NASELLE — Antonio Nolan had a 60-yard touchdown run on the opening play. Cole Dorman followed with two touchdown runs in the first 6:03, completing his first ten passes as the Comets clinched the Coastal League title with a 70-22 win over Mary M. Knight on Homecoming night to finish 5-0 in league play.
“It was our best game of the year all-around — offense, defense, special teams,” coach Jeff Eaton said. “We’ve been a slow-starting team, and I implored them not to do that again.”
Josh Townsen recovered an onside kick to start the game, catching Ethan Lindstrom’s kick in the air on a bounce. Nolan took the handoff and weaved through the defense for the touchdown, which put the Comets ahead 8-0 just 22 seconds in. On the Owls’ third play, Erik Lund ripped the ball loose and the Comets recovered. That set up a five-play scoring drive, capped by Dorman’s 11-yard run with 8:57 left.
The Comets had the more talented team, but game-planned to ensure that star running back Austin Fries wouldn’t single-handedly beat them. Fries excels at beating linemen to the outside and turning the corner. Naselle relied on defensive backs to recognize run plays and chase Fries to the sideline, a task at which Parker Dalton had great success.
“I read the guard and quarterback, and as soon as I read run, I came off my man,” Dalton said. “If I couldn’t read the guard and quarterback, then I left as soon as the ball was handed off.”
With Dalton and the defense preventing big runs, while making big plays of their own, the Comets continued to roll. Fa’aoso Tutu’u blocked a punt to set up another quick touchdown drive, which made it 24-0 halfway through the first quarter. On the next play, Knight quarterback Zack Thompson ran for the Knights’ first first down, only for Dalton to jar the ball loose and recover it for the Comets, leading to another Naselle score. Late in the quarter, Dalton read a deep pass by Thompson, came off his own receiver, and intercepted the ball.
“I was looking at my guy, but when he slowed down, I looked for the pass… It was hanging in the air a little, so I went and got it,” Dalton said.
By halftime, the Comets led 44-0, and the homecoming crowd was secure in the knowledge that the Comets would be league champions. At the halftime ceremony, Samantha Wert was named homecoming Queen, and Comet lineman Carson Bergeson was named homecoming King. Joining them in the homecoming court were senior princesses Jordan Clarke and Samanta Mayrel; senior princes Erik Lund and Zach Thorsen; junior prince and princess Antonio Nolan and Kenzie Glenn; sophomores Oggie Lopez and Hannah Footh; and freshmen Kolby Glenn and Kylee Tarabochia.
Lindstrom took over at quarterback for the second half. On a 4:08 scoring drive to start the third quarter, Lindstrom had a 23-yard run and a seven-yard touchdown run. He got a pass to Dalton in the back corner of the end zone against perfect coverage for the two-point conversion and a 52-0 lead.
Mary M. Knight then finally got Fries loose. On a third-and-25 play, Thompson faked a pass to clear out the defensive backs, then gave it to Fries on a delayed handoff. Fries got into the open field and took it 82 yards down the sideline to put Knight on the board. The Owls also got a 73-yard touchdown run from Jason Shaw and, with just over a minute left, an 86-yard Eddie Tibbets kickoff return for a touchdown. Naselle had the last word with Fa’aoso Tutu’u’s 78-yard touchdown run on the final play of the game.