Known for his throwing arm and scrambling ability, Sequim senior quarterback Riley Cowan helped the Wolves last week to a major early-season upset with his kicking prowess.
Cowan had three fields goals to go along with his school-record 51st career touchdown pass, leading Sequim to a 16-14 win over No. 9-ranked North Kitsap on Sept. 14.
Cowan threw for 174 yards and a touchdown — including a key 26-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Rollness — but it was his deft punts and kickoff placements that had the Vikings starting six drives inside their own 10 yard line.
“He’s been a good punter the whole time (he’s played here),” Sequim head coach Erik Wiker said.
“Field possession is huge and we talk with the kids about special teams all the time and how important they are.”
Sequim also came out with a quick-set approach on offense, breaking from a huddle with two receivers already fanned out near each sideline.
“We didn’t want them to make their switches,” said Rollness, who had six catches for 77 yards. “We’ve got good coaches who can see that.”
The move paid off, as the Wolves were able to score 16 points by midway through the third quarter and hold on for their first win against the Poulsbo team since 2010. NK had out-scored Sequim 84-7 in the past two meetings.
Cowan said the game may be his most memorable in three-plus seasons with the Wolves.
“I have to reflect on it, but right now I would say its No. 1,” he said. “All the work we all did over the summer, all the work we did in practice, we run a ton of plays at practice and it was all for North K. And we beat North K.”
How it happened
Sequim got on the board early by winning a battle of field position. After Cowan pinned the Vikings on their own 3-yard-line, Sequim forced a punt, and Cowan soon put SHS ahead 3-0 with a 30-yard field goal.
Another Cowan punt at the end of the first quarter put NK on its own 2-yard-line, and a Ben Cowan sack forced aothern NK punt that set up Sequim’s lone touchdown.
With 9:24 left in the second quarter, Cowan lofted a pass that Rollness snagged for a 26-yard score and a 10-0 lead.
The TD pass gave Cowan a school record 51st touchdown toss.
Rollness said his quarterback changed his route at the line and a Viking safety came over to make a play but slipped, leading to a kind of “jump ball” that Rollness plucked for the score and 10-0 Sequim lead.
Sequim’s Joey Oliver intercepted NK quarterback Andrew Blackmore on the next play. Sequim was unable to capitalize, however, when the Vikings stuffed a fourth-and-1 run.
NK then produced its most impressive drive the game, gouging Sequim for 72 yards on seven plays before Blackmore found Colton Bower from 16 yards out, closing the gap to 10-7.
Sequim mounted one more key first half drive, but a 29-yard Cowan-to-Rollness TD pass play was negated by penalty, and the Wolves had to settle for a three-point halftime lead.
Second half surges
The second half began much like the first, with Cowan instead placing a kickoff expertly in a corner, forcing the Vikings inside their own 10-yard-line. Sequim’s defense forced another punt, which set up Cowan’s second field goal and a 13-7 SHS advantage.
On the scoring play, Cowan saw this field goal attempt strike light pole wires above the field, and fall short. Despite protests of the North Kitsap bench, Cowan was awarded a re-kick … and connected on the 27-yard retry.
Another well-placed Sequim kickoff and a quick North Kitsap three-and-put set up another Sequim field goal just four minutes later; the 18-yarder put Sequim up 16-7.
The Vikings responded with their second touchdown drive of the night, capping an eight-play, 75-yard campaign when Blackmore found Bower for their second score, this time from 22 yards out.
NK defensive back John Jones looked to give the Vikings the lead after picking off a Cowan pass with 10 minutes left, but Sequim’s defense came up big three more times late. Cowan broke up a sure touchdown pass in the end zone to end one drive, Austin Newton recovered a Viking fumble to end a second and the Wolves finally held off a last-minute drive to preserve the two-point win.
Cowan finished 17-of-30 passing, with 142 yards of those coming in the first half.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” Rollness said.
Sequim running back Taig Wiker had six catches for 51 yards to go with his 63 rushing yards.
The Sequim coach said he was impressed with the play of sophomore Garret Hoesel on defense, a crew that limited North Kitsap to 16 passing yards in the first half and without a third down conversion until the fourth quarter.
“I think we won three aspects (offense, defense, special teams) of the game for the most part,” Erik Wiker said.
He said this is likely Sequim’s first win over a bigger, state-ranked team since a 42-21 win over 3A Bainbridge in 2004.
”We played really well together,” Rollness said.”We never got down on one another.”
Sequim hosts a series of 2018 Homecoming activities this week, capped by a their Homecoming match-up with North Mason on Friday, Sept. 21.
The Bulldogs (3-0) are coming off a 51-47 victory at home against Olympic.
Sequim then travels to Kingston on Sept. 28 to battle the Buccaneers, who will be celebrating their own Homecoming festivities that week.
The Wolves are at Olympic on Oct. 5.