SEQUIM — The Sequim defense forced four turnovers, Taig Wiker returned from a knee injury to throw three touchdown passes and run for another and the Wolves put a hurting on Olympic in a 37-14 Olympic League victory Friday night.
Sequim’s (3-1, 5-1) win knocked the Trojans (3-1, 4-2) from the top spot in the Olympic League.
Wolves coach Erik Wiker was pleased with his team’s performance postgame, describing it as a “very big win” and crediting his squad’s defensive effort.
“Honestly, that’s where the strength of our team is [defense],” Wiker said. “Our special teams are pretty good, our offense is pretty good, but our defense is outstanding, I think. I’ve told them that our defense is going to keep us in a lot of games. They can man up and play against some good teams.”
And this was a crucial contest for the Wolves playoff hopes.
There are just three district playoff berths available in the Olympic League this season and this win went a long way toward securing one of those precious spots.
“I often use the playoff word with the team because to me the playoffs start when league play starts, when you start playing the tough teams, that’s when the playoffs start.”
Sequim looked motivated to play from the opening kickoff as Garrett Hoesel set the Wolves up in Trojan territory with a 50-plus yard kick return.
On Sequim’s opening drive, Wiker found Michael Young for a 35-yard catch-and-run touchdown and hit him again on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt for an 8-0 lead less than a minute into the contest.
Wiker said he knew the play would be open based on how Olympic defended Sequim during summer passing league play.
“I knew they were running man [defense] early on and Michael is a really good route runner, he can run a route against pretty much anybody in the league,” Wiker said. “Just running that corner [route] on that first drive, I knew he was going to be open from 7-on-7 during the summer. We have a good connection.”
The Wolves weathered a Wiker interception at their own 25 and another Olympic drive that reached the 20-yard line before sputtering out.
Playing out of position at middle linebacker with Lane Mote out for the game, Wiker delivered a blow to Trojans’ running back Clayton Talarico that forced a fumble which Sequim recovered deep in Olympic territory late in the first half.
After a holding penalty threatened to move the Wolves out of scoring range, Wiker found Walker Ward for a 40-yard screen pass that set Sequim up at the Trojan’s 1-yard line. Wiker snuck in for the score and a 16-0 halftime lead after hitting Hoesel on the 2-point attempt.
Olympic did strike fast in the third quarter, marching down on a four-play, 50-yard drive to score on a Trent Feistner run from 9 yards out. But the Wolves defense bowed up on the two-point try to lead 16-6.
“We said if they happen to score we have to man up and stop them for that extra two points because if we do [it’s still a two-possession game] and it’s like they didn’t score. [We tried to] have them realize that you have a one-play do-over and you saw how jazzed they were after that — they just got scored on but the difference in not allowing that two points is really big,” Wiker said.
Especially with what came next.
Taig Wiker threw up a bit of an arm punt on the next series — a high pass to no-mans land in the middle of the field with Olympic’s Adam Johnson camping under the ball like a centerfielder waiting for a pop fly.
Johnson tipped the ball behind him — but straight into the arms of an on-running Hayden Eaton who just kept going 69 yards to the house for a score and an eventual 24-6 lead.
“I don’t know if you can see it on film or not but I kind of just threw my hands up and was like, ‘OK’,” Taig Wiker said. “I just accepted it. [The ball] came out weird, it ducked in the air, it was an awkward pass off my back leg and it came off [my hand] weird. I knew he wouldn’t let him catch it, no interception. Then it was tipped and right as I saw him catch it, I just accepted it,’OK, we scored.’
“I made the read way too late and regretted it as I threw it, but it came out good in the end.”
Erik Wiker accepted the outcome of the happy, little accident as well.
“That never happens to us,” coach Wiker said. “Our coaches were like ‘Dude, that happens to everybody but us, how did that happen? I took it, I was looking for flags and was like, ‘All right.’”
Sequim put the game on ice with scores off of turnovers.
Michael Young beat out Johnson, an athlete with Big Sky Conference scholarship offers, to the ball at its highest point for an interception and then juked Johnson to the pylon for a 16-yard TD catch on the Wolves’ next drive.
Hoesel followed up by intercepting a Trojans pass and slaloming his way across the field for a 59-yard TD return.
Sequim limited Olympic’s rushing attack 50 yards under its season average and forcing two fumble while also holding the Trojans in check in the pass game — allowing just 71 yards through the air.
“It was about stopping the run and being a big dog on defense,” Taig Wiker said. “All week it was about stopping the run and making them get out of their game so they have to pass like we saw in the second half.”
And the Wolves definitely proved they have some bite.
Sequim visits Port Angeles in the Rainshadow Rumble at Civic Field on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Sequim 37, Olympic 14
Olympic 0 0 6 8— 14
Sequim 8 8 8 13— 37
S—Young 36 pass from Wiker (Wiker pass to Young)
S—Wiker 1 run (Wiker pass to Hoesel)
O—Feistner 9 run (run failed)
S—Eaton 69 pass from Wiker (Wiker pass to Eaton)
S— Young 16 pass from Wiker (pass failed)
S— Hoesel 59 interception return (Young kick)
O—Johnson 21 pass from Turso (Bailey run)
Rushing—O: Bailey 11-83, Feistner 12-65, Talarico 5-27, Larsen 1-18, Turso 4-6; Andrew 2-4, Team 1-2. S: Ward 15-59, Wiker 9-13, Young 3-(-5).
Passing—O: Turso 7-21-71, 2INTs. S: Wiker 6-14-170, 3TDs, INT.
Receiving—O: Bailey 3-30, Johnson 3-24, Andrews 1-12, Team S: Eaton 1-69,Young 3-61; Ward 1-40, Hoesel 1-0.