By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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The significance of the win was not lost on the Riders.
“It's amazing,” Riders quarterback Ryan Rodocker said of Friday's win at Sequim High School.
“We haven't done it since I was nine.”
Rodocker, a sophomore making his second varsity start at quarterback, threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter as Port Angeles outscored Sequim 22-6 in the second half after the game was tied 15-15 at halftime.
“This is our championship game. This is what we really wanted all season,” senior Nick Lasorsa said.
“It feels great, it feels great. All the years I've been playing, we lost to them, and we lost to them a few years before that, so it feels great to go out as a senior, breaking that losing streak against Sequim.”
Lasorsa and Miki Andrus both surpassed 100 yards rushing. Lasorsa carried 15 times for 137 yards while Andrus had 17 carries for 120 yards.
They ran behind an offensive line that played one of its best games.
“We played with more intensity and our line was just doing great on the runs,” Andrus said.
“I've never seen them play this good. Their holes . . . anybody can fit through. A train can fit through that.”
Added Lasorsa, “Our linemen really got it done. Every hole I ran through was huge.”
Perhaps no hole was bigger than the one Lasorsa had on the first play from scrimmage after Sequim tied the game at 8-8 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Miguel Moroles to Josiah Anastasi.
Lasorsa blasted through a hole on the right side of the line and ran untouched for a 60-yard touchdown to make it 15-7.
Matt Robbins — who left the game after sustaining an injury on the second-half kickoff — opened the scoring with a 4-yard run earlier in the second quarter.
After an offside penalty moved the ball inside the 2-yard line on the point-after kick, the Riders attempt a two-point conversion that succeed when sophomore lineman Billy Minks picked up a fumble and fell into the end zone.
Last in the first half, the Riders threatened to extend their 15-8 lead, advancing to the Sequim 12, but Wright intercepted Rodocker's pass in the end zone.
Moroles then marched the Wolves 80 yards in less than two minutes, tying the game with a 23-yard pass that Ian Dennis caught in the end zone on a fourth-and-13 play.
The teams exchanged punts to open the third quarter.
Andrus returned Sequim's second punt of the quarter 68 yards inside the Wolves 20-yard line.
Two plays later, on third down, a diving Andrus hauled in a Rodocker pass in the end zone.
Andrus finished with two catches for 46 yards.
“Miki had an outstanding game,” Sequim coach Erik Wiker said.
“I mean, both of his catches could have easily been dropped. They were lay-out, stretch-out catches. Those are wonderful. Those were outstanding plays, those are big, huge differences. His kick returns and punt returns were big, huge differences.”
Andrus made a big play on defense to end the Wolves' next drive.
On fourth-and-1, Sequim running back Chris Whitaker took a handoff and was stuffed at the line by Andrus.
The Riders went 44 yards in four plays, scoring on a 25-yard pass from Rodocker to Steven Lauderback on a third-down play.
Filling in for injured starter Nate Angevine, Rodocker completed 3 of 8 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
All three of Rodocker's completions came on third down-and-long plays.
“Ryan Rodocker . . . I don't even know what to say. He stepped up,” Lasorsa said.
“Honestly, we had confidence in him, but no one expected him to step up that much. He stepped right in and got it done.”
Moroles ran for an 8-yard touchdown with seven minutes left in the game.
An unsportsmanlike penalty moved the ball back, and the extra point was blocked, meaning the Wolves still trailed by two scores.
The Riders put the game away with a seven-play drive — all runs by either Andrus or Lasorsa — that concluded with an Andrus 8-yard touchdown run.
Port Angeles' defense was as impressive as its offense.
Roberto Coronel, Paul VanRossen, Kyle LaFritz, Caleb West and the rest of the Riders' defensive front seven kept Moroles on the run throughout the game.
Moroles' runs ended up being Sequim's best plays — he picked up 124 yards on 24 carries — but he was limited to only 17 pass attempts, completing 10 for 107 yards.
“He's got the go-ahead to run any time he feels good because he usually makes something pretty good,” Wiker said.
“They caught him a couple times, but more than often, they didn't. It's usually a good thing when he's running.”
Equally important, the Riders were able to limit Wright's touches and prevent him from making big plays for the Sequim offense.
As the Roughriders (2-4, 2-6) passed around the Rainshadow Rumble trophy after the game, coach Tom Wahl told a Port Angeles supporter that he didn't even know a trophy was awarded to the winner.
The win was Wahl's first over the Wolves in four tries, and he didn't downplay its significance.
“I would be lying if I didn't say it was exciting,” Wahl said.
“Rivalries are important. This game means a lot to the kids. We talked to them about respect this week, and it's such a big part of respect when you have rivalries, whether it's a rivalry with your brother or a rivalry with the cross-town team.”
Wiker, too, recognizes the significance of the rivalry, even though the teams entered the game with a combined total of one victory this season.
He also acknowledged that losing the game stings more than the winless Wolves' (0-6, 0-8) other seven losses.
“Oh, for sure. These are the ones that make the season,” he said.
“I don't care if we're undefeated in league, or they're at the top and we're at the bottom, we're at the top, we're at the bottom, we're both at the bottom, it's still a big game.
“It's one of those things that can make or break a season. Even with wins or no wins, if we win this one, it would definitely help our season quite a bit.”
Wiker should know. Last year, Sequim won two games, including a 34-7 victory over Port Angeles.
“We won homecoming [against Klahowya] and P.A.,” Wiker said. “The sting wasn't as bad for such a tough year.”
On the other side, Wahl is all too familiar with what the Wolves are experiencing this season, as the Roughriders finished 0-9 in 2012.
“My hats off to Sequim. Sequim was very gracious and they played a great game,” Wahl said.
“We've been where they are right now quite a few times, and so my heart goes out to them, for sure, because I know this is a tough season for them.
“They've got a great program and coach Wiker's an excellent coach. He does a good job, and I know that they'll come back next year and they're going to be a better team. They're a young team this year.”
Port Angeles and Sequim both face teams that have clinched postseason berths this Friday.
The Riders host Kingston (5-1, 6-2) in their homecoming game at Civic Field. The Buccaneers are coming their first Olympic League loss of the season to North Kitsap (6-0, 6-2) in the de facto league championship game 37-30.
Sequim is also at home, facing North Mason (4-2, 6-2), which wrapped up a playoff spot by beating Klahowya (2-4, 4-4) 28-17.
The Wolves will finish their season with a crossover game at Foster on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.
Port Angeles is still attempting to set up a Week 10 game.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.