Bearcats come up short in double-overtime loss to Portland
The Grays Harbor Bearcats rolled the dice and it came up snake eyes Saturday.
After quarterback Tyler Gedney connected on a touchdown pass to Christopher Cook in second overtime to pull the Bearcats within one point of the Portland Pitbulls, Grays Harbor set up to go for a two-point conversion. Portland came with a heavy blitz up the middle and Gedney lofted a screen pass to running back Vincent McCrory, but the pass was just out of the reach of McCrory’s grasp, giving Portland a 36-35 win in a Pacific Football League opener at Stewart Field.
“I didn’t want to go for a tie,” Grays Harbor head coach Todd Hoiness said. “We caught them in the blitz, but we didn’t hook up on it. It would have been a really nice win. We stepped up and made a lot of improvement from last week.”
Both teams launched aerial attacks for most of the game with Grays Harbor passing for 172 yards and Portland gaining 275 yards through the air.
While Grays Harbor outgained last week’s total passing yards in just the first half, it was the Bearcat defense that came up with the big play when the team needed it most in the fourth quarter. Tied at 29-29 with less than three minutes to go in regulation, Portland had the ball first-and-10 on the Grays Harbor 19-yard line. The Bearcats forced two incompletions and stopped Pitbull receiver Tyrrell Stewart inches short of the first down to force fourth-and-one with 37 seconds left on the clock. Portland ran the ball, but three Bearcats met the Pitbull back three yards behind the line of scrimmage. The ball popped loose and was recovered by Portland short of the first down. Grays Harbor took over on downs, but chose to take a knee and take the game to overtime.
The Pacific Football League plays a Kansas City tiebreaker format, which alternates giving teams a chance to score from the 25-yard line. The team leading after both teams have had possession of the ball wins the game.
The Bearcats got the ball first in the overtime, but couldn’t muster up the offense they needed, gaining only one yard over four downs. Portland had plenty of chances to end the game in the first overtime. Stewart and Willie Lowe each dropped almost sure touchdown passes before the Pitbulls faked a field goal from 42 yards. Holder Russell Millage sprinted right and connected a pass to Brandon Benson, but Benson was pulled down three yards short of the first-down line.
Portland got the ball first to start the second overtime and this time the Pitbulls didn’t squander any opportunities. Pitbull quarterback Kyle English rolled left and found Lowe for a 24-yard pass play. English took to the air two plays later and lofted a pass up to Millage who pulled it down for the touchdown. Portland kicked the extra point to take a 36-29 lead, but the Bearcats would have a chance to answer.
Grays Harbor kept the ball on the ground and powered the ball to the 14-yard line, where on first down Gedney rolled left and fired to Cook in the back of the end zone to set up the two-point conversion sequence.
“I’m just really upset we lost,” Hoiness said. “But I’m proud of the effort and I think guys laid it out there. This gives us something to build on. We were competitive and we have to get over the hump and win one in the fourth quarter.”
The Bearcats battled their way through adversity in the contest from the opening kick. Portland’s Billy Ellington took the opening kickoff on the 18-yard line sprinted right, cut back the left and sprinted all the way to the end zone to give the Pitbulls a 7-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.
Grays Harbor responded with a five-minute drive, which ended with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Loyal Linton, but the point after try hit the left upright. Portland led 7-6 until late in the first quarter when English found Lowe in the end zone with a 34-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-6 lead.
Mounting a 18-play drive, Grays Harbor tied the game up on Gedney’s first pass to Cook. Gedney hit Josiah Rhoades on a quick slant moments later for the two-point conversion.
It wouldn’t take long for the Bearcats to score again as 15 seconds after the touchdown Daniel Hargrove picked off English and returned the ball to the Pitbull 38-yard line. Gedney flipped a pass to Cody Miller two plays later and Miller followed his blockers 33 yards to the end zone.
The Pitbulls looked as if they would tie things back up with two minutes left to go in the half when English and Millage connected for a touchdown, but Millage wasn’t able to get the hold down for the extra point and took off running backward on the right side and heaving the ball toward the end zone where Grays Harbor’s James Akers was waiting. Akers caught the ball at the 2-yard-line and toted it all the way back for 2-point conversion to give the Bearcats a 23-20 lead.
After a punt was blocked out of the end zone, the Bearcats Cody Miller broke through three tackles for a 59-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The extra point try was blocked.
Grays Harbor will enjoy a bye date on the schedule next week before traveling to take on the Portland Raiders on May 2.