ILWACO — Two interceptions by Dylan Simonson and big defensive plays by Keegan Kemmer kept Ocosta’s offense in check, but the Wildcats came away with the 12-7 victory over the Fishermen Friday, Oct. 11.
Simonson picked off a pass in the end zone, and scored returning another interception for Ilwaco’s only touchdown. Kemmer had a sack, a pass batted down, and a tackle for loss.
With senior quarterback Cole Hatton at the helm, the Wildcats (6-0 overall, 2-0 Pacific League) have one of the region’s top passing offenses, but had a tough time breaking through against the Fishermen (3-3, 2-1). They marched inside the Ilwaco 20-yard line on each of their first two drives, but came up empty. On the opening drive, Kemmer chased down a sweep to the outside for a four-yard loss on third-and-two from the 18, getting the ball back to the Fishermen a play later. On the next drive, Hatton’s pass was tipped by his receiver and intercepted in the end zone by Simonson.
Kemmer continued making plays to keep the Cats off the scoreboard. He batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage and made an open-field tackle to prevent a big run and force a punt. Late in the half, Ocosta again got inside the 20. But Isaac O’Hagan dropped a pass that could have gotten him near the goal line, Kemmer sacked Hatton on third down, and Parker Kaech broke up a pass at the 10-yard line. Ilwaco took over with 50 seconds remaining in the half.
However, Ocosta finally broke through just before the half after recovering a Jackson Wilkin fumble at the Ilwaco 11; Dakota Davis weaved through defenders for an 11-yard rushing TD to make it 6-0 at halftime.
Kaech, playing quarterback for the second straight week, had a 45-yard run to set Ilwaco up on first-and-goal at the five on their first drive of the second half. The drive stalled there. Ilwaco tried a field goal attempt, but Tanner Brasket missed wide left from 24 yards.
Simonson’s second interception came on a pass that was tipped to him by an open receiver. Simonson ran it back, and Brasket hit the extra point for a 7-6 Ilwaco lead with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
Ocosta responded with its best drive of the game. Davis got a pair of third-down conversions, one with a catch and the other with a run, then had a 27-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-14 to put Ocosta ahead 12-7 with 11 minutes remaining.
Ilwaco then marched 51 yards in seven plays to the Ocosta 16. But the drive died there, as Ocosta sacked Kaech and forced him into two incompletions.
The Fishermen had one more chance when Ocosta had to punt with 1:45 left, but Simonson muffed the punt and the Cats recovered. By the time Ilwaco got the ball back again, there were just 10 seconds left and they were backed up inside their own 10-yard line.
Ocosta is tied with Willapa Valley atop the six-team Pacific League Coastal Division at 2-0. Ilwaco is tied with Raymond for third at 2-1. Ilwaco hosts Fort Vancouver for a non-league matchup Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.