ORTING – Sumner has relied on its explosive offensive backfield all season, but in a crucial SPSL 2A showdown with Orting, it was defense and special teams that provided the fireworks.
The Spartans’ defense held strong on fourth down twice in the final minutes to deny a pair of promising drives by Orting, and a blocked extra point in the second quarter proved to be the difference during a nail-biting 14-13 win on the road.
Lokahi Kamau finished with 144 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead Sumner. Teammate Jeremy Jackson added 40 more tough yards on the ground. Orting’s Jaysen Yoro had 145 yards and two scores.
“This is definitely a booster for us,” Kamau said. “This was supposed to be a big game, and it was, but now we just go on to the next game. I don’t think anybody thought that blocked kick was going to be the difference, but you have to keep that in mind, that it can come back to that one play.”
With the win the Spartans (5-1, 4-0 league) move one step closer to their first league crown since 2010. Orting (4-2, 2-2) takes a step back in the race with the regular season rapidly dwindling.
“The defense this year is a key to our success,” Sumner coach Keith Ross said. “They won the game for us there. Orting played our run game better than I thought they would. They are a good team. But when it comes down to a close game like this, the team with the best defense is going to win.”
While Sumner can point to the blocked kick and two key stops as the difference, Orting must feel as if it let the game slip away. The Cardinals came oh, so close in the fourth quarter but couldn’t punch it in.
First they fought their way down to Sumner’s 24-yard line with less than five minutes to play before running into a wall of Spartans on fourth-and-2. Then they got the ball back two minutes later, but a long pass just off the finger tips of an open receiver stalled the drive and ultimately handed the game to the Spartans.
First-half action made it appear a high-scoring game was in the works as Kamau and Yoro traded long runs to set up scores for each team. But Sumner kept Yoro in check after halftime, and Kamau never quite broke loose in the second half. Both backs had over 100 yards rushing at halftime.
“I don’t know if we bottled Yoro up,” Ross said. “But we didn’t let him run all over the field on us.”
In any case, the plan to contain Yoro worked well enough. Now the Spartans can brag about their defense as well as their running game.
“The defense is who held the game together for us,” Kamau said. “We really relied on them in the fourth quarter. The pressure was on them there in last minutes, and they did what they had to do. They saved us the game.”