The win total may not be up to North Thurston's usual standards this season, but the Rams can point to one surprising gem this year — senior running back Dante Thomas.
Thomas ran for two touchdowns, Jake Harn threw for a pair and visiting North Thurston notched it's second victory on the season, beating Shelton, 28-14, in Narrows League 3A play on Friday.
After starting the season with five consecutive defeats - the first time in 30 years the Rams opened a campaign 0-5, North Thurston has won two out of its last three games, improving to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in league play to remain in contention for the league's fourth and final playoff spot.
Thomas, a first-year starter, finished with 90 hard-fought yards on 17 carries in less than desirable playing conditions.
"It was horrible," Thomas said about the rain-soaked field. "We're not used to playing on grass. All our games have been on field turf. It was wet and muddy. We had to earn every yard tonight."
Thomas, who has rushed for 687 yards and 9 TDs this year, sealed the game midway through the fourth quarter with a 32-yard touchdown run.
Josh Mosquera shared the load with Thomas, running for 101 yards on 14 carries.
Slippery conditions limited the Rams passing attack as Harn completed just 3 of 5 attempts for 38 yards, but two completions went for scores.
Harn hit Brandon Morgan on a 10-yard scoring strike to get North Thurston on the board in the first quarter, then connected with Malachai Hicks with 6 minutes to play in the third on a 21-yard TD pass.
Harn's second touchdown toss gave the Rams a seemingly comfortable 21-0 cushion, but back struck the Highclimbers, relying on two big plays from Brian Nault.
Nault, who also registered two sacks, chipped in a 69-yard run and hauled in a 47-yard reception, placing Shelton in scoring position in back-to-back possessions.
Both drives ended wit Jake Henry touchdown runs with the senior scoring on runs of 3 and 21 yards to pull the Highclimbers within a touchdown with 8 1/2 minutes to play in the game.
The Rams turned to their ground game to close things, running clock and getting big gains for Thomas and Mosquera.
Thomas added a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second, giving North Thurston a 14-0 lead.
Shelton (1-6, 0-5) has lost five straight after a season-opening win over North Mason.