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La Deaux's big catch helps Wolves earn reward
It's not a cliché to say South Kitsap can have its cake and eat it too.
In this case, it's reality.
A few Bellarmine Prep players ventured into the Wolves' locker room to present them with a couple of sheet cakes. It was a reward for No. 8 South's 15-7 win Friday in Narrows League play at Bellarmine.
The recipient of the dessert was not determined until there was just 69 seconds left in the game. On third-and-four at the Lions' 40, quarterback Gordy Anderson found wide receiver Leon La Deaux for a 12-yard pass. Bellarmine (3-3 overall, 2-3 league) was out of timeouts at that point and Anderson was able to take a knee and run out the clock.
The Wolves (6-0, 5-0) have not lost against Bellarmine since 1989, but wins in the series rarely have come easily. Even their opening 12-play touchdown drive was difficult as they had to convert a pair of fourth downs — one on an encroachment call against the Lions — to score. Robert Issa finished the series with a 5-yard touchdown run.
South lined up for the extra point, but instead of kicking the ball, Isaiah Davis ran it up the middle to take an 8-0 lead.
It was that play-calling creativity that coach D.J. Sigurdson wished he could have displayed more, particularly during the first half. But in the final 19:44 minutes of the half, the Wolves only had the ball for 4:14 on their last three possessions.
"We didn't have the ball in the second quarter for how long?" said Sigurdson, adding that his team also struggled with the Lions' pass rush when it used a one-back scheme. "Three plays? I intended to do more things."
The Lions took the ball into South territory on their final three possessions of the half, but entered the intermission without any points. Quarterback Rick Miller was stuffed on a fourth-and-one at the Wolves' 23. Bellarmine advanced to South's 40 on its next possession, but was forced to punt. The Lions' final possession stalled at the Wolves' 10 and Scott Hanson's 27-yard field goal fell short.
"Bellarmine is wonderful," said La Deaux, adding that Miller was difficult to defend because he disguises the ball well. "And they have a lot of good athletes."
South's first drive of the third quarter also looked like it might fade out. The Wolves faced a fourth-and-12 at Bellarmine's 34 when Anderson appeared to overthrow a pass into the right side of the end zone. But the 6-foot-3 La Deaux, who had 86 yards on six receptions, extended and made the catch.
"Gordy really got into it," said La Deaux, who has received attention from Air Force, Idaho, Washington and Washington State. "It was a beautiful spiral put into only place where a receiver could catch it. I was flashing back to WSU's camp where (Cougars wide receivers coach) Mike Levenseller would say, 'Pump your arms; keep pumping your arms until the last second.' We were lucky we caught up and made a big play as a team."
Sigurdson was more succinct.
"Awesome catch," he said.
Anderson's successful two-point conversion pass was called back because of a false start, but Davis made the extra point.
"We saw something on the film," Sigurdson said. "We thought we could take advantage of it. We didn't get them in that situation, but we still got two points (earlier)."
The tricks were over at that point as Sigurdson shifted back to a ball-control offense featuring Robert Issa. The senior rushed for a game-high 147 yards on 24 carries. That number is only the third-highest total of the season for the senior, who had more yards in the season opener against Kennewick (242) and during last week's 10-0 win versus Central Kitsap (158).
"He was exceptional again," Sigurdson said.
The Wolves needed it with a defense that struggled to contain Bellarmine's option at times. The Lions nearly responded with a touchdown on its next drive, but Ben King lost a fumble at South's 1.
Bellarmine eventually ended South's hopes for a second straight shutout when Scott Comfort scored on a 4-yard run with 4:16 remaining in the game. But the Wolves, who have not held a team scoreless in consecutive games in 10 years, ran out the clock.
"I thought they (the Lions) played really well," Sigurdson said. "Any time you face a team that runs the option well, it's hard to defend. It's kind of an anomaly these days. You don't see it a lot and it's confusing for the kids."
South plays its final road game of the regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Stadium. The Wolves have not lost against Stadium since 1976, but the Tigers (2-4, 2-4) are regarded as one of the league's most improved teams. Stadium lost 27-19 on Friday at Olympia.
La Deaux hopes it is more of the same.
"You don't want to go out and have blowout games," La Deaux. "You want to have competition all the way through."
South Kitsap 15, at Bellarmine Prep 7
South Kitsap 8 0 7 0 — 15
Bellarmine Prep 0 0 0 7 — 7
SK: Robert Issa 5 run (Isaiah Davis run)
SK: Leon La Deaux 34 pass from Gordy Anderson (Davis kick)
BP: Scott Comfort 4 run (Scott Hanson kick)
Passing: Anderson (SK) 11-21-0-125; Rick Miller (BP) 10-19-0-88.
Rushing: Issa (SK) 24-147; Anderson (SK) 3-17; Chris Nenninger (SK) 1-3; Michael Neiner (SK) 2-1; Miller (BP) 17-38; Drake Waters (BP) 4-14; Jordan Rhett (BP) 2-1; Michael Rector (BP) 7-46; Ben King (BP) 5-9; Conor Unruh (BP) 2-13; Comfort (BP) 1-4.
Receiving: Davis (SK) 3-21; La Deaux (SK) 6-86; Mike Alonzo (SK) 2-20; Rector (BP) 3-19; Comfort (BP) 2-21; Waters (BP) 2-8; Unruh (BP) 1-2; Kyle Lamb (BP) 2-38.