Bearcats grab division lead by beating Yakima

YAKIMA — Even some unwanted suspense at the end couldn’t prevent the Grays Harbor Bearcats from taking the division lead.

David Evans threw four touchdown passes and the Bearcats withstood a late Yakima Mavericks rally for a 28-21 victory in a Pacific Coast Football League Northern Division contest on Saturday night at Eisenhower High School.

The victory gave the Bearcats (6-1, 7-1) the upper hand on Yakima in a battle for the division lead. With a victory over the Bellingham Bulldogs in a league finale next Saturday at Stewart Field, Grays Harbor would clinch the Northern Division title and home-field advantage for at least the first couple of rounds of the league playoffs.

Unbeaten on the road this season, the Bearcats have won six straight. They also handed the Mavericks (4-1, 5-1) their first loss.

Grays Harbor controlled Saturday’s showdown more easily than the score indicated. The Bearcats led 28-0 when Evans found Jeremy Walker on a 22-yard touchdown pass and Jadon Carossino converted the PAT late in the third quarter.

A long return of the ensuing kickoff set up a 30-yard TD pass by Yakima’s John Lobbastael shortly therafter. Then, on Grays Harbor’s next possession, the Mavericks intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 37 yards for another touchdown to reduce the margin to 14.

Holding the Bearcats scoreless the rest of the way, the Mavericks added another touchdown in the final two minutes of the game. Grays Harbor, however, recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

Evans had earlier found Chris Cook on a 7-yard touchdown pass and Chris Jackson on TD tosses of 6 and 7 yards. The Bearcat quarterback completed 18 of 33 passes for 281 yards.

“They were totally committed to stopping the run and we had some long passes,” Grays Harbor coach Todd Hoiness said. “The thing that was good was we were running the ball well enough to control the tempo of the game.

“The defense was lights out and controlled the game until the very end,” he added. “Field position and getting (them) out of drives was huge.”

Against a rugged Yakima rushing defense, Grays Harbor’s Jeff Gates still ran for 95 yards on 23 carries. Jackson had six receptions for 84 yards, while Walker contributed five catches for 113 yards.

Middle linebacker Joel Brown had another stellar outing for the Bearcats, with 15 tackles and a couple of sacks. Hoiness also commended the play of safeties Jake Early and Jerry Mancuso.

“Our secondary played their best game of the year,” Hoiness asserted. “We had six sacks and half of them were coverage sacks.”

The Bearcats also performed well in the offensive line. Evans was not sacked during the contest.