ILWACO — The Fishermen stayed within two points of league-leading Pe Ell/Willapa Valley through three quarters before the Titans pulled away for a 38-20 win on Friday, Oct. 13. The Titans ran for 374 yards, over seven per carry. However, a workhorse performance by Brandon McMullen, behind an offensive line performance that coach Kevin McNulty called Ilwaco’s best of the year, kept the Fishermen in it.
The Fishermen offense continued to rely very heavily on McMullen, who had 178 of their 246 total yards and all three touchdowns. He carried 36 times for 148 yards and had three of Ilwaco’s five pass receptions. With the line paving the way, McMullen churned out first downs to keep possessions alive.
“Our line of Calahbe Whelden, Royce Murry, Marcus Connor, Chris Lurf and Bryan Sparks, along with Jeb Sheldon at tight end, played their best game of the year,” McNulty said.
McMullen showed remarkable durability, taking 36 carries after getting 32 the previous week. “He doesn’t take big hits,” McNulty said. “He delivers a blow (to the defender), and he kind of slides off tackles.”
The Titans led 14-12 at halftime and, after getting a stop to start the third quarter, powered their way down the field. “They ran the ball up the middle eight times in a row. They went no huddle, and ran the same play eight straight times,” McNulty said.
Ilwaco answered on its next possession with a fake field goal that went for a 20-yard scoring pass to McMullen. McMullen caught the two point conversion, cutting the lead to two.
In the fourth quarter, Valley’s Tyson Nissell had a pair of touchdown runs, giving him three in the half, to put the game away.
“The fourth quarter they owned,” McNulty said. “They wore us down. It was a war of attrition, and we started losing guys due to injuries. One play, we had a player injured, and couldn’t get a replacement in on time, and they ran for a big gain.” McNulty indicated that none of the injuries were major, but “we had some guys banged up.”
Ilwaco fell to 1-2 in league play and 3-4 overall, tied for fourth place, with two games remaining. Valley improved to 3-0 and 5-2.