By averaging exactly two points per scrimmage play in the first half, the Grays Harbor Bearcats turned what probably will be their home finale this season into a festive occasion.
Needing only 26 plays to build a 52-0 halftime lead, the Bearcats devoured the overmatched Pierce County Bengals, 79-8, in a non-league semi-pro football contest Saturday night at Stewart Field.
Completing the regular season at 8-2 overall, the Bearcats open playoff Pacific Football League playoff competition July 7 at Bellingham. It would take some first-round upsets for Grays Harbor to host a playoff contest in mid-July
Cameron Smith rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns, while Vincent McCrory amassed 93 yards and three TDs to lead the Bearcat attack last night. Jeff Gates, ordinarily Grays Harbor’s featured running back, missed the contest due to a conflicting commitment.
The margin of victory wasn’t entirely unexpected. The Bengals play in the weaker Northwest Football League and suited up only 17 players for Saturday’s contest.
In any event, the outcome was never in doubt after the Bearcats erupted for 38 points in the second quarter. A running clock was utilized for the game’s final 20 minutes.
Grays Harbor owned advantages of 469-15 in total offense and 22-3 in first downs. Pierce County also had a terrible time with its kicking game, having one punt blocked and nearly whiffing two others.
Despite the lack of competition, Grays Harbor coach Todd Hoiness considered the experience worthwhile.
“There were some fundamentals we needed to get better at (from) last week,” Hoiness, referring to league-ending loss to Bellingham. “A lot of our younger guys and guys who don’t get to play a lot got a lot of reps tonight and that’s good for the team.”
The contest didn’t lack for spectacular plays.
McCrory hurdled a would-be tackler on a 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He had opened the scoring on an 11-yard run on the game’s opening possession and added an 18-yard TD scamper in the third period.
Grays Harbor receiver Chris Jackson juked out a defender on the second of his two scoring plays — a 12-yard pass from backup quarterback Cameron Parker. He had previously caught a 13-yard pass from starter David Evans.
The game even ended in bizarre fashion. Bearcat reserve fullback Brian Dayton scored from 6 yards out on the final scrimmage play. The Bengals, however, blocked the PAT kick and Pierce County’s Randham Agu scooped up the loose ball and went the distance for a 2-point conversion.
The Bearcats covered 58 yards in five plays following the opening kickoff. Following Smith’s 13-yard run and an 18-yard pass from Evans to Joe Winther, McCrory romped through a gargantuan hole off the right side and cruised into the end zone from 11 yards out.
Grays Harbor’s second possession ended in an interception. Evans, however, hooked up with Winther on a 20-yard post pattern for a touchdown late in the first period for a 14-0 lead.
The dam burst in the second quarter, which included Smith’s scoring runs of 3 and 11 yards, both of Jackson’s TDs, McCrory’s second touchdown and a pair of safeties. Jake Early blocked a Bengal punt out of the end zone for the first and Devin Sturgeon chased quarterback Octavis Walton out of the back of the end zone for the second after the latter retrieved a high snap from center in the shotgun formation.
Grays Harbor’s Chris Cook went the distance on a 56-yard run in the third period, which also including scoring jaunts of 5 yards by Smith and 18 by McCrory.
Jadon Carossino kicked six conversions, while Kyle Saloma added three PATs.
Pierce County snapped the shutout on Walton’s 3-yard pass to Agu with 6:44 remaining.
Grays Harbor linebacker Daniel Brown spent much of the first half in Pierce County’s backfield. Hoiness also lauded the defensive play of Joel Brown and Ron Strozyk.
PC 0 0 0 8 — 8 GH 14 38 21 6 — 79
First Downs 3 22
Net Rushing -43 312
Net Passing 58 157
Total Net Yardage 15 369
Passing 5-20 10-13
Had Intercepted 2 1
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Yards Penalized 43 69