Sluggish Bearcats pick off victory over Renegades
Considering their physical condition, the Grays Harbor Bearcats were more than happy to settle for an inartistic victory on Saturday.
Compensating for mistakes from a variety of sources by intercepting seven passes, the Bearcats topped the Southern Oregon Renegades, 30-21, in a Pacific Football League contest Saturday night at Stewart Field.
Jake Early and Robby Lisle picked off two passes apiece, with the latter returning one for a touchdown. Including fumble recoveries, the Bearcats (5-2, 6-2) came up with nine takeaways.
That enabled them to overcome three turnovers of their own and general offensive raggedness following a week’s layoff. The Bearcats actually had more interceptions than first downs until the game’s final possession. Grays Harbor was on the Renegade 4-yard line when time expired.
“I thought a week off would be a good thing,” a somewhat bemused Grays Harbor coach Todd Hoiness reflected. “I’ll take an ugly win over a well-played loss any day of the week. Getting a week off (made us) healthier, but we’re not as crisp.”
To be sure, the injury-riddled Bearcats were still at far from full strength physically. Standout running back Jeff Gates didn’t even suit up for the contest due to an ankle injury that will sideline him for at least a couple more weeks.
Hoiness added that Southern Oregon, a Bearcat rival since the club’s inception, also provided a different defensive look than Grays Harbor coaches expected. That helped the Renegades snuff the normally productive Bearcat ground game.
The Bearcats even survived some timekeeping errors. The timer failed to start the clock on at least a half-dozen snaps in the first half, prompting a trip to the press box from player/co-owner Chris Raffelson in full uniform.
The Renegades capitalized on the additional time when Dylan Luboski found James Snyder on a 43-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the half to cut Grays Harbor’s lead to 24-21.
With Early picking off two passes and Chris Cook and Chase Raines one apiece, however, Grays Harbor limited Southern Oregon to one first down in the second half. Cook went the distance on a 36-yard interception return in the third quarter, but the touchdown was nullified by a personal foul penalty called during the runback.
Lisle’s 22-yard punt return set up the Bearcats on the Southern Oregon 28-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
David Evans’ 19-yard sideline pass to Jeremy Walker gave the Bearcats first down on the 6. Operating from the 4 on third down, Evans threw over the middle to wide receiver Chris Jackson, who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone. Despite a missed conversion kick, that gave the Bearcats a commanding nine-point lead with 6:12 remaining.
Most of the other scoring occurred within a 3 1/2-minute span in the second quarter.
Down 6-0 on Daniel Welcome’s 11-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, the Bearcats got on the board via Kyle Saloma’s 21-yard field goal at the 12:52 mark of the second period.
Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Lisle picked off a Luboski pass and motored 29 yards to the end zone. Saloma’s PAT gave the Bearcats a 10-6 advantage.
Southern Oregon needed only one scrimmage play to regain the lead when Leon Ireland shook loose after taking a screen pass from Luboski for a 76-yard scoring play. After a mishanded snap on the intended PAT kick, Luboski took a pass from Snyder for a 2-point conversion pass to make it 14-10.
Barely a minute later, the Bearcats were back on top — this time to stay.
Jackson took a flat pass from Evans, split a pair of defenders and was off to the races on a 57-yard catch-and-run.
Another interception by Lisle, accompanied by two Renegade unsportsmanlike conduct fouls following the tackle, put the Bearcats on the Southern Oregon 2-yard line seconds later. Versatile two-way performer Jack Traxtle, who divided running back duties with Cameron Smith and Vincent McCrory in Gates’ absence, took it in from there. Saloma’s kick made it 24-14 with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter.
Evans recovered from a slow start to complete 13 of 25 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson led Grays Harbor receivers with seven catches for 101 yards.
Grays Harbor’s unrelated Browns, Daniel and Joel, wreaked their customary havoc defensively. Raffelson, who came out of retirement to return to action following the slew of Bearcat injuries, also made some key stops.
The Bearcats enter a rugged phase of their schedule next week when they visit the once-beaten South King County Colts next Saturday. They’ll return home June 15 to face the league-leading Yakima Mavericks.
SO 6 15 0 0 — 21
GH 0 24 0 6 — 30
First Downs: Southern Oregon 8, Grays Harbor 8.
Net Rushing: Southern Oregon 5, Grays Harbor 59
Net Passing: Southern Oregon 195, Grays Harbor 165
Total Net Yardage: Southern Oregon 200, Grays Harbor 224
Passing: Southern Oregon 12-32. Grays Harbor 13-25.
Had Intercepted: Southern Oregon 7, Grays Harbor 1
Fumbles Lost: Southern Oregon 2, Grays Harbor 2
Yards Penalized: Southern Oregon 62, Grays Harbor 62