When Nolan Hoiness and the rest of Hoquiam’s big-play specialists are on the field, time of possession doesn’t matter much.
Aberdeen discovered that the hard way in the 107th renewal of the trans-Myrtle Street football rivalry.
Needing only six scrimmage plays to build a 20-6 lead after one quarter, the Grizzlies raced past the Bobcats, 49-6, in a non-league contest Friday night at Stewart Field.
Hoiness ran for two touchdowns and also blocked a field goal and returned it 75 yards for a score on his way to earning the most valuable player award presented by the United States Marine Corps as part of its Great American Rivalry high school series.
Quarterback Evan Erickson passed for 143 yards and two TDs and senior receiver Paul Girts also scored twice as the Grizzlies (2-0) notched their second consecutive win over their arch-rivals. Aberdeen leads the series 67-35-5.
This was Hoquiam’s second most lopsided victory in series history (its 70-6 triumph in 1928 is the most decisive by either school) and the first time this contest was completed under a running clock. The state-mandated running clock mercy rule was implemented with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter when the 40-point margin was exceeded.
Despite the final count, the Grizzlies did not dominate from the opening whistle as many anticipated.
With seniors Bryceson Talley and Filipo Cournoyer running effectively, the Bobcats (0-2) controlled the ball for a good portion of the first half and seemed about to make a game of it until a fateful (and protracted) final 3 1/2 minutes of the first quarter helped seal their fate.
Trailing 7-0, the Bobcats drove to the Hoquiam 13-yard line before Sam Ruiz was summoned to attempt a 30-yard field goal.
Hoiness blocked the kick and scooped the ball up in full flight at about his 25-yard line. Once he made it into the open field, no one was about to catch the state sprint champion.
“I don’t know whether it hit me in the hands or the stomach,” Hoiness said. “But it took a perfect bounce right into my hands.”
“Those are the type of special plays on special teams that really change the momentum of a football game,” HHS coach Jason Ronquillo said.
Drew Bravos’ 2-point conversion run was called back by a penalty, and Erickson’s subsequent kick went wide.
The momentum shift, however, didn’t materialize for a while. The Bobcats drove 57 yards in four plays after taking the ensuing kickoff. Running off the left side on the option, quarterback Veek Cheema pitched back to Cournoyer, who took it the rest of the way on a 29-yard scoring play. The conversion pass failed, leaving the Grizzlies with a 13-6 lead.
Hoquiam fired back on its next possession. After Girts, another Grizzly sprinter, covered 23 yards on a run, Erickson hit Devin Kelly in the right flat for a 22-yard scoring pass and run. Erickson’s PAT made it 20-6.
The Grizzlies added a safety early in the second quarter. Kelly’s punt inside the Aberdeen 10-yard line was muffed by Austin Floch, who was swarmed under by a host of tacklers trying to bring it out of the end zone.
Hoiness, who had opened the scoring with a 4-yard run, went the distance on a 34-yard burst to the outside with 4:25 remaining in the first half.
Regaining possession after a mishandled snap helped snuff out an Aberdeen drive, the Grizzlies covered 63 yards in the final 1:19 of the first half. Erickson connected on three passes during the march, then went straight ahead for the score from a yard out with eight seconds left prior to intermission.
Girts tallied on a 37-yard pass from Erickson and a 6-yard run in the third quarter to close out the scoring. The senior wingback had three receptions for 101 yards.
“There were moments when we had momentum and we took the momentum away (with mistakes),” Aberdeen coach Terry Dion. “Give them credit, every time they touch the ball, they’re dangerous.”
Ronnie Espedal, Jake Guined, Alex Munoz and Josh Steen drew Ronquillo’s praise for defensive excellence.
Dion commended the play of defensive backs — Floch, Carter Harris and Erikk Machowek — and the contributions of assistant coach Corey Martinsen, who is in charge of that unit.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a much-anticipated Evergreen 1A League showdown with Montesano at Monte’s Jack Rottle Field next Friday. The Bobcats, who have two non-leaguers remaining, host Centralia the same night.