ILWACO — After Life Christian defeated Ocosta 50-0 the week before, who would've guessed that halfway through the second quarter of Saturday's game with Ilwaco the score would be tied 0-0? It was a testament to how far the Fishermen have come in such a short time. Take away a few mistakes, and who knows, maybe it's Ilwaco tied for third place in the league instead of the Eagles.
Life Christian (2-1) used two big plays to secure their 26-15 win Saturday afternoon — a 77-yard interception for a touchdown on one of Ilwaco's best drives in the first half, and a 62-yard run for a score in the third quarter.
Ilwaco (1-2, 2-2) came into the game having scored more in their previous game (50) than they had in their last four combined.
But offense was tough to come by during the hot day game. During time outs the players were commanded to remove their helmets and take in water. Every trip to the sideline also meant a trip to the water fountain that was set up along the track.
“Our team played great in the first half. Second half we had a couple of miscues, but nothing major, nothing we can't fix,” said Brandon Sparks after the game. “We just played a better team this week than we did last week.”
One bright spot for the Fishermen offense was Alec Bell, who carried the ball 21 times for 165 yards — nearly 8 yards per carry — and a touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Receiver Riki Thompson, who led the team in receiving, caught the 2-point conversion afterward.
“As an offensive lineman, I'd love to have number 44 running behind me,” said head coach Kevin McNulty of Bell. “Fun to watch people bouncing off of him.”
Part of Ilwaco's success last week was due to the fact that they were able to switch between the pass and the run. McNulty said that dropped passes were definitely an issue for the Ilwaco offense Saturday, with quarterback Jack Odneal only completing 7 of 22 pass attempts.
“We were able to put some drives together,” said McNulty, a fact that is clear when looking at how the Fishermen outgained the Eagles by nearly 100 total yards. “It wasn't like we couldn't move the football, it's just the timing. We had our opportunities today.”
One area the coach had no complaints about was the team's defense.
“Our defense played the best football that we've played in three weeks,” he told his team following the game. “I'm excited about that. Our defense can stop some people.”
Jack Kaino said that switching some people around earlier in the week made the difference.
“We really got our defense down the last week. Starting to realize that we've got to fill our own gaps,” he said. “We think everyone's in the right spot now on defense.”
Ilwaco's first score of the game came with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter when Odneal hit receiver Garret Petit in the middle of the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown. Micah Huss followed with a successful extra point.
“I know you guys were barbecuing out there, I thought I was gonna melt right into the ground,” said McNulty to his team. He also reiterated the confidence he has in the group. “You've heard me say it. We'll be playing in the crossover playoff game if you continue to improve. Make it a goal.”
Ilwaco will host league opponent Chief Leschi of Puyallup on Friday, with an early start of 5:30 p.m,. due to continued issues with stadium lights at Peterson Field. Leschi is 0-3 on the year, having been outscored 122-26 in their first three games. The team has lost 30-straight games, their last win coming Oct. 29, 2010 over Rainier Christian.
Life Christian 0 7 12 7 — 26
Ilwaco 0 0 0 15 — 15
LC- 8:17- Jack Hohimer- 77 int. return(Ryder Blake kick)
LC-8:27- Michael McKay 10 run- Kick failed(doink off crossbar)
LC-4:26- McKay 62 run- run failed
I- 10:34- Garret Petit- 4 pass from Jack Odneal- Micah Huss-K
LC- 3:17- Wyatt Dunlap- 2 run- Blake kick-
I- 0:02- Alec Bell 4 run- (Riki Thompson pass from Jack Odneal)
LC-McKay 8-107,Sam Absten-8-61, Dunlap-13-49, Hohimer 1-4,Ja'Ontay Foster 2-19,Jeremy Pallwitz 1 (-1)
Ilwaco-Alec Bell 21-165- Jack Kaino 19-78, Jack Odneal 5 (-4)
LC - Hohimer 6Mc-10-50-0 Absten 0-1-0-0
Ilwaco - Odneal 7-22-82-2
LC - Gage Roth- 1-23, mcKay 2-13, Absten 1-7, Ishaiah Greene. 2-7
Ilwaco - Riki Thompson- 3-38-Brandon Sparks 1-14, Petit 1-4, Jake Van Gelder 1-28, Matt McDonald 1(-2)
By the Numbers
• Ilwaco is currently tied with South Bend for fifth in the nine team Pacific League.
• South Bend picked up their first win in 19 games on Friday, beating Tacoma Baptist 14-7.
• Raymond will visit North Beach Friday night in what may be the game of the year. Both teams are undefeated and atop the league standings, with the winner having the tie-breaking advantage. Raymond has outscored their opponents 135-20, while North Beach has outscored their opponents 164-14.
• Those two Pacific League teams also appeared in last Thursday's state rankings, Raymond at number eight and North Beach at number 10. Central League team Napavine is ranked number one in the state, with Toledo ranked fourth and Adna ranked seventh.