Nathaniel Holcomb couldn’t help but think about what happened last week in Puyallup’s loss to Emerald Ridge.
With 33 seconds left to play, Holcomb threw an untimely pick-six to Emerald Ridge senior Chase McGuire that gave the Jaguars a come-from-behind win at Sparks Stadium. Sitting there on the turf was the most-bitter moment of Holcomb’s career.
“After that game it hurt me,” Holcomb said. “As the quarterback, all eyes are on you, and when you don’t come in the clutch, it sticks in my mind.”
One week later, Holcomb was 19-for-32 passing for 383 yards and six touchdowns against Puyallup’s other, more tenured, cross-town rival in the Vikings’ 49-7 victory over Rogers on Friday at Sparks Stadium.
“This game, I came out and just played to the best of my potential” said Holcomb. who now has 15 touchdowns through the first three games of the season.
Puyallup was without coach Gary Jeffers for the second consecutive week, missing both the Emerald Ridge and Rogers games. He had sent a letter to players and parents saying he’s dealing with a “family emergency.” No other details have been provided and offensive coordinator Ray Brassard has taken over as interim coach in Jeffers’ place.
Jeffers entered his seventh year as the Vikings’ coach.
Puyallup got in a groove when Holcomb found his favorite target Noah McFadden (7 receptions, 111 yards) on a slant, and the senior receiver 38 yards to move the Vikings into Rogers’ territory.
Four plays later, Holcomb found McFadden again, this time for a quick 12-yard strike.
“We couldn’t get anything going for the first 10 minutes of the game,” Brassard said. “Finally we got that one little out-route, got a little bit of confidence and it seemed like the defense couldn’t stop Nathaniel after that.”
After Rogers (0-3) fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, Holcomb hit a streaking Tallon Yerbury for a 15-yard strike and gave Puyallup a 14-0 to end the first.
Holcomb found Darius Morrison for a 40-yard touchdown on his next throw, giving the Vikings senior quarterback three consecutive touchdowns on as many throws.
“I was able to find a little bit of a rhythm after my first catch, and something just clicked,” said Morrison who finished with 5 receptions for 113 yards and scores of 40 and 15 yards.
Holcomb finished a sterling first half (15-for-21, 290 yards, five touchdowns) with a quick 25-yard receiver screen to McFadden, and after Rogers running back Dayshawn Smith ran in a 2 yard score, Puyallup led their long-time rivals 28-7 at the half.
“It’s what we’ve become. We like to throw the ball a lot, and when we have a quarterback that can make every throw on the field, we feel like we’re going to take whatever they’re going to give us,” Brassard said.
Holcomb and the Viking offense didn’t have much in the second half after connecting with Morrison in the third for their second hook up in the end zone, a 15 yard strike in the corner, and Honore Thomas rambled off a 44 yard run for a score to push Puyallup’s lead to 49-7.
Nathaniel Holcomb increased South Sound leading passing numbers to 1,130 yards and 15 touchdowns after the first three games of the season.
“It’s a team win,” Holcomb said. “If I didn’t throw any touchdowns, and we ran all our touchdowns, or our defense made all our scores, I’d feel just as good as I do now.”
After opening up with three consecutive games at Sparks Stadium, Puyallup will travel away from their home turf for the first time this season when they head out to Port Orchard to take on South Kitsap (0-2) next Friday.