PREP FOOTBALL: Sequim rallies, but falls to Bremerton
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Sequim’s Adam Knapman, right, looks to run as teammate Nathan Allison provides a block in the second quarter against Bremerton.
By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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A tale of two halves.
A game of inches.
Something about getting back up after being repeatedly knocked down.
Throw in a big comeback, and Friday's Olympic League matchup had all the ingredients of a sports movie.
Except one thing: The comeback fell short.
The Wolves trailed 34-0 at halftime to the defending league champions.
The second half, though, belonged to Sequim.
“We just had a pep talk with them that was nice and calm,” Sequim head coach Erik Wiker said of the halftime locker room discussion.
“They have to come out, they have to have heart and they have to execute. But they have to believe.
“And they did. Instead of wondering how we can mess up a play, or finding ways to lose, we were finding ways to win.”
The charge was led by quarterback Miguel Moroles and running back Adam Knapman, and was aided by a defense that forced turnovers and seemed determined to make sure Bremerton earned every yard it gained.
After being benched at the end of the first half, Moroles ran for three touchdowns, including a 54-yarder that cut the deficit to 34-14, and passed for another.
Knapman, who had his best game of the season, ran for a score in the third quarter.
Moroles' touchdown pass was a 25-yard hookup with Josiah Anastasi on a fourth-and-10 play with 1:05 left in the game that made the score 41-35.
Anastasi then recovered the onside kick to give Sequim the ball at the Knights' 41-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Moroles hooked up with Brett Wright for a 22-yard gain that moved the ball to the 19.
A few plays later, Moroles ran down the sideline for a big gain and at least a first down, but he stepped out of bounds at the 15 to bring up fourth down.
Moroles then ran out of bounds on the next play to end Sequim's bid for a miracle.
Moroles' sideline dash wasn't the only time the Wolves were an inch or two from possibly changing the game's outcome.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, with Bremerton's lead down to 34-28, the Knights had a fourth-and-3 at the Sequim 23-yard line.
Quarterback Connor Mahoney did a run up the middle for about 3 yards.
Sequim thought it made the stop, and Bremerton thought it had the first down.
A measurement showed the Knights made the first down by a narrow margin. They scored a few plays later to build a 41-28 lead.
“We were 1 inch away twice . . . from winning the game,” Wiker said.
That drive was one of the few in which Bremerton was able to move the ball in the second half.
While the Wolves were scoring, the Knights' offense was hampered two fumbles and an interception by Sequim's Brett Wright.
Meanwhile, Bremerton's defense was helping Sequim's comeback with various unsportsmanlike penalties.
Every bounce went Sequim's way in the second half, which is the exact opposite of how the first two quarter played out.
If the second half was titled “The Comeback,” then the first half was “Football Follies” for the Wolves.
Adrian Espinoza's first punt squibbed to the line of scrimmage, where Bremerton defensive lineman Skyler Mullins picked it up and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, Knapman had a run that went for more than 50 yards called back because of holding.
Backup quarterback Dylan Lott threw pass that was picked off by Mullins and retuned 25 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Sequim tried to jump on a squib kick, but the ball popped up in the air and was recovered by the Knights, who scored on a pass from Mahoney to Michael Brown on the next play to make it 34-0.
That is where the score stood at halftime, a deficit that seemed impossible to overcome.
Things were so bad that Sequim's public address announcer derided Bremerton over the loudspeakers for still playing its starters, even though it was only halftime.
But Wiker said he didn't give up the game.
“It's always possible. I mean, I believe in kids all the time,” Wiker said.
“The thing is, you just do it inch by inch, you just do it play by play.
“We don't think, 'Yeah, we're going to come back, beat them.' We think, 'Stop them, and score,' and the game takes care of itself.
“Stop them and score — and no matter what the score is, play like that.
“And that's what happens when you do that, you just win each little battle. And when you're doing that kind of stuff, good things happen.
“That's all you can control is those little moments.”
Moroles said the coaching staff boosted the players' confidence.
“They wanted us to bounce back,” he said.
“They knew we could do it, so their faith in us really helped us out.”
Knapman was one of the few Wolves who played well in both halves.
He finished with 79 yards rushing on 24 carries, with most of his yardage coming after being hit.
After Knapman struggled in Sequim's first two games, Wiker challenged the senior running back.
“He did have an awesome game, but he ran really super hard,” Wiker said.
“He's been Mr. Jitterbug in practice, you know, before he even hits the hole.
“The holes weren't much bigger than last time, but he was hitting the hole. I mean, how many times did he get ripped, and he was turning, and he gets another couple of yards? That's 4 yards. That's a good play — 4 yards is good, you don't have to score every play.”
Moroles completed 15 of 41 passes for 141 yards, and gained 136 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Wright caught six passes for 56 yards, and Anastasi had four catches for 46 yards.
Bremerton coach Nate Gillam didn't have much to say after the game.
“We won, that's it,” he said.
“It was a great game. Coach Wiker's a great coach.”
The Wolves fall to 0-3 (0-1 in league) for the second straight year.
Just like Friday's game, Wiker isn't counting his team out from being an Olympic League contender.
More importantly, he thinks after Friday's game, his players aren't counting themselves out.
“I always know it's possible. The big thing it tells me about the team: They know it's possible. You know, it's a big, different story,” Wiker said.
“I think that they believe they can do stuff now and make plays.”
Sequim plays its first road game of the season at North Kitsap this week.
The Vikings (1-0, 1-2) won 34-29 on Friday, but had to survived a big, almost Sequim-sized comeback by Klahowya.
NOTES: Sequim wore camouflage jerseys in honor of military veterans.
Fans could sponsor the jerseys, which featured the name of a veteran on the back.
■ Sequim lineman Jacob Major left the game in an ambulance in the second quarter, but recovered enough to be present for the team's postgame talk.
Wiker said it appeared Major suffered a concussion.
Last modified: September 21. 2013 6:37PM