ILWACO — Ethan Personius threw two of his three touchdown passes in the first quarter in his debut, helping the Fishermen to a 47-24 home victory over the Nestucca Bobcats on Friday, Sept. 1. Brandon McMullen had 183 yards of offense, Trent Ramsey caught two touchdown passes, and Personius went 12 of 19 for 172 yards.
Personius fired a nine-yard touchdown pass to Trent Ramsey to cap a season-opening touchdown drive 4:11 into the game.
“Trent made a nice move running after the catch,” said Ilwaco coach Kevin McNulty. “He had a good first game of his senior season.”
The Bobcats relentlessly blitzed Personius, the sophomore quarterback making his first career start. Ilwaco responded by calling screen passes and runs to the outside. With few defenders playing back, Ilwaco receivers had an easy time gaining yardage after the catch on quick throws.
“They blitzed heavily, sending eight guys after the quarterback,” Ilwaco coach Kevin McNulty said. “We throw a lot of screens anyway, and their defense dictated that we do that even more.” McNulty credited the offensive line with a good performance against all the pressure, and credited Personius with an efficient opening game. Personius was not sacked in the game.
Mostly, though, the Fishermen relied on their running game. McMullen had 122 yards on 23 carries, leading Ilwaco to a 294-yard performance on the ground. With blitzers bursting through the middle, the Fishermen found little running yardage available inside. “We ran off tackle, and to the outside,” McNulty said.
McMullen caught a 13-yard pass for a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and extended the lead to 21-0 with a one-yard touchdown run with 2:05 in the first half. McMullen was Ilwaco’s leading rusher and receiver (four catches for 61 yards), and would add a third touchdown in the third quarter.
Twelve seconds after McMullen’s second-quarter touchdown, Nestucca struck back with a 55-yard pass from Cole Strober to Gabe Garcia. The Fishermen were dominating the game, but that big play and a two-point conversion cut the lead to 21-8.
Ilwaco answered with a quick drive, completing quick passes to the outside and getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Ramsey capped the drive with a 23-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown and a 28-8 halftime lead.
Facing a big deficit, the Bobcats got some yardage through the air in the second half. Strober finished 14 of 20 for 192 yards and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Ilwaco brought players off their bench in the fourth quarter, including linebacker Brady Vinsonhaler, who undercut a receiver’s route to intercept a pass. Parker Kaech got a few snaps at quarterback. Brandon Duke (14 carries, 69 yards) had a fourth quarter rushing touchdown. Trenton Cox completed the scoring with a rushing touchdown with two seconds left in the game.