PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Roughriders football team could not have gotten off to a worse start against Olympic on Friday night.
But what a spectacular response.
Port Angeles got five touchdown passes and 384 yards passing from Parker Nickerson and 10 catches for 234 yards, including four touchdown catches, from Blake Sohlberg en route to a 48-26 pasting on Olympic. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak against Olympic. The last time the Roughriders beat them was in 2011.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Riders as they fumbled on their first play of scrimmage, giving the Trojans the ball deep in Port Angeles territory. Olympic scored in just four plays and had a 7-0 lead only 1 minute and 21 seconds into the game.
The Riders barely blinked, erupting for 21 points in five minutes to take command of the game.
“We were fine. We just gotta be who we are,” said coach Dustin Clark. “We just have to play on. Just move on to the next play. That’s who we are.”
“You just to flush that and move on,” Sohlberg, who also had an interception, said.
“We all stayed in the game,” said Ezra Townsend, who had an interception on defense.
Port Angeles came right back as Nickerson hit a wide-open Sohlberg for a 55-yard touchdown that looked just too easy to believe. Sohlberg managed to get wide open time and again as the Olympic defensive backs kept losing sight of him downfield.
“It was the play-calling and I just ran my routes,” Sohlberg said.
“It was things we had seen on film, a couple of different routes that were there,” said Clark. “[Sohlberg]’s a good wide receiver and their coverage helped.”
Nickerson followed up that play on defense with an interception at midfield, which led to another quick 24-yard touchdown pass to Sohlberg three minutes later.
On the next possession, the Riders’ defense caused a fumble that was recovered by Tanner Flores. Nickerson hit Kaiden Point with a 24-yard pass to put the Riders on the 1-yard line. Sohlberg caught a short pass for his third touchdown of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Nickerson hit Sohlberg for their fourth combined touchdown of the game on a 26-yard pass. Sohlberg kicks the extra points for Port Angeles so in the first half, he accounted for all 28 of the Roughriders’ points. He ended with 30 points for the game.
Olympic rode its running back Chase Webster all night and he broke a few big runs to keep the Trojans in the game. Olympic got a TD right before halftime to keep within striking distance at 28-14.
Jason Hawes had a big punt return for a touchdown early in the game, but it was called back for an illegal block. It was one of two Port Angeles touchdowns called back. The Trojans responded with a big punt return of their own to set up a quick drive ending with an 18-yard Webster run for a touchdown.
At this point of the game, it felt like the Trojans had regained all the momentum that the Riders had early. Hawes quickly changed with a 90-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. This time there were no flags and the touchdown stood to give the Riders a 35-20 lead.
After a turnover on downs, Port Angeles had a strange possession, but it ended up being hugely important. The Riders got called for offensive holding four times in one drive and at one point had a third and 21. But, they kept completing passes to keep the drive alive.
On fourth and 9 from their own 38 near the end of the third quarter, Clark made the daring gamble to go for it rather than make the safe play and punt. Nickerson hit Albaugh with a 16-yard pass and run to convert the fourth down. It was huge play as the Riders kept the ball the rest of the quarter, ending with a Nickerson 34-yard run up the gut to make it 42-20 with 15 seconds left in the third.
“We were confident with the play. It felt like we really needed [that fourth-down conversion],” Clark said. “That’s us being us.”
The Riders opened the score up to 48-20 in the fourth. After a 47-yard completion from Nickerson to Sohlberg to put the ball inside the 10, Nickerson then quickly hit Point with a 5-yard TD pass. Olympic added a late touchdown for the final score.
“It feels great. We had to get it back. Last year, we got blown out by them,” Townsend said. It was a 42-3 Olympic win in 2022.
Albaugh added six catches for 68 yards. Nickerson finished with 45 yards rushing while Landyn Jones had some good runs in the fourth quarter as the Riders ate the clock. He finished with five runs for 25 yards. Ian Smithson and Hawes each blocked point-after kicks.
Port Angeles (2-1, 3-2) has another big game in an especially tough schedule, on the road against No. 9-ranked Bremerton (3-0, 5-0) next Friday. Bremerton just beat North Mason 63-0, but the Knights also barely beat Olympic 37-36 a few weeks ago. This will be the third top 10 ranked team the Riders have played this year. The other two were Anacortes and North Kitsap.
“We’re going to come out and battle. We’re going to have a chance,” Clark said.
Port Angeles 48, Olympic 26
Olympic 7 7 6 6 — 26
Port Angeles 21 7 14 6 — 48
Oly. — Hudson 4 run (PAT good), 10:39.
PA — Solhberg 55 pass from Nickerson (Sohlberg PAT), 8:30.
PA — Solhberg 24 pass from Nickerson (Sohlberg PAT), 4:26.
PA — Sohlberg 1 pass from Nickerson (Sohlberg PAT), 3:25.
PA — Sohlberg 26 pass from Nickerson (Sohlberg PAT), 3:17.
Oly. — Webster 2 run (PAT good), 0:36.
Oly. — Webster 18 run (PAT blocked), 5:54.
PA — Hawes 90 kick return (Sohlberg PAT), 5:38.
PA — Nickerson 34 run (Sohlberg PAT), 0:15.
PA — Point 5 pass from Nickerson (PAT no good), 9:27.
Oly. — McCoy 2 run (PAT blocked), 6:17.
PA: Nickerson 23-for-43, 384 yards, 5 TDs.
PA: Nickerson 5-45; Jones 5-25; Albaugh 7-2; Hawes 2-(-2), James 2-(-2).