When Yelm High School’s star quarterback Kyle Robinson went down with an ankle injury and the Tornados were forced to turn to their sophomore backup, Peninsula defensive back Tanner McKinney may have been licking his chops a bit.
McKinney intercepted Benjamin Hoffmann twice in the second half, helping the Seahawks bottle up the Tornados in a crucial 20-6 road win on Friday night.
“It was a blast — that’s probably one of the best games I’ve ever played,” McKinney said. “I’m just honored that I was able to play with that capability. It was just a great team win.”
It was, indeed. Peninsula (6-2 overall, 5-1 South Sound Conference 3A) played with physicality from start to finish, bouncing back after a stunning loss against Central Kitsap a week earlier.
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“The key was to just do what we do,” said Peninsula quarterback Burke Griffin. “We had a tough week last week, we wanted to come out hot and play the way we knew we could. It all started with our linemen. They took care of me and they took care of our running backs this week. It was a good offensive game for us.”
Peninsula scored on its first drive of the game, setting the tone for the evening. Running back Braeden Potter’s 5-yard rush got the Seahawks up early.
Yelm looked like it might answer in the first quarter, but Peninsula blocked a Tornados field goal attempt. Even when Yelm scored a touchdown in the second quarter, Peninsula blocked the point after attempt. Already, Yelm had left four points off the board.
“I thought that was big,” said Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo. “We probably played our worst game of football when we needed to be at our best. The penalties were bad — that hurt us. Special teams was just not on tonight.”
Penalties were a glaring issue for both teams. Personal foul penalties were handed out like Halloween candy by the officials. Peninsula running back Michael Foreman and Yelm receiver Jacob McCown were both ejected from the game on separate plays.
But through it all, Peninsula kept its composure and kept chipping away. Before the ejection, Foreman piled up a 65-yard kickoff return and a 5-yard rush for a touchdown in the second quarter. Griffin made the score 20-6 in the third quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said. “We were all embarrassed with our performance from the previous week. But we just flushed it and we moved on. We were 0-0 this week. We knew we had to come with a great effort. I’m really proud of all of our guys. They did a great job tonight.”
For Yelm (5-3, 4-2), the coaches, players and fans probably aren’t thinking of much else besides Robinson’s injury. He was hurt when he dove for a loose ball and another player landed on his foot.
“His ankle is pretty bad,” Ronquillo. “He’s going to get X-rays tonight. He’s probably out for a few weeks. We’ll see.”
Members of the Yelm coaching staff fear Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain. If true, he would likely miss the rest of the season.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Peninsula’s Griffin said. “I hope he heals up quickly.”
Peninsula will host Timberline (7-0, 5-0) on Friday, Oct. 27 at Roy Anderson Field for the league title. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Peninsula: Griffin 9/17, 86 yards, INT.
Yelm: Robinson 4/7, 60 yards; Hoffmann 3/7, 2 INT; Palmer 0/1.
Peninsula: Griffin 9/41, TD; Potter 15/90, TD; Foreman 7/39, TD; Marten 6/24; McDonald 4/14; Keim 1/9; Beloate 1/11.
Yelm: Palmer 18/96; Robinson 9/52, TD; Hoffmann 3/9.
Peninsula: Keimn 3/39; Foreman 1/17; Beloate 2/14; Wittmers 2/14; Potter 1/0.
Yelm: Gifford 1/22; Clements 1/20; Morris 1/19; Moir 1/19; Osso 1/7; Palmer 2/2.