Turnovers spell doom for South Kitsap

If there is one unwritten rule about playoff football it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.

Saturday night, South Kitsap found that statement to be oh, so true.

Playing in a state preliminary football game for the first time since 2003, the Wolves coughed up the ball five times on the slick turf at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish and Arlington took advantage, qualifying for the Class 4A state playoffs with a 21-6 win.

South, which finished 6-4 and failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year after going a state record 23-consecutive times, turned the ball over five times and was called for five holding penalties, all enough to tilt the game into the Eagles favor.

“You can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “That’s what these games really come down to. (Arlington) just didn’t make mistakes like we did.”

The Wolves killed multiple drives with four fumbles and five holding calls. Making it even more frustrating was the fact the Wolves were moving the ball at will up and down the field all night long.

“Our line was phenomenal, they were doing so well,” sophomore running back Stephan Tucker said. “We just had some mental mistakes out there. We certainly didn't play as good as we’re capable of.”

From the first snap the Wolves took on offense, they had their way with a very pores Arlington defense. South needed just three plays to move 71 yards for its first, and most shockingly, only score.

That’s when the fumbles and the holding penalties began.

After allowing the Eagles to go 82 yards in eight plays to open the game with a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Brett Smith, South forced a quick three-and-out. But facing second and short after a nice 9-yard pass from Kyle Pease to Jason Read, the Wolves were called for holding.

Then they fumbled the ball away.

That was a pattern they would follow throughout the rest of the game.

“I think most of the turnovers were, there were two reasons,” Sigurdson said, “one they ball-hawked and they did a good job of taking the ball away from us a couple of times. The other ones were effort – the kids were trying as hard as they could to get more yards.

“I find it hard to believe that we had that many holding penalties and they had one,” Sigurdson said. “They’re more disciplined I guess. I was just struggling a little bit with a couple of the calls.”

Down 7-6 late in the first quarter, South put together a nice 10-play, time consuming drive that got in sight of the Eagle end zone but ended with another holding penalty followed by a fumble.

The Wolves’ fourth possession followed suite: a nice drive marred by a holding penalty that ended with yet another fumble.

But South, even with all the turnovers and penalties, still trailed by just one point at halftime. And with the way the front six were dominating, the Wolves were, for all practical purposes, in great shape.

Especially when running back Chad Fowler took the first two handoffs of the second half and went for 17 easy yards. But when he fumbled on the third play of the half, Arlington finally took advantage.

Seven plays and 47 yards later, the Eagles led 14-6. And when they recovered an onside kick and then ate up another four-plus minutes, South was in trouble. “We could have hung onto the football better and we could have maintained our blocks better,” senior tackle Joe Beitinger said. “But what can you do? We tried our best.”

South’s next two offensive tries ended in punts after holding calls slowed down potential game-tying drives. The Wolves even caught a break late when Arlington’s Jared Dukleth let the ball slip from his grasp and fumbled forward as he crossed the goal-line for a score that would have put the game out of reach.

But another holding penalty killed another drive for the Wolves and the two teams exchanged punts before Jake Webb scored from 38 yards out with just 13 seconds remaining for the final margin.

Fowler ended the night with 96 yards on 17 carries while Tucker ran for 60 yards on nine tries. Pease was sharp at first, completing his first three throws for 59 yards and ended up 6 of 12 for 98 yards. His last throw, which ended the game, was picked off.

“The most import thing their kids did was hang onto the ball,” Sigurdson said. “They ran hard and hung onto the ball. Our kids ran hard but unfortunately, we didn’t hang on to it as well.”

Webb, who returned from a two-game layoff after suffering from toxic shock treatment, rushed for 177 yards on 25 carries, but was bottled up for the most part by the Wolves defense. The senior had just two carries that went for more than 10 yards and his 38-yard TD run came after the game was decided.

Smith, who has thrown for more than 1,900 yards enter the game, completed 15 of 24 passes for 166 yards, well below his average of 214 per game.

“It was a great comeback from last year,” Beitinger said. “The guys worked hard we played together and got to know each other. We moved forward and got this program back on track I think. We did well.”

Arlington 21, South Kitsap 6

Score by quarters

South Kitsap 6 0 0 0 – 6

Arlington 7 0 7 7 – 21

Scoring summary

A – Brett Smith 1 run (Taylor Brown kick)

SK – Deandre Jackson 10 run (kick failed)

A – Thomas Payne 4 run (Brown kick)

A – Jake Webb 38 run (Brown kick)

Team statistics

South Kitsap Arlington

First down 12 17

Rushes-yards 33-200 39-202

Passing yards 98 166

Return yards 56 30

Passes (C-A-I) 6-12-1 15-24-0

Punts 3-25.6 2-32.5

Fumbles-lost 5-4 4-2

Penalties 10-64 3-25

Individual statistics

Rushing: South Kitsap – Chad Fowler 17-96; Deandre Jackson 3-25; Stephan Tucker 9-60; Kyle Pease 3-9; Orry Perez 1-10. Arlington – Jake Webb 25-177, TD; Jared Dukleth 8-38; Taylor Brown 2-4; Brett Smith 3-(-21), TD; Thomas Payne 1-4, TD.

Passing: South Kitsap – Pease 6-12-1, 98 yards. Arlington – Smith 15-24-0, 166 yards.

Receiving: South Kitsap – Monte Enyeart 1-39; Jason Read 1-9; David Parker 2-24; Jackson 1-13; Jesse Galligan 1-12. Arlington – Payne 5-46; Tim Acker 4-79; Andy Cohoon 3-20; Abe Bourasaw 1-(-1); Darren Edwards 2-22.

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