EAST BREMERTON — The Eagles started well, finished well and a struggled a little in between, but the end result was a third consecutive Nisqually League victory and fourth straight overall.
Sophomore running back Hunter Wallis turned the tide in the third quarter with a 10-yard touchdown run, his third of the game, to give Klahowya a 30-20 lead. Wallis finished the game with 23 carries for 109 yards and also intercepted two passes on defense, one of which he returned for a score. Klahowya went on to defeat Charles Wright, 44-20, on Friday night at Silverdale Stadium.
The Eagles came out of the gates hot, opening up a 23-0 lead after just one quarter. But the Tarriers scored the next 20 points and had cut the lead to just a field goal, 23-20, by midway through the third quarter.
“We just kind of lost our way,” head coach Dan Ericson said. “They made some good plays and we lost our poise a little bit.”
Klahowya’s slide coincided with the loss of two-way lineman Ben Schnabel, one of team’s top players. Schnabel had recorded a sack and several tackles before had to exit the game in the second quarter.
“He was all over them and that changed the dynamic,” Ericson said. “He’s our right tackle on offense, defensive tackle on defense and he was having a whale of a game.”
But Wallis’s touchdown ultimately swung the momentum back in Klahowya’s favor. On the next Charles Wright drive, the Tarriers were threatening to score again until Wallis interception Jacobson at the 8-yard line. The Eagles then marched down the field and quarterback John Hartford rushed up the middle for a 14-yard score. Wallis’s 55-yard interception return for a touchdown was the icing on the cake.
The Eagles intercepted Jacobson five times in all. Drew Dickson and Wallis each had two and Jacob Keppert had one.
“I read the zone right and I was heading back, then I saw my lead blockers and just ran after them,” Wallis said. “I saw them pursuing and I just cut in.”
Hartford led an efficient passing attack, completing 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown and he was in perfect rhythm with receivers Dickson, Keppert, Hayden Steele and Chase Templeton for much of the game. Dickson led the corps with five receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. Keppert had five catches for 53 yards and Templetion hauled in five passes for 52 yards.
“All four of them are great weapons,” Hartford. “You can’t let any one of them open.”
Just a year ago, the Eagles offense averaged 13 points per game, and generally struggled to move the football — a night-and-day contrast with this year’s unit, which has averaged over 38 points per game.
“The experience we have is huge,” Hartford said. “Last year we came in with more than half our starters as juniors and now we’re all out here as seniors. That experience factor is really what’s done it for us.”
With a 3-0 record in the Nisqually League, the Eagles are challenging for a playoff spot. Perennial league champion Cascade Christian comes to Silverdale Stadium in two weeks, but first, Klahowya heads up to Port Townsend to take on a surging Redhawks squad.
“It’s going to be a tough couple of games, but we have a chance,” Wallis said.
Klahowya 44, Charles Wright Academy 20
CW 0 14 6 0 — 20
KL 23 0 7 14 — 44
KL — Wallis 7 run (Dickson kick)
KL — Dickson 29 field goal
KL — Wallis 3 run (Dickson kick)
KL — Dickson 44 pass from Hartford (Kick failed)
CW — Lundberg 19 pass from Jacobson (Kick failed)
CW — Jacobson 1 run (McDougall pass from Jacobson)
CW — Jacobson 1 run (Pass incomplete)
KL — Wallis 10 run (Dickson kick)
KL — Hartford 14 run (Dickson kick)
KL — Wallis 55 interception return (Dickson kick)
Rushing — KL: Wallis 23-109, 3 TDs; Hartford 4-17, TD; Hernandez 2-0, Hays 3-(-1). CW: Nelson 1-15, Jacobson 4-14, 2 TDs; Harris 1-2, Shakoor-Asadi 10-(-7).
Passing — KL: Hartford 16-23-243, TD, INT. CW: Jacobson 20-32-246, TD, 5 INT; Lundberg 2-4-11.
Receiving — KL: Dickson 5-126, TD; Keppert 5-53, Templeton 5-52, Steele 2-9, Stricker 1-3. CW: McDougall 6-79, Lundberg 5-77, TD; Hosannah 3-67, Nelson 4-18, Harris 3-10, Shakoor-Asadi, 1-6.