Orcas put on offensive, defensive show

Back home Saturday night on the softer, kinder grass field of Bremerton’s Memorial Stadium, the West Sound Orcas swam through the tackles of the Oregon Panthers in a Northwest Football League game to win a close one 16-13.

Although the Panthers’ running game accounted for two touchdowns and nearly 75 percent of their total offense, Orcas defenders Eddy Llamas, Kevin Shearer, John Collyer and Eric Furuheim knocked the Panthers back on numerous possessions, and kept them to limited yardage in scoring opportunities.

The Orcas (2-4 NWL, 3-4-1 overall) scored first after five minutes of play with a 59-yard rushing drive down the middle, iced with Larry Bates’ two-yard touchdown.

Brian Kinsey rushed and popped passes at quarterback for the starter Ramon Martinez, still sore after bruising his hip in a hard tackle last week.

On the Panther’s first possession, the Orcas put up a concrete wall, holding the visitors to a single yard — sparking a sterling defensive pattern seen throughout the first half.

Every time the Panthers (3-4, 5-4) pushed the ball, the Orcas responded with strong tackles and numerous sacks.

On offense, Kinsey launched a couple of passes in the first half, but when Martinez stepped in to start the third quarter, the game became a militant rushing war.

After the Orcas’ Darnel Curry picked up a Panther fumble, slipped a few tackles, and sprinted 55 yards before being tackled at the 1-yard line, Bates ran in his second TD of the night with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter.

Bates said he just kept the goal line in his vision throughout the entire game, and he tried to push the ball towards the weaker spots in the Panther’s line.

“With Bates, we wanted to pound their defensive tackles,” said Orcas coach Steve McDaniel.

On their next possession, the Panther’s Marvin Broussen ran in a touchdown, but minutes later Bates and Todd Lewis ran the ball right back into the Panthers den, setting up a dramatic moment.

On fourth down, far from the goal posts, Orcas’ Kevin Shearer booted a 47-yard field goal, sending shock waves through the stands.

“I haven’t kicked in years,” said Shearer after the game. “My field goal stuff works a lot better spur of the moment.”

The kick nearly matched Shearer’s best, a 48-yard bomb when he played at North Mason High School.

After Shearer’s kick, the Panthers popped in one more touchdown, bringing the score to 13-16, but that was all they got. The visitors’ final drive was brought to a sudden stop when Llamas broke through a five-man front to sack Panthers quarterback Jason Pauker.

The Orcas held on in the end, bringing the fans to their feet in their final home game of the season. To Orcas coach Steve McDaniel, the win meant something else.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said after the game. “I’ll take a win any time but I saw a lot of mistakes out on the field today.”

The team loses focus at least a quarter every game, McDaniel said. Next year he wants the Orcas to be a “Four-quarter team”— offering solid pressure every second instead of occasionally.

The Orcas play former coach Bob Mulligan’s Washington Cavaliers (0-6, 1-7) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Evergreen State College in Olympia. They end their season at offensively deficient Pierce County (1-5, 1-5) Aug. 25.

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