SUMNER — The situation was eerily similar to the one the Vikings found themselves in a year ago.
They were facing a fourth down with just a few yards to go; time was winding down and they were trailing by one score — this time, by a field goal.
Senior running back Isaiaha Kahana, their big bulldozer, who had carried the team on his shoulders last week against River Ridge, took the handoff and powered his way through a swarming Fife defense. As he neared the first-down marker, the ball popped loose, flying toward the sideline. The Trojans fell on it, ran out the clock and ended North Kitsap’s season.
Fife walked away a 24-21 victory at Sunset Stadium on Friday night in the first round of the 2A state tournament, reminiscent of the one-score loss to Archbishop Murphy in the 2017 2A state quarterfinals, in which the Vikings were also stopped on fourth down as they drove to tie the game.
“We ask them to leave it on the field every week and we did that,” North Kitsap head coach Jeff Weible said. “No one can be disappointed with their effort. Sometimes you make a couple of mistakes that don’t allow you to win a football game.”
For the second week in a row, North Kitsap had to deal with a talented, fleet-footed signal-caller in Fife’s Gannon Ginnis, who rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Ginnis, standing at a rangy 6 feet, 2 inches and 175 pounds, was more of a straight-ahead runner, with a little more strength and a touch less finesse to his game, lacking the electric speed of River Ridge’s Tomasi Manu. But with good vision and decision-making, he was able to find the room to make some big gains, especially in the red zone.
“I was surprised they were able to run the football as well as they did against us,” Weible said. “Their coach did a great job of mixing it up.”
And it was Ginnis who opened the scoring with a one-yard run in the first quarter, driving the field after an interception by Elias Faitala.
The Vikings answered when Riley Solis, with one hand bandaged up, hauled in a pass from Andrew Blackmore and took it 69 yards for a touchdown.
Kahana scored a pair of second half touchdowns and led North Kitsap with 125 yards from scrimmage — 94 rushing yards on 19 carries and three receptions for 31 yards.
After Blackmore connected with Allsop for a 44-yard gain, Kahana hit paydirt for the second time to tie the game at 21. But on the ensuing drive, Gabriel Duenas hit a 23-yard field goal for Fife with 4:19 to go to put them ahead.
“I thought we’d have one more big play than them,” Green said.
John Jones brought the sideline to life with a long kick return to give the Vikings good field position near midfield on their last drive, but a few moments later, it was the Trojans who would be celebrating as the clock melted to zeroes.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing,” Green said. “I mean, for me, I still wanted to play, but I’m glad we came out and fought until the end.”
Fife 24, North Kitsap 21
NK 0 7 7 7 — 21
FF 7 0 14 3 — 24
FF — Gannon Ginnis 1 run (Duenas kick)
NK — Riley Solis 69 pass from Andrew Blackmore (Laura kick)
FF — Ginnis 19 run (Duenas kick)
NK — Isaiah Kahana 5 run (Laura kick)
FF — Ginnis 19 run (Duenas kick)
NK — Kahana 4 run (Duenas kick)
FF — Duenas 23 field goal
Rushing — NK: Kahana 19-94, 2 TD; Williams 7-29, Blackmore 4-28, Solis 1-4, Jones 2-1. FF: Ginnis 26-109, 3 TD; M. Samuelu 10-51, Faualo 8-51, Faitala 5-28.
Passing — NK: Blackmore 6-12-155, TD, INT. FF: Ginnis 2-8-15.
Receiving — NK: Solis 1-69, TD; Allsop 1-44, Kahana 3-31, Wetzsteon 1-11. FF; Faitala 1-12, Samuelu 1-3
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.