PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles football team hung tough with a powerhouse North Kitsap squad for most of the first half, but a 21-0 spurt by the Vikings in the third quarter slammed the door en route to a 51-20 win over the Roughriders.
Both teams traded explosive plays all through the first half as the Riders went in to the break down just two scores at 24-13.
The North Kitsap game was part of a tough back-to-back stretch of the Riders’ schedule. After a season-opening 44-21 win over Blaine, the Riders last week played the No. 2 team in the state, Anacortes, in Anacortes, falling 41-7. North Kitsap at one point was ranked No. 1 in the state, but that was before a Vikings’ loss to Tumwater last week. Nevertheless, North Kitsap showed that it is an elite team with an offense that is nearly impossible to contain.
The Riders showed they aren’t that far away from elite teams like North Kitsap and should be in the playoff mix out of the Olympic League at the end of the year.
Port Angeles had trouble handling Vikings’ wide receiver Logan Sloman, who made big runs and spectacular catches en route to a three-touchdown performance. He had nearly 200 yards receiving for the game.
“That’s the league MVP there,” said Port Angeles head coach Dustin Clark.
Clark liked how the team played in the first half, but the Riders couldn’t sustain it after the break.
“That was a really good first half,” Port Angeles coach Dustin Clark said. “We came out flat in the second half.”
North Kitsap had barely any yardage on the ground in the first half with Sloman doing almost all of the damage offensively. In the second half, the Vikings were finally able to get some big running plays from their backs.
The Riders tallied 374 yards of offense.
The Vikings threw the ball out on the flat repeatedly and let their runners take off in space. On the opening possession, the Vikings scored quickly with a couple of catches by Sloman and a 28-yard touchdown pass on a quick hitch to Dungy.
The Riders responded quickly, however as Port Angeles quarterback Parker Nickerson had a 10-yard run and an 11-yard run and hit Landyn Jones with a 32-yard pass to get the Riders inside the 15-yard line. He hit Ezra Townsend with a touchdown pass on the next play. After a Blake Sohlberg kick, the game was tied at 7-7.
On the next possession, the Riders had North Kitsap in a third and 12 at midfield after an Easton Merritt tackle for a loss, but then Sloman made a spectacular catch with Sohlberg providing almost perfect pass coverage, for a 42-yard catch.
The Riders’ defense did a great job of holding after the Vikings had a first-and-goal with Kaiden Point making a big tackle to prevent a touchdown on another quick pass to the flat. North Kitsap was forced to kick a short field goal to make it 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Vikings opened up the lead in the second quarter with a Sloman 69-yard touchdown catch and run. The Riders responded by driving deep into North Kitsap territory after a 38-yard Nickerson completion to Jason Hawes. But, then he was picked off at the 10-yard line to end that threat.
On the next drive, North Kitsap marched it down the field mostly through the air and finished off the drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Sloman. After a two-point conversion it was 24-7.
Again, the Riders hung tough bouncing right back to keep the Vikings in range. Sohlberg made a great catch of his own on a 50-50 ball, wrestling the ball away from a Vikings’ defender for a 40-yard gain. The Riders drove inside the 10 for a first-and-goal and Nickerson ran the ball in from 9 yards out to make it 24-13.
The Vikings had no chance for a quick score at the end of the half as Tanner Flores had a huge quarterback sack on a blitz off the edge to end the second quarter.
The second half was a different story, unfortunately for the Riders, as the Vikings took control of the game. North Kitsap started running the ball more and was able to wear down the Port Angeles defense. Meanwhile, the Riders had trouble moving the ball as North Kitsap made defensive adjustments.
“I think the guys got a little tired [in the second half,” Clark said.
Sloman had his third TD of the game on a pass from the 3-yard line to begin the half. The Vikings picked off another pass and forced a Port Angeles punt and were able to score two more quick TDs to make it 44-13 at the end of three.
In the fourth quarter, Nickerson had a remarkable play, running all over the backfield, nearly getting sacked two or three times, then hitting Sohlberg way on the other side of the field on a dangerous-looking throw. It only went for 13 yards but was the play of the game for the Riders.
Nickerson capped off that drive with a 5-yard run for his second TD of the game to make it 51-20.
Nickerson had a big game, rushing 11 times for 91 yards as he got away from North Kitsap pressure time and again. He passed 11-for-24 for 240 yards with a TD and two interceptions, one of which was a spectacular diving catch by a Vikings’ defender.
Sohlberg had four catches for 92 yards, while Hawes had two for 78. Jones had the one catch for 35 and Townsend had one catch for 15 yards and a TD.
Kason Albaugh ran 14 times for 34 tough yards and had three catches for 20 yards. Hawes had 10 yards on five carries.
The Riders (0-1, 1-2) now have to get ready to play rival Sequim next week in Sequim (0-1, 0-2) after losing to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state back-to-back.
“We played really hard. We’re taking it one game at a time, one day at a time. We’ll get there,” Clark said.