A 30-second span allowed Hoquiam to turn a close Evergreen 1A encounter with Rainier into a comfortable one on Friday night.
The Grizzlies held the Mountaineers on a fourth-down goal-line stand. One play later, senior running back Devin Kelly showcased his speed with a 92-yard touchdown sprint to highlight a 46-9 victory at Olympic Stadium.
Kelly, in three quarters of work, finished with 213 yards rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
His final carry of the night was a 63-yard touchdown run to usher in the mercy-rule running clock.
“Our speed was too much for them,” HHS head coach Rick Moore said. “In high school games, it comes down to matchups and how you match up for them. We had a lot more speed than they did and it showed.”
Celebrating Senior Night before the game and at halftime, Hoquiam (1-3, 2-5) flashed the present and the future of the program — seniors Kelly and Brenner Carlstrom in the backfield, with sophomore quarterback Jeff Capoeman making his first varsity start behind center.
Even with that new-look offense in personnel, the Grizzlies had the big — and quick — advantage in speed. They also had an enormous advantage defensively, too.
Up 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies were pinned back by the Mounties’ option offense, run to deadly results by sophomore quarterback McKoy Bichler. The visitors marched to the Hoquiam 2-yard line with four downs to put in their first score of the game.
The Grizzly defense stood tall, smothering Bichler twice and Bailey Miller once before four HHS defenders blasted into the backfield on fourth down. Running back Nic Henry tried to break away, but he was brought down for a 7-yard loss and the turnover on downs.
On the ensuing possession, the Hoquiam offensive line opened a large hole for Kelly to run through and used the speed that helped the Grizzlies win a state 1A track relay title last spring to cruise into the end zone.
“I felt like I was in track, running for the win,” Kelly said of his 92-yard touchdown run. “There were a lot of holes and we hit them hard. It was great to get back in there and run like I normally do. We definitely will build on this.”
“If Rainier scored, it could have been a ballgame, so the stand was pivotal,” Moore added. “(The run) was huge. The game was under our control right after that.”
The defense made more inroads into Rainier’s offense to end the first half. Tyler White stepped in front of a Bichler screen pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. Jerod Steen intercepted another Bichler pass on the Mounties’ final drive of the first half.
Leading 27-0 after halftime, Hoquiam got the ball deep in Rainier territory when Bichler fumbled on the first possession of the third quarter.
Carlstrom plunged 1 yard for a touchdown at 34-0.
Bichler had his fourth straight turnover on Rainier’s next drive and that set up Kelley’s final run of the game — a 63-yard touchdown sweep around the left end — for a 40-0 score with 1:36 left in the third.
Bichler finished with five consecutive turnovers and had six in the Mounties’ final seven drives of the game. He led Rainier with 186 yards rushing.
“(Bichler) is a good, young quarterback; Rainier is a young team,” Moore said. “Defensively, I thought we bent at times, but didn’t break. We played really well, hit hard and were physical.”
Capoeman started the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Steen midway through the first quarter and he ran in from 1-yard out for a 14-0 lead. Moore cited Capoeman for his performance at QB.
Tristan Stutesman made it 46-0 with a 10-yard touchdown run to end Hoquiam’s scoring.
Reserve cornerback Anthony Nash plucked Bichler’s third and final interception late in the game.
Henry snapped the shutout with 8:25 remaining with a 16-yard touchdown run and Rainier capped the scoring with a safety with 25 seconds left.
On Friday, Hoquiam hits the road to take on Tenino.