SK conquered in season opener

The pre-game talk focused on Kentwood’s running game. The post-game discussion centered on big plays.

University of Washington commit Demetrius Bronson factored into both equations Thursday as he helped hand South Kitsap a 21-19 loss in the nonleague season-opener for both schools.

The Wolves had just scored to trail 14-12 with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in the game when Bronson, who had 164 yards on 10 carries, raced untouched to the end zone on the first play of the ensuing series to give the Conquerors a 21-12 lead with just more than three minutes remaining.

“The linemen wanted it and the team wanted it,” Bronson said. “They called my name and got me into the end zone.”

As easy as he made it sound, the Wolves had difficulty rebounding.

“That was tough to overcome,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “We need to do a little better job of tackling and we need to generate a little depth.”

Not generally known as a quick-scoring offense, South responded with a touchdown on the eighth play of the next drive as quarterback Chad Tester connected with Devlan Miller on a 13-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to its final with 1:38 remaining.

The Wolves attempted an onside kick, but were penalized the first time before Kentwood’s Mike Roy recovered the second try and the Conquerors ran out the clock.

Similar to last season’s opener against Kentwood, the Wolves looked strong at times but failed to execute in crucial situations. In addition to the Bronson run, the Wolves surrendered a 65-yard touchdown run to fullback Steven Warner in the first quarter that gave the Conquerors a 7-0 lead.

Stephen Tucker, who rushed for 198 yards on 33 carries, helped lead the Wolves’ offense downfield but the team couldn’t capitalize on five trips in the red zone. South had to settle for field-goal attempts

three times — twice inside the 10-yard line — and missed an attempt with two seconds left in the first half that would’ve cut Kentwood’s lead to 7-6. The missed field goal came after Tester found wide receiver Leon LeDeaux with a 47-yard completion down to the Kentwood 5-yard line. Sigurdson said he considered going for it on the play.

“That was (a tough decision), but cooler heads prevailed.”

Tester completed 8 of 19 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in his debut as starting quarterback. The position was split by Chip Pierson and Aaron Smothers last season.

“I really kind of tried to protect him and he did a great job,” Sigurdson said. “It’s nice to see. He did a good job in his first game starting in a big atmosphere. He kept his composure really well.”

South cut its deficit to 7-6 in the third quarter when new kicker Quincy Lyman’s 24-yard field goal first hit the cross bar before bouncing over. But the Conquerors responded on the next drive when the Wolves were

fooled by an option play that left quarterback Luke Angevine racing to the end zone unimpeded for a 28-yard touchdown.

The Wolves took advantage of the game’s only turnover when they recovered a George Singleton fumble at the Conquerors 40-yard line. Tucker capped a 13-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, but Danny Kondikoff and Warner combined to stop a Tester two-point conversion run that would have tied the game.

From there, South watched Bronson take off as they lost against the Conquerors in the opener for a second straight year. Bronson also had the winning score in Kentwood’s 26-20 overtime win last year at Joe Knowles Field. The Wolves haven’t won an opener since their 33-20 victory against Snohomish in 2002.

They return for their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against rival North Kitsap.

“Too little, too late,” Sigurdson said. “We ran out of time. We’ll be OK.”

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