Up by 20 points in the fourth quarter, Peninsula was about ready to shut the door on crosstown rival Gig Harbor in the annual Fish Bowl game.
With a heavy dose of the run game throughout Friday night, it was the perfect time for senior quarterback Ryder Johnson to exploit the Tides defense with the play-action deep ball. Gig Harbor bit on the play action, and speedy junior wide receiver Alex Beloate split the safeties, and ran under the ball.
“Money,” Beloate said of Johnson’s throw, which turned into a 62-yard touchdown. It was the final nail in the coffin, as the Seahawks cruised to a 33-7 victory over Gig Harbor in front of thousands of fans at Roy Anderson Field.
Beloate finished with 111 yards and two touchdowns on five catches.
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“I was just in shock — I haven’t had a game like that,” Beloate said. “It felt awesome.”
The win for Peninsula (3-0, 1-0 South Sound Conference 3A) snapped a three-game losing streak in the Fish Bowl, and got the Seahawks off on the right foot in their new league. For Peninsula coach Ross Filkins, it’s just another win.
“It feels no different than it did last week or the week before that,” he said. “We just play one game at a time. It’s not about last year or records, it doesn’t matter. These rivalry games, you just take them one play at a time.”
Peninsula once again used its bruising ground game to wear down its opponent. The Seahawks led Gig Harbor 20-7 at intermission, and extended their advantage in the second half. Senior running back Kenny Easton led the Seahawks with 130 yards on 20 carries, while senior Blake Cantu chipped in 61 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
“The kids are doing a good job executing,” Filkins said. “With our offense, we love to assert our running game.”
And the Seahawks got the vertical passing game going, too. It helped having Johnson back after he missed the first two games for unspecified reasons. He split time with junior quarterback Burke Griffin. Johnson showed off a strong arm throughout the game, finding Beloate for the two scores.
“Ryder has got a cannon — he’s got a very strong arm,” Filkins said. “They can both execute the passing game. Throwing off his back foot and throwing it 40, 50 yards, he’s special in that way.”
Johnson was just happy to be back on the field with his teammates.
“It was great, I loved it,” he said. “It was brutal (not playing the first two games). I just wanted to be down on the field, playing with them.”
For Gig Harbor (1-2, 0-1 SSC 3A), it was a familiar story: The Tides had chances, but committed three turnovers, one of which was an interception deep in the red zone.
“The QBs tried really hard, but struggled with our reads tonight,” said Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler. “You can’t win when you turn the ball over. That’s a good Peninsula game. It felt like the game was close for a while. But again, a turnover in the red zone is a death sentence.”
Filkins was beaming afterward.
“We love this game; we love each other,” he said. “Our kids play so hard for each other. All we want to do is go 1-0 (every week).”