The game already was decided before Sequim's Alex Gillis put his approval stamp on it.
The senior free safety sent his teammates into a frenzy when he put a clean, hard hit on a Steilacoom receiver as the Sentinels drove downfield for one last-gasp, meaningless score in Sequim's 26-10 Nisqually League opening win Friday night.
The evening was supposed to be the christening of Steilacoom's new artificial turf field, dedicated to Blair Taylor, Steilacoom's first schools superintendent.
The only thing that turned out to be artificial that night was Steilacoom's 7-6 halftime lead, one that evaporated when Sequim's offense found new life.
Inspired by a rather ruthless defense, the Wolves (1-0 in league 3-1 overall) gave up a field goal to start the third quarter, then scored 20 unanswered points to send the Nisqually League's defending champions to an 0-4 mark.
Sequim's Travis Decker ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Drew Rickerson threw for 144 yards and a score.
"We definitely need to give (Decker) the ball more," coach Erik Wiker said following the crucial league win. "Once we got the lead, we were going to run the ball more. (It came down to) the team that wanted it more was going to do it."
Sequim's defense effectively manhandled a Sentinel offense to just seven first downs all game and three third-down conversions - zero in the second half.
Much of that stoic defense came from the Wolves' defensive line, including 300-pound senior lineman Thomas Gallagher and soph Frank Catelli.
Sequim's junior outside linebacker, helped keep the Sentinels at bay by stuffing reverse running plays and quarterback keepers in the backfield.
He credited Sequim's offensive and defensive line for the evening's victory.
"When they (the linemen) all do their job, they make it happen," Yamamoto said.
"We spent a half trying to get our offense going but ... the linemen did a great job providing opportunities for our offense."
Sequim's offense, seeking a bit of rhythm on offense after stumbling 21-7 at Cascade Christian a week before, looked like it might slip once again as the Wolves sought an effective blend of passing and rushing in its new spread offense.
Besides a game-opening touchdown drive, the Wolves simply sputtered at times for much of the first half.
But Sequim scored on three of its four second half drives, alternating between Decker's helmet-rattling runs and Rickerson's short-range, down marker-moving tosses.
When Rickerson found Clancy Catelli from 27 yards out on a third-and-eight with three minutes left in the third quarter, Sequim took a 12-10 lead it would never relinquish.
Rickerson and Decker added short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Sequim got on the board early, going 48 yards in eight plays, capped by Decker's one-yard plunge. Decker had five carries for 32 yards on the drive.
Steilacoom drove to the Sequim 22-yard-line before Gillis stopped the drive, picking off the first of four interceptions thrown by Steilacoom signal-caller Joey Vela.
The Sentinels struck back soon enough, however, after Kris Ortiz intercepted a Rickerson pass, and Steilacoom drove 40 yards in nine plays. Ameer Yarborough, the Sentinels' long, lanky halfback, had a key 20-yard run on fourth down and capped the drive with a one-yard score - also on fourth down - to put Steilacoom up 7-6.
The teams traded possessions until a few seconds before halftime, when Sequim's Tyler Forshaw picked off another Vela pass.
Steilacoom opened the third quarter with a scoring drive, aided by a 19-yard pass play on fourth-and-16. Sentinel kicker Jake McCane connected from 25 yards out, putting the home team up 10-6.
Sequim, getting the benefit of a botched Steilacoom onside kick, drove 55 yards in six plays, overcoming a holding penalty and 18-yard sack. On third and eight, Rickerson found Clancy Catelli - the multi-talented receiver and linebacker so sorely missed in last week's loss thanks to an ankle injury - with a 27-yard touchdown toss. Sequim led 12-10.
After Sequim and Steilacoom traded possessions, penalties started piling up for the Sentinels. After back-to-back holding calls with less than two minutes left in the third quarter - Steilacoom's first penalties of the game - the Sentinels were forced to punt. Sequim took advantage quickly. The Wolves scored on a 10-play drive that included a 15-yard Sentinel personal foul call and a Rickerson-to-Jeremie Oliver 13-yard pass on fourth down and eight to go. Rickerson finished the drive, scoring from two yards out to put Sequim up 18-10.
Frank Catelli ended Steilacoom's next drive with his second sack of the night and the Wolves responded with a clock-killing, 12-play drive of five minutes and 15 seconds. Decker found the end zone from a yard out for the game's final score.
Beleaguered Eagles are next
The Wolves play their last of three consecutive away games when they travel to Silverdale Stadium Friday night to take on Klahowya.
The Eagles (0-1 in league, 0-4 overall) are coming off a 64-0 defeat at North Mason.
The Eagles traditionally boast a formidable ground attack but after a 3-7 season, they lost their top three rushers to graduation: Andre Moore (1,234 yards in 2008), Cody Hertenstein (599 yards) and Randy Schmittler (425).
Last season, Sequim dominated the Eagles 36-19 and haven't lost to Klahowya since the 2002 season, racking up nine consecutive wins since then.
Nisqually League standings
Team Lg. Over.
Fife 1-0 2-2
Eatonville 1-0 1-3
N. Mason 1-0 4-0
Sequim 1-0 3-1
Kingston 0-1 0-4
Klahowya 0-1 0-4
Steilacoom 0-1 0-4
Washington 0-1 1-3
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.