PORT ANGELES — With the ball sitting on the 20-yard-line and the Sequim crowd at a deafening roar, Port Angeles High School quarterback Stefan Walker had one last shot.
Eric Zangara’s fourth touchdown of the second half had just completed a stunning comeback for Sequim in Friday night’s matchup with Port Angeles at Civic Field.
The Wolves had rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit and now held a 31-27 lead.
It was up to Walker to respond with 1:32 left against the team that had beaten the Roughriders the last two years.
“I knew the pressure was on me,” Walker said. “I had to execute.”
Execute is exactly what he did.
Driving 80 yards on seven plays, Walker found receiver Levi Fahrenholtz for a 38-yard game-winning touchdown that catapulted the Riders to a 34-31 win.
“I told them we’ve done it before,” Port Angeles head coach Matt Gracey said.
“We’ve gone through that drill a billion times. I’m glad we did.”
In ending two years of Sequim supremacy, Walker was a perfect 4-for-4 for 71 yards on the game-winning drive which included a completion on fourth-and-1 at midfield to Eric Lane to keep the Riders’ hopes alive.
“The line blocked for me, and the receivers got open,” Walker said. “I just hit my targets.”
No throw was more accurate than the bullet he threw to Fahrenholtz on the game-winning play.
Hitting the senior receiver breaking across the field in stride, Fahrenholtz raced down the sideline and dove into the corner of the end zone.
It was the exclamation point to a big game for senior receiver, who racked up 106 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions.
Walker finished the game 14-of-33 for 216 yards and four touchdowns with nary an interception.
“We pushed it and pushed it,” Fahrenholtz said. “You could say we took back our kingdom.”
It wasn’t easy, however, with the Wolves rallying on the back of Zangara after a miserable first half performance.
“Port Angeles executed well [in the first half],” Sequim head coach Erik Wiker said. “The kids’ heads were spinning.”
“I just told them you’ve got to play with heart and pride. The first-half team was a team I had never seen.”
The team Wiker had seen for the last two years — the one that had gone 19-3 in that span and beaten Port Angeles twice — showed up in the second half.
Zangara slashed through the Riders’ defense for 243 yards of offense and four touchdowns, spinning and juking his way past Port Angeles defenders with regularity.
“That was the best blocking I’ve ever seen them do,” Zangara said of his offensive line.
“We knew we were better than that [first half].”
The Wolves racked up 291 yards in the second half, including four scoring drives of 57 yards or more for 25 points.
The most impressive came after senior Adrien Gault taken off the field in a stretcher, the result of a Lane hit on a screen pass.
After a 15-minute delay, the Wolves reacted by converting a long third down, then proceeded to move the ball on a sequence of running plays highlighted by an Ian Austin 24-yard sweep.
Five plays later, Zangara found the end zone with a five-yard run to give Sequim its short-lived lead.
Zangara also broke scoring runs of 39 and 15 yards on top of an 11-yard screen pass for a touchdown.
“Eric Zangara ran like a champion,” Sequim coach Wiker said.
“He knew he had to dig deep and go because everyone was counting on him. He responded.”Unfortunately for the Wolves, the offense failed to convert three separate two point tries and one extra point, ultimately the difference in the game.