North Kitsap running back Zeke Harris leads the charge down the field in the fourth quarter. Harris scored the game-winning touchdown with under two minutes left. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap running back Zeke Harris leads the charge down the field in the fourth quarter. Harris scored the game-winning touchdown with under two minutes left. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Bower, Harris lead North Kitsap to dramatic comeback victory

Down two scores with less than seven minutes to go Saturday night at Central Kitsap, the Vikings got their second wind, and it was enough to carry them to a one-point victory over their 3A rivals.

North Kitsap quarterback Colton Bower came up with a big play midway through the fourth quarter, hitting freshman receiver Logan Sloman in stride for a 61-yard touchdown. The missed extra point left them behind 25-19, but the Olympic League MVP had another trick up his sleeve as he intercepted CK quarterback Kalai Pasi with about three minutes to go to set up one final drive.

Bower and junior running back Zeke Harris carried the load as the Vikings made their way down the field. With 1:36 left on the clock, it was fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line. Bower took the snap to his right and made the pitch to Harris, who waltzed into the end zone untouched to tie the game.

Kicking was difficult for both teams on a windy night in Silverdale, but Bower’s final try was good, and it gave the Vikings a one-point lead.

NK stopped the Cougars on the next drive; AJ Fitsemons came up with a big sack on third down, and an incomplete pass gave the Vikings the ball back on downs. It was victory formation time.

“We just found a way to get it done,” North Kitsap coach Jeff Weible said.

Harris had a breakout game for NK. Originally brought in as a substitute, he eventually stayed on for more drives and carried the ball 19 times for 78 yards and the game-winning score.

“I was nervous the first couple of plays, but I got used to it after a couple of hits,” Harris said. “It felt good, though.”

Bower had little trouble picking up where he left off last season. The dual-threat quarterback picked up a combined 218 yards passing and rushing and threw for three scores.

His first aerial strike got NK off on the right foot as he found Fitsemons open in the end zone for a 16-yard score with 5:09 to go in the first quarter.

But the offense stalled— there were some dropped passes, some penalties and occasionally some confusion on the field. The Vikings wouldn’t score again until late in the third quarter.

“We haven’t played football for fourteen months” because of COVID-19 delays, Weible said. “Some of that stuff is to be expected.”

Meanwhile, CK’s offense took flight. Pasi threw a deep bomb that found Chandler Lindstrom in perfect stride for a 70-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive. Running back Joshua Willis punched one in from 3-yards out, and the Cougars had a 13-6 lead after one quarter.

Willis struck again from 12 yards out on a long drive to open the third quarter. But the Vikings seemed to get a second wind. They weren’t tired, or gasping for air, it seemed; they just needed a big play to turn things around.

“I give Coach [Dave] Snyder and Coach [Chris] Richardson a ton of credit for that,” Weible said of his team’s fitness.

They got what they were looking for with 4:35 left in the third quarter as Bower found Lincoln Castillo for a 20-yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 19-13.

That set the stage for the dramatic fourth quarter, but things were still looking a bit grim as Pasi hit receiver Vincent Mitchell on a 38-yard gain on third-and-long. A few plays later, Kouper Hall bulled his way into the end zone from 5-yards out.

But NK continued to get stronger, and their playmakers eventually guided the team to victory. There won’t be many games, and there will be few familiar opponents as they joined a different league this season, but the goal remains the same for the Vikings.

“We’re looking at it as, we have to win every game to be the best in Kitsap County,” senior linebacker Cache Holmes said. “We already believe that, but now we have to prove it. Beating these guys was the first step to getting up the ladder.”

North Kitsap 26, Central Kitsap 25

NK 6 0 7 13 — 26

CK 13 0 6 6 — 25

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

NK — AJ Fitsemons 16 pass from Colton Bower (kick failed)

CK — Chandler Lindstrom 70 pass from Kalai Pasi (Cannon kick)

CK — Joshua Willis 3 run (kick failed)

Third Quarter

CK — Willis 12 run (kick failed)

NK — Lincoln Castill0 20 pass from Bower (Bower kick)

Fourth Quarter

CK — Kouper Hall 5 run (kick failed)

NK — Logan Sloman 61 pass from Bower (kick failed)

NK — Zeke Harris 2 run (Bower kick)

Individual Statistics

Passing — North Kitsap: Bower 10-25-161, 2 TDs, INT. Central Kitsap: Pasai 10-23-222, TD, 2 INT.

Rushing — North Kitsap: Harris 19-78, TD; Bower 9-57; Wanzek 6-31; Walsh 4-8; Castillo 1-4. Central Kitsap: Willis 19-98, 2 TDs; Almonte 2-12; Hall 4-11, TD; Pasi 8-1.

Receiving — North Kitsap: Sloman 5-90, TD; Gore 3-35; Castillo 1-20, TD; Fitsemons 1-16, TD. Central Kitsap: Lindstrom 4-104, TD; Almonte 3-57; Mitchell 1-38; Williamson 2-23; Willis 1-0.

North Kitsap defensive back Lincoln Castillo comes away with an interception in the first half against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap defensive back Lincoln Castillo comes away with an interception in the first half against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap quarterback Colton Bower rolls out to make a throw. He passed for 161 yards and three touchdowns against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

North Kitsap quarterback Colton Bower rolls out to make a throw. He passed for 161 yards and three touchdowns against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kelly Wanzek takes an early handoff in Saturday night’s game against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kelly Wanzek takes an early handoff in Saturday night’s game against Central Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

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