Kennedy Catholic 34, Kent Meridian 21
(Burien, WA) It was homecoming for the Lancers and they were looking to keep pace in the NPSL Cascade Division while the Royals were tired of being close and ready to post a hard fought win. The conditions began good with cloudy skies but mild and dry, that’s not how it ended. The 2nd half of the game was a pounding rain and plenty of wind.
Both teams would take advantage of the 1st half condition scoring 48 of the 55 total points. When the weather hit fumbles, interceptions and miscues would rule the day. Additionally, a flag happy referee crew with an “interesting take” on interpreting and implementing the rules with an officials conference virtually after each play. It took 2 hours to play the 1st half alone and nearly 3 and half hours to complete the game.
Let’s get to the action and it normally doesn’t happen but our ProActive Physical Therapy play of the game came on the 1st drive of the game. Kennedy’s QB Ben Gaoteote hit Primo Ramirez in the flat and took off for 57-yards deep into KM territory. KM then held forcing 4th and long from the 34 when the Lancers went for it because it was too far for a field goal attempt and too short a field to punt.
Gaoteote rolled to his left looking down field when the rush caught up to him and sacked him. When he was hit he fumbled the ball got back up and picked up the rolling ball, found Jared Thurber standing all alone at the 10 threw a dart to him and he strolled into the endzone for the Touchdown. Julius Nguygen kicked the PAT and it was 7-0 at the 10:19 mark.
The Lancers would strike again after a KM 3 and out. This time Gaoteote hit Thurber again on a critical 4th down play. Thurber made an amazing catch sliding between defenders as the ball dropped in for a 1st down. Gaoteote then delivered a pinpoint throw to Trevor Hoffman in the corner of the endzone and Hoffman got his feet down for the 2nd touchdown and the Lancers were off to a 14-0 start.
It looked like the Lancers were going to run away with this one when Thurber picked off Royals QB Ben Woods and returned it 56 yards. But as fast a start as Gaoteote had he did have a couple of miscues that KM took advantage of beginning on this drive when Nates Jones intercepted a Gaoteote pass in the endzone denying KC a 21-0 lead.
The Royals would then put together an impressive 7 play drive led by running back Curtis Hoyle who ripped off a big 29 yard run and finished it with a 4-yard blast. Sahibjeet Singh added the extra point and the Royals were back in this game down 14-7.
KC would answer with another good drive but for the 2nd time in a row the KM defense came up with a big turnover with another interception in the endzone. KM would be forced to punt but Trenton Morrison muffed the catch and the Royals got it back near mid-field. However, the Lancer defense would push them back and force another punt in which Morrison caught and then more than redeemed himself taking it back 79 yards for a Touchdown and KC surged to a 21-7 lead.
The Royals would not be down long and came roaring back led by a 44-yard burst from Hoyle and then Ben Woods found De’Laend Ford for an 11-yard TD strike and it was again a 7-point game 21-14.
There was still 4:45 to play in the half and Kennedy Catholic wasn’t ready to run out the clock and be satisfied with a lead. Morrison would set it up with a huge kick-off return 53-yards. Gaoteote then hit Thurber on a 30-yard TD and with more than 3:00 to play would again double up the Royals 28-14.
After a quick 3 and out the Royals would punt and back came the Lancers. It looked like the Royals would have ended the scoring and headed to half down 14 but a fumble would give the Lancers one more shot deep in Royal territory. Once again Gaoteote would would find his receiver this time Ramirez who would take in the flat pass 20 yards but the PAT was wide and the halftime score was 34-14.
The Lancers put up some big numbers in the 1st half with a total of 284 yards, 238 through the air while KM wasn’t far behind with 221 total offense but 158 on the ground and certainly they could not punch it in nearly enough.
At the end of the half the rain and wind just started and it would get worse as the extended halftime rolled on and by the time the 2nd half started 2 hours after kick-off the 2nd half kick would finally occur.
The 2nd half was marred with an unreasonable amount of penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities. KM would score late in the 3rd quarter again led by Hoyle with a 32-yard run to the 1 and then would punch it in for the TD and the Royals would be back in striking distance 34-21 but get no closer. KM’s defense was much improved and shut out the Lancers in the 2nd half but the 1st half hole they dug was too deep and they fell short.
KC’s defense was led by a great effort from Sav’ell Smalls who had at least 5 sacks, more tackles for losses, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
The Lancers improved to 3-1 in NPSL league play and 5-1 overall while the Royals fall to 1-3 and 1-5. Our Tommy Lowe of the Greene Realty Group Players of the Game were Smalls for Kennedy Catholic, without Smalls the Royals may have been a lot closer in this game. Our Player of the Game for KM was Joe McConico who had a big game on both sides of the ball with 7 receptions for 90 yards and 2 interceptions.
Final numbers KC finished with 397 yards of offense, Gaoteote was 16-30 for 277 and 3 TD’s, Ramirez ran for 74 yards and a TD and caught 6 balls for 94 yards and a TD and Thurber finished with 5 catches, 101 yards and a score. For KM, Woods was 14-26 for 128 and a TD, Hoyle ran the ball 25 times for 197 and 2 TD’s and McConico led the receivers with 7 catches for 90 yards.