When the Central Kitsap long-snapper snapped the football over the punter’s head and through the back of the end zone for a safety, Gig Harbor receiver Kellen Gregory couldn’t quite believe what he saw.
Maybe because it had just happened a few minutes earlier.
Over the course of the first half Friday night, Gig Harbor scored four points on two safeties — both snaps over the punter’s head and through the back of the end zone.
“At that point, I had no idea what was even going on,” Gregory said. “I was so confused. I didn’t think it was real.”
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The weirdness didn’t stop there at Roy Anderson Field. Central Kitsap tried a fake punt. The punter got strung out to the sideline and realized the fake wasn’t going to work, so he tried to get a last-second punt off. It went about 5 yards, right into Gig Harbor defender Zayne Ball’s hands. Ball returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
“That was the weirdest half of football I think I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gregory said.
Paired with a 25-yard Nick Yockey touchdown pass to Gregory, the Tides took a big lead into half and never looked back, cruising to a 39-13 victory over the visiting Cougars.
While Gig Harbor’s offense had an up-and-down evening, the defense played relentlessly, only conceding points late in the fourth quarter after the starters had been pulled.
“It was really just our defense finally clicking,” said Gig Harbor cornerback Jurrian Hering. “Before, we struggled. We weren’t getting turnovers. We came out and the turnover margin was great. We just played lights out.”
Gregory hauled in a pair of touchdowns on the day — one from Yockey and another from sophomore quarterback Cade Dessert.
“I’m feeling awesome,” Gregory said. “It’s good to be back. I was out the first couple weeks but I’m feeling really good now. I think the team is really coming together, and starting to play together as a group finally, instead of just as individuals. We’re starting to mesh.”
Gig Harbor lost a tough one a week prior to Yelm, in a game that went down to the wire. The Tides rebounded nicely.
“This was much needed,” Hering said. “Our team was a little frustrated with ourselves. We just came out and proved that we’re a good football team. It was great. This is amazing. The atmosphere with our team is great. We’re ready for next week.”
Gig Harbor’s Malik Livingston recovered a Central Kitsap fumble in the end zone with 5 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter and Jesse Valona added a 14-yard rush to put Gig Harbor up 39-0 and effectively seal the game.
“I think this was a big game,” Gregory said. “Our goal ultimately is making it to the playoffs. That one hurt (agianst Yelm). We wanted to come out here tonight and give it all we’ve got. That’s what you have to do to make (the) playoffs.”