Tides sweep past SK for 14-9 win

South Kitsap got a dose of its own medicine in Gig Harbor Thursday night.

The Wolves had reeled off six straight wins since their season-opening loss to Snohomish and came into the Narrows League matchup riding a dominating defense and an offense averaging nearly 42 points per game.

In the end, however, it was the Tides who rose to the challenge by throwing an impregnable defense at the Wolves and emerging with a 14-9 victory.

The win was the first by Gig Harbor in the history of the series, as the Wolves had beaten them in the past six meetings. It also assures Gig Harbor of the No. 1 seed going into the state 4A West Central District playoffs next week, thanks to Shelton’s 48-27 win over North Kitsap.

South Kitsap, saw its four-year streak of Bridge Division titles snapped, will have to travel next week to play the No. 2 seed from the Greater St. Helens League — either Evergreen or Mountain View — in their playoff opener.

The Tides’ were especially successful in shutting down South Kitsap tailback Shannon Haney, who managed only 104 yards on 23 carries.

The Tides’ Gary Cole, meanwhile, rushed for 133 yards on 22 carries. He was aided and abetted by Bucky Marsh, who added 77 more yards on 19 carries.

In all, Gig Harbor racked up 225 yards on the ground against SK’s previously stingy defense.

The Wolves, by contrast managed only 213 yards of total offense.

Still, SK had a chance to stage a remarkable comeback. Trailing 14-9 with 4 minutes and 35 seconds left in the game, the Wolves’ drive bogged down and they elected to punt. But the snap sailed over punter Patrick Kelly’s head for an apparent safety.

Kelly, however, scrambled to the corner of the end zone and lofted a long pass to teammate Charlton Mason, who was wide open for a 19-yard gain and a first down to preserve the drive.

The Wolves couldn’t capitalize on the miracle, however, as two plays later Gig Harbor’s Jake Merrill intercepted a tipped Josh Fullington pass to preserve the victory for the Tides.

The game’s other key play was an earlier SK turnover. Trailing just 7-3 at the intermission, the Wolves halted a Gig Harbor drive on the first series of the second half at their own 37.

The Tides’ Ian Hooper launched a coffin-corner affair to the near corner of the field, where SK’s Richard Fein waited to make a return. The ball, however, caromed off Fein’s chest and into the welcoming arms of Gig Harbor’s Ray Cooper, giving the Tides a first and goal at South Kitsap’s 7-yard line.

Two plays later, Cole raced in from the six to give Gig Harbor a 14-3 lead it would never surrender.

The Wolves came back with an Anthony Aguirre two-yard scoring run later in the quarter, capping a 62-yard drive, but the two-point conversion failed.

Earlier in he drive, a long run by Haney and a 60-yard completion from Fullington to Tommy Patrick were nullified by penalties.

Coming into the contest, Gig Harbor ranked fifth in scoring defense in the state, and they showed why against South Kitsap.

The Wolves (6-2, 6-1 Narrows League) will open the post-season Nov. 8 in Vancouver.

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