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FOOTBALL | Wolves suffer wild 42-35 loss against Lincoln
Their chins rested on their collarbones as they audibly sobbed on the sideline.
It almost felt as if South Kitsap suffered a season-ending setback rather than a 42-35 nonleague loss Friday night against Lincoln.
But for South coach Eric Canton, it was a refreshing sound.
“We’ve got some guys crying,” he said. “There’s some ownership there. This is what it’s like when you play your fannies off and you just can’t seem to finish it.”
In addition to homecoming for the Wolves (2-5), the game was billed as a battle between coaches’ sons who play quarterback. Lincoln coach Jon Kitna, who was a signal-caller for 15 seasons in the NFL for four different teams, starts his son, Jordan, at quarterback. Canton’s son, Cooper, does the same for South.
The match up did not disappoint as Kitna completed 13 of 20 passes for 171 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Canton responded by finishing 12 of 19 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
But the difference in the game might have come on two plays that did not involve throws. With about 1 minute remaining in the third quarter, a punt snap went several feet over the head of Canton, who was forced to dive on the ball. That gave the Abes (6-1) possession at the Wolves’ 17-yard line. Two plays later, Marcus Johnson scored on an 8-yard run to give Lincoln a 21-20 lead with 11:11 remaining.
“Special teams,” Canton said. “No faster way to lose a game than have a punt get blocked or snap it over [the head].”
South’s problems continued on its next possession when a botched snap was recovered by Lincoln at the Wolves’ 27. Johnson, who rushed for 144 yards on 20 carries, again capitalized on the error when he later scored on a 9-yard run.
“He [Kitna] figured out that we struggle to stop the run,” Eric Canton said.
It was just the beginning on an entertaining, back-and-forth final quarter.
Buoyed by a 35-yard completion from Canton to senior running back Terro Bell, South quickly drove down to the Abes’ 17. On the ensuing play, Bell scored on a touchdown run. Trailing by two points and without regular kicker Nolan Souza, who was sidelined with an injury, the Wolves went for two points. Canton pitched the ball to junior running back Marshaud DeWalt, who found senior wide receiver Logan Knowles open in the end zone for a successful conversion to tie the game, 28-all.
Lincoln responded just as quickly. On its fourth play at South’s 35, Kitna rolled right and threw a perfect pass across his body to sophomore Dionte Simon, who walked into the end zone. A failed extra point gave the Abes a 34-28 edge with 7:14 left.
The Wolves then seemed content to run as much time as possible. Just as it appeared time management might be an issue, Canton found Knowles open down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown to give South a 35-34 lead with 1:27 remaining.
“I like the fact that we answered,” Eric Canton said. “You almost want Logan to get out of bounds on the 1.”
Whatley said he entertained that thought, as well.
“I was thinking about that before the play,” he said. “It’s hard to turn that [opportunity to score] off.”
Special teams again haunted the Wolves as senior Tayvon Murray returned the ball to South’s 43. Two plays later with the ball at the Wolves’ 23, South was flagged for a late hit on Kitna.
“Penalties at really inopportune times,” Eric Canton said. “Big penalties.”
That gave Lincoln the ball at the Wolves’ 12, and Johnson scored two plays later on a 7-yard run. Kitna then connected with Johnson on a conversion pass for the game’s final score.
South had another opportunity when it took over at its own 23 with 20 seconds remaining, but senior linebacker Ike Castro ended the game with an interception and give the Abes their first win in program history at Joe Knowles Field.
It was a dramatic shift from the first half.
After Kitna found sophomore wide receiver Alvin Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown pass, the Wolves responded with an 18-yard scoring throw from Canton to senior wide receiver Dylan Garcia late in the first quarter.
South then capitalized on senior Kyle Carpenter’s interception. On the following play, Bell broke a 68-yard run down to Lincoln’s 2. DeWalt then opened the second quarter with a touchdown run to give the Wolves a 13-7 lead.
They extended their lead to 20-7 at halftime when DeWalt capped a 10-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
That was one reason why it was so difficult for South to watch the lead dissipate during the second half. And, after seeing his team’s reaction to a 28-21 loss Oct. 5 at Olympia, it was refreshing for Eric Canton to see them upset.
“Against Olympia, the bus ride home was a party,” he said. “You’re seniors and you’re pretty much out of the playoff run and you’re laughing and joking on the way home.
“I’m not going to play Dr. Phil on that one. I could not figure that out.”
The players did not leave any emotional mysteries this time as the regular season winds down. South plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Stadium and then concludes the regular season Nov. 1 against Central Kitsap.
“It was really competitive,” Whatley said. “Any time you lose that close it’s heartbreaking no matter what the stakes are.”
Lincoln 42, at South Kitsap 35
Lincoln 7 0 7 28 - 42
South Kitsap 6 14 0 15 - 35
L-Alvin Johnson 6 pass from Jordan Kitna (Travis Nguyen kick)
SK-Dylan Garcia 8 pass from Cooper Canton (kick failed)
SK-Marshaud DeWalt 2 run (Kees Metselaar kick)
SK-DeWalt 4 run (Metselaar kick)
L-Rayshaun Miller 3 pass from Kitna (Nguyen kick)
L-Marcus Johnson 8 run (Nguyen kick)
L-M. Johnson 9 run (Nguyen kick)
SK-Terro Bell 17 run (DeWalt pass from Logan Knowles)
L-Dionte Simon 35 pass from Kitna (kick failed)
SK-Knowles 42 pass from Canton (Metselaar kick)
L-M. Johnson 7 run (A. Johnson pass from Kitna)
Individual statisticsPassing-Jordan Kitna (L) 13-20-2-171, Cooper Canton (SK) 12-19-3-210.
Rushing-Dionte Simon (L) 3-6, Kitna (L) 7--25, Marcus Johnson (L) 20-144, Rayshaun Miller (L) 11-61, Alvin Johnson (L) 1-2, Terro Bell (SK) 17-134, Corey Bell (SK) 11-50, Marshaud DeWalt (SK) 7-20, Canton (SK) 1--1, Team 1--18.
Receiving-M. Johnson (L) 2-30, A. Johnson (L) 4-51, Devan Brady (L) 1-10, J’Maka Love (L) 3-29, Simon (L) 2-48, Miller (L) 1-3, Logan Knowles (SK) 3-75, C. Bell (SK) 2-12, Dylan Garcia (SK) 4-31, Brayden Maynard (SK) 2-47, T. Bell (SK) 1-35.