(Lacey, WA) The Gig Harbor Tides and the Timberline Blazers came in with identical records of 2-0 in South Sound Conference play and 3-1 for the season. The winner would remain tied with the unbeaten and defending state Champion Yelm Tornados.
This game was a defensive slugfest with neither offense ever really getting on track. Both teams did get a couple of drives in the 2nd half but many mistakes and a ton of penalties and great defense played a big roll in limiting both offenses.
It looked like the game was headed to halftime 0-0 when Gig Harbor QB Benji Park threw a last second interception as time expired just launching one into the endzone trying to make something happen and in the end he did. The INT was taken off the board when the official called a pass interference on Timberline. The Blazers coaches were not happy and it appeared a rather tight call but the Tides looked to take advantage and now had a shot at a 34-yard field goal which Tides kicker Boone Leverett drilled right down the middle on the untimed play to give the Tides a 3-0 lead.
Between the stingy defenses, mistakes and penalties the game never got into a big shoot-out until the final 2 drives. Prior to that Timberline scored on their 1st drive of the 2nd half with a 1-yard plunge from QB Ramar Reid, the PAT was no good and it was 6-3.
Gig Harbor would score early in the 4th after a huge 4th and 13 fake punt by the Tides punter Henry Blake who sprinted to his right and up the sideline for a gain of 23 yards and a 1st down. Park then threw a TD pass to Drake Mattheis for a 16 yard connection, the PAT was good and Gig Harbor took a 10-6 lead.
Timberline would take over with 5:53 left to play in the game on the Tides 40-yard line. The Blazers committed to the run running 10 plays with Ronaldo Salazar and Reid carrying most of the balls picking at the Tides defense in 3-8 yards chunks and worked it down to the GH 1-yard line. Reid then wedged himself into the endzone for the 6. Timberline went for 2 and Reid hit Darrell Gipson in the flat and he bulled his way in for 2 to make it 14-10 with just 2:02 left to play in the game.
The Blazers got a good kick-off and Gig Harbor had it on their own 22 with 1:54 to play. How this game had gone it looked nearly impossible for the Tides to pull this off. Park got started hitting Liam Green for 14 yards to get out to their own 36. Park then hit Mattheis for 11 followed by a completion to Matthies again to the Blazer 42. The two would connect again down to the 29 and with 3 time-outs and plenty of time had the whole playbook open to the Tides offense.
Gig Harbor then dialed up a brilliant screen pass to Ryland Geldermann who scampered to the Blazer 15 and with 50-seconds still to play and still with all 3 time-outs. The Blazers then took a time-out to try and regroup and hang on to their 4 point lead. On the play Park dropped back and had good protection and fired a laser to Matthew Ehler into the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown with 45-seconds to play in the game. The PAT was good and Gig Harbor took a 17-14 lead.
The Tides would ultimately pick-off a Blazer pass then take a knee to end the game and secure the win. Gig Harbor improves to 3-0 in SSC play and 4-1 overall while the Blazers fall to 2-1 in league and 3-2 overall. Next week Gig Harbor plays at South Sound Stadium on Thursday against River Ridge. Timberline takes on their crosstown rival North Thurston on Friday also at South Sound Stadium. Both kick-offs are 7p.
Our “Education as a Career” MVP went to the Tides Defensive line and we had to include the Tides punter Henry Blake whose fake punt run was the difference in this game.
Below is our ESN post game show and video highlights plus results of the other SSC games and their full standings.
ESN Post Game Show
Gig Harbor strikes 1st with a 34-yard field goal
The Tides punter Blake Henry with a huge fake punt
Timberline’s Cedric Ragland with a big punt return to set up a scoring drive
Gig Harbor gets the game winner
Other SSC Scores
Yelm 58, North Thurston 7
Capital 21, Central Kitsap 7
Peninsula 45, River Ridge 0
South Sound Conference