ILWACO — Mossy-rock went ahead early in the fourth quarter and made it hold up for a 19-18 win over Ilwaco on Friday, Sept. 27.

Colton McClure caught the tying 13-yard touchdown, and Matthew Panuska nailed the decisive extra point for Mossyrock’s first lead. A late interception sealed the game for the Vikings.

The Vikings started their go-ahead drive at midfield after an Ilwaco turnover on downs and 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Fishermen. Both teams had mostly kept the ball on the ground to that point (Ilwaco outrushed Mossyrock 196 yards to 106 on the night.) But Mossyrock found some success stacking three or four receivers on one side of the field to set up blocks on short passes. They went to the play three times on the final drive, including the TD to McClure.

The Fishermen then went three-and-out, punting on fourth-and-five from their own 25. The Vikings drove inside the 10-yard line before stalling out, turning it over on downs at the 13 with under four minutes remaining. The Fishermen, who have not kicked a field goal in years, essentially needed an 87-yard touchdown drive to win it.

Quarterback Jackson Wilkin converted a big third-and-seven, drawing the defense to the backfield with a fake handoff, taking off through a hole, and stretching forward to the first-down marker at the Ilwaco 26. On the next play, the Vikings didn’t go for a similar fake and stuffed Wilkin, who came up hobbling and had to go to the sideline. Parker Kaech took over at quarterback, rolled out, and threw a desperate deep ball for Nate Hopkins that was intercepted. The Vikings ran out the clock to preserve the victory.

Ilwaco scored on its first two possessions. The Fishermen capitalized on Trevor Hutson’s early fumble recovery with a 74-yard scoring drive, which featured a couple of direct snaps to Bubba Douglas and was capped by Wilkins’ five-yard touchdown run. Mossyrock’s Evan Gootgeld returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a score. Douglas was injured on the subsequent Ilwaco drive, but Dylan Simonson had three big gains including a 27-yard TD run that he bounced to the outside for a 12-6 lead with 8:55 in the half.

Ilwaco continued making big plays on defense. Safety Tanner Brasket intercepted a high pass a play after the Simonson touchdown, and later knocked another deep pass out of the receiver’s hands before he, too, went down with an injury. Junior Keegan Kemmer had a big game as a pass-rushing linebacker for Ilwaco, coming up with 1.5 sacks and about six pressures.

“It was definitely a breakout game for him,” coach Sean Cease said. “We had some injuries and had to play him, and he played hard.”

On its second-quarter touchdown drive Mossyrock faced fourth-and-20 following a sack that Kemmer had a hand in. They went to their stack play for the first time, bunching four receivers together and springing McClure loose for a gain to the 25. Four plays later, Austin King had a six-yard touchdown run to tie it.

Ilwaco had a 55-yard drive in the third quarter to regain the lead. The Fishermen started the drive with a fake sweep to Simonson, which opened up a 16-yard hole for Wilkin. Wilkin followed with a 12-yard gain to the outside, had an 18-yard run two plays later, then went untouched on an eight-yard touchdown run.

More pressure by Kemmer forced the Vikings to turn it over on downs on their next possession. But the Vikings stopped a fourth-and-one end-around to Kaech to get the ball back, setting up their winning drive.

Panuska’s extra-point was the only successful after-touchdown play by either team, which proved to be the difference. Mossyrock had missed on a pair of two-point tries, while Ilwaco had an extra point blocked and failed on two two-pointers of its own.

Ilwaco (2-2) visits North Beach (0-4) Friday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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