Many things were surprising about the Grays Harbor Bearcats’ regular-season finale.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, the outcome was not among them.
Riding the six touchdown passes of Leo Dickerson, the Pacific Football League co-champion Seattle Stallions reeled off the final 34 points to pull away from the Bearcats, 62-27, on Saturday night at Stewart Field.
Despite the loss, the Bearcats (5-5, 6-5) will play at least one home game in a revised league playoff format. The second seed in the league’s Southern Division, they’ll draw a bye next week before hosting the Portland Monarchs in a quarterfinal contest July 13. Depending on the outcome of the other Southern Division contest, they could also be at home for a semifinal the following Saturday.
Regardless of the title matchup, the league championship and all-star games will both be staged at either Stewart Field or Hoquiam’s Olympic Stadium. That is now scheduled for July 27, a week later than originally planned.
The Stallions, meanwhile, concluded their regular season at 9-1 in league. They earned the top-seeded berth in the Northern Division.
Spectators on a balmy night at Stewart Field on Saturday witnessed a contest that bore little resemblance to the pre-game scouting report.
With their offensive line playing exceptionally well, the Bearcats had the edge in rushing (168-153), first downs (18-17) and time of possession against the Stallions, who were billed as a grinding ball-control team.
Grays Harbor’s depleted secondary, however, was no match for the unheralded Dickerson and his cadre of talented receivers.
Dickerson completed 14 of 23 passes for 389 yards. Willie Edwards had TD receptions of 16, 37 and 32 yards, while Robbie Delgardo pulled in scoring passes of 52 and 35 yards. Duane Bowers snared a 19-yard scoring pass from Dickerson.
“That’s the best their quarterback has thrown that I’ve seen,” Grays Harbor coach Todd Hoiness said.
The Bearcats went toe-to-toe with their favored opponents in a first half that often resembled an Arena League game. Forty points — including four touchdowns within a three-minute span — were scored in the first quarter alone.
The tide turned for good in the final 80 seconds of the first half.
Catching a break when the Stallions were flagged for a personal foul after a third-down incompletion that likely would have forced a Grays Harbor punt, the Bearcats capitalized when quarterback David Evans found a wide-open Chris Jackson on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 remaining in the half. Evans then passed to Tam Hines for the 2-point conversion that reduced the deficit to 28-27.
Seattle’s Drew Jenkins, however, promptly returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown.
Grays Harbor linebacker Daniel Brown, one of the up men on the return unit, snared the next kickoff and made a nice runback into Seattle territory. But he fumbled at the end of the play, with the Stallions recovering on their 34-yard line.
After Dickerson hit Carlos Clark for 29 yards, Edwards broke several tackles on a 37-yard catch-and-run that produced another TD 26 seconds prior to intermission.
When Edwards snagged a 32-yard touchdown pass from Dickerson on Seattle’s opening possession of the second half and the Bearcats came up empty on three scoring threats in the third quarter, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. The Stallions continued to go for the jugular, passing literally until the game’s final play.
“There were a lot of positives to take from this game,” Hoiness concluded. “They’re the No. 1 team in in the league and we played with them. We lost our running backs and we’re down in the secondary. It was a big snowball.”
Running backs Vincent McCrory and Cameron Smith, filling in for the injured Jeff Gates, departed in the second half with ailments of their own. Smith led all rushers with 85 yards on 15 carries. That included a 4-yard TD run that opened the scoring. McCrory added a a 6-yard scoring run.
Although Evans’ passing statistics (14 of 41, for 217 yards) weren’t that impressive, Hoiness singled out his quarterback for particular praise. Grays Harbor’s receivers dropped several passes — most of which would have produced significant gains.
“He played really well,” the Bearcat coach said of Evans. “You can’t have 10 drops and expect to win.”
Grays Harbor’s other touchdown came when Christopher Cook scooped up a lateral that the Stallions evidently regarded as a forward pass and rambled 22 yards to the end zone.
Jenkins had a 70-interception return for Seattle’s final touchdown. David Valentine scored the Stallions’ lone rushing TD on a 76-yard jaunt in the first quarter.
Sea 21 21 7 13 — 62 GH 19 8 0 0 — 27
First downs: Seattle 17, Grays Harbor 18.
Net Rushing: Seattle 153, Grays Harbor 168
Net Passing: Seattle 389, Grays Harbor 217
Total net yardage: Seattle 542, Grays Harbor 385
Passing: Seattle 14-23, Grays Harbor 14-41
Had Intercepted: Seattle 1, Grays Harbor 1
Fumbles Lost: Seattle 3, Grays Harbor 2
Yards Penalized: Seattle 67, Grays Harbor 55