Timberline 7, Peninsula 3
(Lacey, WA) The Timberline Blazers knew they had to depend on their defense in this showdown for the Leauge Championship and the #1 seed heading into the crossover play-offs. The Blazers came into the game with a 5-1 record in league play and 6-2 overall while the Seahawks were undefeated at 60- and 8-0. One of Timberline’s defeat was a forfeit to Yelm whom they beat but a player with an expired physical got into the game causing the forfeiture.
So Peninsula had wrapped up at least a share of the new South Sound Conference Championship and a win would clinch the outright title and #1 seed. A Timberline win would give the Blazers a share of the title and the #1 seed, the loser of this game would be the #2 seed and Capital has locked up the 3rd seed.
Timberline would begin the game with an impressive 11 play drive to the Seahawk 15 where the drive stalled forcing a field goal attempt b y Madison Douglas. Douglas lined it up and booted but the Seahawks defense broke through and blocked it denying the Blazers any points.
The 2 teams battled back and forth for most of the rest of the half with the Timberline defense flat out shutting down Peninsula who didn’t get their first 1st down until less than a minute to play in the half. Their 1st four possessions were 3 and outs, thankfully for the Hawks their punter Ryder Johnson pinned the Blazers inside the 15 3 times and at the 25 on the 4th kick.
The Blazers would finally get the offense back on track in their final possession of the 1st half and moved the ball from their own 13 down to the Seahawk 25. The Blazers used a great mix of runs from Anthony Hathaway and passes from Jacob Henning to Ryan Sapinosa and Tariq Romain.
However, Peninsula looked like their bend but don’t break defense would hold up as they forced a 4th and 12 from the 25. Henning dropped back to pass and lofted a deep pass to Romain in the back of the endzone where we all waited for the official to make an indication and after looking to make sure Romain held on to the ball he raised his arms indicating a touchdown and the Blazers would put up the first points of the night to take a 7-0 lead going into halftime. Little did we all know that would be it for Timberline but more importantly to the Blazers it would be all they needed.
In the 2nd half the Seahawks received the kick-off and got a jolt from the get-go when Evan Johnson returned the kick 65 yards to the Timberline 24. But this Blazer defense wasn’t giving an inch all night and big Alizen Wilson, Jalen Bush, MJ Montgomery and Ty Edmond shut down the middle and off tackle plays all night. Peninsula tried the edge but Isaac Thompson and Tariq Romain kept them in line, Thompson made a highlight reel on how to open field tackle. After moving the ball only 6 yards the Seahawks sent in Danny Jackson for a 35-yard field goal attempt which he easily belted through and got Peninsula on the board trailing 7-3.
The rest of the game was a mix of 3 and outs, field position, blown scoring opportunities and one final chance for the Seahawks. Despite dominating Peninsula, holding them to less than 100 yards of offense while Anthony Hathaway nearly double that himself for the Blazers rushing for 163 yards the score was still just 7-3.
Peninsula took over their last chance on their own 29. The offense started to get rolling with a change in running backs and quarterback the series before where they moved the ball to mid-field before punting it away. Ryder Johnson took over at QB while Braeden Potter and Blake Cantu stepped in to run the ball and this time they would get much further than mid-field.
Cantu and Potter were gaining good chunks just off tackle while Johnson mixed in a pass or two to Jack Filkins and eventually worked their way to the 7 of Timberline on a big run when the Blazers piled on drawing a late flag pushing the ball to the 3 and a half yard line with a 1st and goal and less than 2 minutes to play.
On 1st and goal Peninsula made an odd offensive call sending in their defensive end Deboreae McClain in a Wildcat formation that they had tried with limited success earlier in the game. This did not fool the Blazers as they swarmed him for a 2 yard loss back to the 6 and in the process tweaked his leg and at first glance looked like a serious injury as trainers from both sidelines ran onto the field. McClain eventually walked off under his own power the extent of the injury is unknown.
Peninsula would try a power run and got 2 yards to the 4. Johnson would then roll to his right and throw an incomplete pass trying to hit a crossing route setting up a 4th and goal from the 4 with 1:18 to play in the game. After burning their final 2 time-outs, which meant if they did not make it, Timberline could kneel the game away they again rolled Johnson out to his right. Cantu was crossing and there was an alley when Johnson fired the ball but Blazer linebacker Ty Edmond read it all the way and flashed in front of Cantu and knocked the ball down for the game clinching play. This play would earn our ProActive Physical Therapy Play of the Game.
Edmond told us after the game he saw the play unfold in front of him and knew they were looking for a crease to push the ball. When he saw Cantu cross in front of him he just followed on his hip and already knew he did not need an interception and that he want to slap the ball to make sure it didn’t bounce around and somehow end up in someone else’s hands. When he broke on the ball he says he got it all and slammed it into the turf. The Blazers then snapped the ball 3 times in victory formation to end the game and are now SSC Champions sharing the title with Peninsula but more importantly they have the #1 seed.
Timberline will host Oak Harbor in the cross-over games and are a win away from the State Tournament. Peninsula will host the winner of the Stadium-Lakes game as the #2 seed and Capital will travel to Ferndale regardless of their outcome tonight they have clinched the 3rd seed.
Our Tommy Lowe of the Greene Realty Group Players of the Game had to go to someone on the Timberline defense and so we went with the big guy in the middle Alizen Wilson who was double teamed each and every play and at times took 4 blockers and still had 3 or 4 tackles including a sack for negative yards. He was just a beast in the middle. For Peninsula we went with Ryder Johnson whose punting likely kept Timberline off the board more than their 7 points and nearly pulled the win out coming in late in the game at QB.