Peninsula’s quest for its first perfect regular season since 1985 will have to wait.
Coming into Thursday night’s game against Timberline with a perfect 8-0 record, the Seahawks struggled to find any offensive footing and were overwhelmed by the hosts, 7-3.
Timberline (7-2 overall, 6-1 SSC 3A) locked up the Class 3A South Sound Conference title with the win, while Peninsula (8-1, 6-1) will settle for the No. 2 seed in the West Central District III play-in game.
Timberline held Peninsula to 135 total yards. By half, the Seahawks had managed only 30 net yards of total offense. Peninsula’s bruising running game was held in check by a veteran, physical Blazers defensive line. Senior running back Kenny Easton was held to seven yards on six carries, while senior Blake Cantu was held to 51 yards on five carries.
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“Timberline’s defense — those guys did a heck of a job,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said. “We knew this would be a battle coming in and it was everything we expected. It was a playoff experience for our kids. Fortunately for us, we’re not done. This will make us better. We’ll take the medicine and improve for next week.”
Penalties also plagued the Seahawks. On several drives, penalties forced the Seahawks to start drives first-and-15 or first-and-20. Through the air, the Seahawks weren’t able to do much. Junior quarterback Burke Griffin finished 4 of 10 for 32 yards. Senior quarterback Ryder Johnson, who came in late in the game in an effort to shake things up, finished 1 of 5 for 11 yards passing.
Peninsula’s defense appeared poised for a shut out in the first half. But with under a minute to play, Timberline quarterback Jacob Henning found wideout Tariq Romain near the corner of the end zone for a score on fourth-and-12.
Peninsula eventually answered in the third quarter with a Danny Jackson 35-yard field goal to make the score 7-3, but Timberline’s touchdown proved enough to seal the win.
On its final drive of the game in the fourth quarter, Peninsula marched the ball down the field and eventually to the Timberline 3-yard line. But on four downs, Peninsula was unable to get into the end zone.
“I just told the guys, ‘We’ve got (four) plays, we’ve got to keep them out,’” said Timberline coach Mike Spears. “We just ran our goal-line defense.”
Timberline pushed Deboreae McClain backward three yards on first down. On second down, a pack of defenders stuffed Braeden Potter after a 2-yard gain. Ryder Johnson threw incomplete under pressure on third down.
Filkins said he tried to set up a run-pass option for Johnson on fourth down, but that didn’t work either.
Johnson took the snap, rolled to his right and fired a shot into the end zone, but Tyrin Edmond raced across the field to break it up.
Despite the loss, Filkins was pleased with the way his defense played.
“The defense played out of their mind,” he said. “I’m really proud of the kids and for how they played in this game.”
While the Seahawks fell short of winning the league title, Filkins said he’s already looking ahead to the next game.
“It’s just one game,” he said. “I’m proud of our kids. I love every one of them. This is going to make us better and we’re moving on. We’ve got a new season starting (now) and we’ll improve from it.”
Peninsula will host Bethel, Lakes or Stadium in the first round of the playoffs next week as the league’s No. 2 seed.
Olympian preps reporter Lauren Smith contributed to this story.