take a 14-8 lead into halftime.

“We knew we just had to come out and keep charging at them,” Zawadzki said. “We knew they weren’t going to give up. They’re a strong team.”

While Zawadzki made plays on offense, CK’s top receivers did their best work on the defensive end. The Cougars thwarted a pair of South drives during the third quarter when Schwieterman intercepted Kevin Whatley and Greg Cleveland followed by recovering sophomore running back Marshaud DeWalt’s fumble with 1:07 left in the third. The latter particularly was damaging for the Wolves as Zawadzki scored on the ensuing play with a 50-yard run to extend the Cougars’ lead to 21-8.

“You can’t turn the ball over,” Canton said. “It’s pretty simple. Hang onto the football.”

But in typical fashion for a rivalry where four of the last five games have been decided by 10 points or less, it was far from over.

South advanced to CK’s 11 to open the fourth quarter before turning the ball over on downs. But the Wolves would not miss on their next opportunity, when a short punt gave them possession at the Cougars’ 39. Eight plays later, Gascoyne scored on a 5-yard run with 4:08 left.

A three-and-out then gave South possession with 1:38 remaining at its own 48. The Wolves moved down to CK’s 19 when a pass-interference penalty negated an incompletion on fourth down, but Whatley was called for intentional grounding and was sacked to end the Wolves’ hopes of becoming the first team to win a road game in the rivalry since their 2005 victory at Silverdale Stadium.

At Central Kitsap 21, South Kitsap 14

South Kitsap 0 8 0 6 - 14

Central Kitsap 0 14 7 0 - 21

Second Quarter

SK-Adam Gascoyne 3 run (run conversion)

CK-Nick Zawadzki 11 run (Hudson Keffer kick)

CK-Zawadzki 7 run (Keffer kick)

Third Quarter

CK-Zawadzki 50 run (Keffer kick)

Fourth Quarter

SK-Gascoyne 5 run (pass failed)

Individual statistics

Passing-Kevin Whatley (SK) 5-18-1-46, Riley Paschal (CK) 3-4-0-25, Cody LaFontaine (CK) 3-5-0-15.

Rushing-Adam Gascoyne (SK) 35-203, Bryce Broome (SK) 2-10, Marshaud DeWalt (SK) 4-35, Li’i Kalima (SK) 2-5, Whatley (SK) 2--2, Nick Zawadzki (CK) 33-244, Terill Anderson (CK) 4-8, Andrew Kain (CK) 1-0, LaFontaine (CK) 1-3, Paschal (CK) 1--6.

Receiving-Broome (SK) 3-34, Tom Simpson (SK) 2-12, Weston Soete (CK) 1-6, Kain (CK) 1--3, Andrew Schwieterman (CK) 3-35, Brion Anduze (CK) 1-2.

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