Led by five touchdowns by Colton Bower, the Vikings came from behind to beat a hungry Knights team 35-27
BREMERTON — Bremerton came out hard and fast in the first half of its Olympic League 2A football game Friday night and by the end of the first quarter held a 21-7 lead over the North Kitsap Vikings.
North didn’t panic, and went to its bread and butter, the run game, specifically sophomore quarterback Colton Bower. Bower’s five touchdowns helped the Vikings methodically work their way back into the game and won 35-27.
Bower rushed for two touchdowns and had 185 yards on the ground on 25 carries and was 10-of-21 passing for 157 yards for three touchdowns.
“Not too many players, sophomore, in the state are as good as him,” NK coach Jeff Weible said of Bower’s performance. “That’s why he’s pretty high on a lot of school’s radars. Defensively, offensively … he does it all.”
The game was delayed for just over an hour after a thunderstorm settled over Bremerton Memorial Stadium. Once the storm cleared enough for the officials to give the go-ahead, the Knights thundered their way to a convincing lead.
Ethan Farley put Bremerton on the board first on a two-yard run at 8:27 of the first, 7-0. North tied the score at 7-7 on its ensuing possession on a Bower keeper from one-yard out at 3:40.
Kelo Legova’s 60-yard pass to Willis Newman was on the money and Newman turned up field, beat the lone safety, and ran into the end zone for a 14-7 lead at 1:52. At its own 24-yard line, Bower was intercepted by Newman on the Vikings next possession, giving the Knights another opportunity and they took advantage.
Legova found Darick DeJesus on a 19-yard strike as the first quarter expired to give Bremerton a two-score lead, 21-7.
“I think we came out strong and had a good mindset,” said Farley, a senior running back/linebacker. “We came out really good but tying it up (at the end of the first half) kind of got ahead and then we had a lot of plays we didn’t capitalize on.”
“They were aggressive,” Bower said of the Knights. “They came out and punched us in the throat and we were kind of on our heels.”
The Vikings went three-and-out in its next possession but the Vikings held Bremerton and forced a punt to get the ball back with 9:32 left in the first half. A big run by Bower up the middle gained the Vikings 26 yards and set up another TD run by Bower to cut the lead to 21-13 after a missed PAT.
A nearly seven minute drive for the Knights ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down and gave the ball back to North with 1:48 to go in the half. The Vikings tied it when Bower connected with Josh Fisher and a two-point conversion pass play from Jose Soria to Bower tied it at 21-21.
Bremerton coach Paul Theriault said a combination of factors led to North’s comeback.
“It’s assignment football,” he said. “There has to be guys up front doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that keeps the linebackers clean, so that’s part of it. The other part is linebackers making soldi reads. That’s another part of it. And then wrapping them up and putting them down instead of stripping the ball. Too much of that going on tonight too.”
North’s go-ahead score came on a pass from Bower to Cache Holmes from one yard that capped a 17-play, 73-yard drive that took over nine minutes off the clock to start the third quarter.
“We’ll be a better team each week,” Weible said. “That’s our goal is to be a little better each week. I just love our kids grittiness. I’m just very proud of the kids.”
That lone drive seemed to suck the air out of Bremerton’s defense. North added its final TD on a Bower pass from 26 yards out to Erik Burchill off a deflection.
“That was killer,” Bower said of the long drive. “That set the tone in the second half. We need that. We were on our heels the first place but the second half we cam out and drove the ball down the field and scored. So that was really killer for us. I mean, we didn’t panic. We’ve been down before and it didn’t really faze us that much. We were like ‘OK, let’s see what they’ve got.’
“They’re a fighting team. It was good. It showed who we were. We came back and fought and tied it at half and started the second half zero-zero.”
Bremerton added one more score, on a 50-yard pass from Legova to DeJesus with 11:43 left in the game. The Knights got the ball back one more time in the final minutes, and Legova connected on a critical pass to Jayden Quenga for 60 yards but the promising drive ended on fourth and 12 when Legova couldn’t find an open receiver and was forced out of bounds by the Vikings defense. Legova finished with 227 passing yards and three TDs and 77 rushing yards.
“Anytime you’re going for it at the end of the game and you don’t score, it slips away,” said Theriault. “But we expected this kind of game. We expected a pretty hard battle. We didn’t expect to blow them away, we didn’t expect they’ll blow us away. Their quarterback did a great job running the ball and that really kept those drives alive.
“It wasn’t just penalties. Our guys came to play tonight and so did they, so the better team won tonight.”