Sequim’s Riley Cowan (14) throws over the Forks defense while leading the Wolves back from a 16-0 deficit to win 20-16. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim’s Riley Cowan (14) throws over the Forks defense while leading the Wolves back from a 16-0 deficit to win 20-16. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

PREP FOOTBALL: Sequim’s second-half surge edges Forks (With video highlights)

SEQUIM — Fueled by three-second half touchdown passes by senior quarterback Riley Cowan, Sequim rallied from a 16-0 halftime deficit to edge Forks 20-16 Friday in a rain-soaked instant classic of a contest.

The final touchdown, a 5-yard pass in the right flat to sophomore Michael Young, pushed Cowan into a tie with Drew Rickerson for the school’s career passing touchdowns record. Cowan broke Rickerson’s career passing yardage mark last week with more than 5,000 passing yards.

Prospects for a comeback were grim early in the third quarter when a Cowan pass was picked off by Forks’ Keith Thompson, setting the Spartans up in Wolves’ territory.

The Wolves’ defense, with their backs against their own red zone, bottled up Spartans’ running back Tristen Pisani in the backfield for a turnover on downs.

“The game plan was to keep their offense off the field,” Forks coach Emil West said.

“We ran the ball really well in the first half, ran the bell well in the second, but we didn’t capitalize on that big interception by Keith and that was crucial. We put a touchdown together right there and there’s no way they come back from that.”

The defensive stop was the spark Sequim needed to get back into the game physically and an emotional lift for a team that had played out of sorts up to that point.

“I was just thinking [after the interception] if I get another chance I’ll take advantage of it,” Cowan said.

Cowan did exactly that from that point on, completing 8 of 13 passes for 115 yards and three TDs and tucking and running 10 times for 71 yards in the second half to power Sequim’s surge.

“I was having problems [with heavy rain] and I missed a few throws in the first half,” Cowan said.

“Nothing really changed that much, players just started to believe. I made some tighter throws, maybe some riskier throws.”

Cowan repeatedly broke Forks’ containment and slipped past Spartan defenders for big yardage and wearing down Forks as the game wore on.

“I saw grass and ran for it,” Cowan said.

“Something I try and drill in his head, and I think he gets this concept, is quarterbacks are chain movers,” Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. “Move the chains, it doesn’t have to be a big play every time. Move the chains, we get four more chances. He’s more athletic than people think, they think he’s a pocket passer.”

The Wolves’ comeback got going offensively when Cowan found Young for a 44-yard catch-and-run, part of a seven-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 9-yard tunnel screen TD pass to Joey Oliver.

Oliver then intercepted a Gabe Reaume pass on the next play from scrimmage to set Sequim up at the Forks 30-yard line.

Facing a fourth-and-14 situation, Cowan connected with Kyler Rollness on a perfectly-placed 22-yard wheel route to pull the Wolves within 16-13 entering the final quarter.

“That wheel Kyler made a perfect catch over the shoulder,” Cowan said. “We practice that every day.”

Forks crossed into Sequim’s side of the field on its next possession, thanks to a 30-yard gallop by fullback Caleb Peters, but again the Wolves’ defense stiffened and turned the Spartans over on downs.

Cowan opened Sequim’s eventual game-winning drive with a 21-yard scramble, moved the chains with just enough yardage on a fourth-and-2 and found Rollness for 12 yards on third down for a first-and-goal.

He then hit Young with a 5-yard TD pass and kicked his second extra point in two attempts to give Sequim a 20-16 lead.

“That quarterback is so good, he’s amazing, what a ballplayer,” West said.

“They have a system, they have a great coach and a great quarterback and some of those throws that he made that’s next level [college caliber] stuff.”

Forks had a chance to take the lead late, driving to the Sequim 21-yard line, but Pisani had trouble getting off a halfback pass attempt and Taig Wiker made sure Tony Flores couldn’t come down with the catch near the goal line with around three minutes to play. Wiker ran hard on Sequim’s final drive to kill the clock and wrap the rally.

It was a staggering turnaround from a first half dominated by Forks.

The Spartans marched 85 yards on 16 plays on a 7-minute drive in the first quarter, capped by a 5-yard QB keeper by Brett Moody.

Pisani ran in from four yards out with 10:36 to play in the second to put Forks up 16-0.

Sequim struggled with penalties on both sides of the ball as well.

“We came out — we are young — and we were a little extra nervous,” Wiker said. “It’s a local game, they know these kids. From sophomores to the seniors they’ve all played each other [from little league through middle school] and I think they tensed up a little bit. The sidelines were very flat and after the first quarter it looked like we wanted to pack it in.”

Wiker called out his team’s sense of pride at halftime.

“[I told them] in the end we will be here in the end zone [for the postgame breakdown],” Wiker said. “We will look at each other — and will you look at each other and be proud of what you did no matter the score or not be proud, because I wasn’t proud of the first half.”

Keeping the Forks defense on the field against Sequim’s no-huddle offense tired out the Spartans, going against Forks’ game plan.

“If we kept the ball out of [Cowan’s] hands we would be good to go,” West said. “We were fresh in the first half when we did that.”

As Sequim continued to convert offensively, Forks struggled more and more.

“The benefit of going with a no-huddle in practice is getting three plays a minute, and a lot of times you might get one play a minute. Between the rain, the [penalties], some calls, some penalties, it kept slowing us down.

“In the second half we got into a rhythm and started to … keep going and we are used to that. We do more plays at practice than we do in a game. So Forks got tired like [Sequim’s first opponent] Washington did.”

Sequim 20, Forks 16

Forks 8 8 0 0— 16

Sequim 0 0 13 7— 20

First Quarter

F—Moody 5 run (Pisani run)

Second Quarter

F—Pisani 4 run (Demorest run)

Third Quarter

S—Oliver 8 pass from Cowan (pass failed)

S—Rollness 22 pass from Cowan (Cowan kick)

Fourth Quarter

S—Young 5 pass from Cowan (Cowan kick)

Individual Stats

Rushing—F: Pisani 26-110, Peters 20-100; Moody 4-25; Demorest 1-(-2); Reaume 1-(-11) S: Cowan 12-71; Wiker 9-48; Whitney 4-12.

Passing—F: Reaume 5-8-1, 43; Pisani 0-1-0, 0. S: Cowan 11-25-1, 130.

Receiving—F: Flores 3-30; Moody 2-13. S: Young 4-71, Rollness 5-52, Oliver 1-5, Whitney 1-2.

Forks’ Tristen Pisani (34) is tackled by Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma (50) and Taig Wiker (15). (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Forks’ Tristen Pisani (34) is tackled by Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma (50) and Taig Wiker (15). (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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