Gateway: Sports

Peninsula football hangs on for wild win against Stadium, 41-38

Seahawks wide receiver Jace Keim (2) picks up a first down early in the first quarter of the Peninsula High School Seahawks vs Stadium High School Tigers football game Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Stadium Bowl in Tacoma.
Seahawks wide receiver Jace Keim (2) picks up a first down early in the first quarter of the Peninsula High School Seahawks vs Stadium High School Tigers football game Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Stadium Bowl in Tacoma. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

The players, coaches and fans at Friday night’s game between Peninsula and Stadium at Stadium Bowl might need to take a breath after that one.

The trek up Stadium Bowl’s iconic stairs after the game’s crazy, three-hour run time might be a valid enough excuse to stop for a breather.

But if that wasn’t enough, the dizzying action on the field should have done the trick.

The visiting Peninsula Seahawks won a wild affair in Tacoma over the Tigers, 41-38. It looked like a compelling matchup on paper, but at half, it hadn’t quite lived up to the billing.

Peninsula stormed into halftime with a 28-6 lead, capitalizing on three Stadium turnovers and making the Tigers pay.

The first turnover was on a Peninsula punt that bounced off a Stadium player’s helmet.

“That was a big play, and then we turn the ball over inside of our red zone and that’s a big deal,” Stadium coach Thomas Ford said. “Anytime you play a team like Peninsula, you have to play as mistake free as you can and we didn’t do that tonight.”

But the Tigers looked like a completely different team in the second half, scoring at will and at one point making it a two-point game at 34-32.

Senior quarterback Hunter Wendling threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns, all to star junior receiver Mason Xavier, who racked up 173 yards receiving on the night.

“Xavier Mason really showed everyone in the South Sound what he’s all about,” Ford said. “I think he’s one of the top — if not the top — receivers in the area. He showed it tonight.”

Stadium junior running back Nazje Briscoe rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

But the Seahawks didn’t falter when Stadium went on its run. After Peninsula quarterback Burke Griffin threw a costly interception, he bounced back with a huge fourth quarter that included a 49-yard touchdown pass to receiver Alex Beloate.

“This season, I knew I would be taking shots and sometimes (interceptions) happen,” Griffin said. “It’s all about having a short memories. If it’s a good play, bad play, whatever — we flush it and move on.”

It’s a different level of poise and maturity this season for Griffin, who offset his lone interception by completed 14 of his 22 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s so mature this year,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said of his signal-caller. “He knew he immediately made a mistake but he got over and he didn’t make the tackle, but he slowed the guy up and allowed us to make the tackle. Absolutely, he went right back to work and corrected it and put some great drives at the end of the game.”

Peninsula knew it would be in for a dogfight in the second half.

“With that great quarterback and some great athletes, we knew we had our hands full and it was a huge challenge for us,” Filkins said. “We’re very happy to come out with a win and we’re proud of our kids for playing from start to finish.”

Peninsula sealed the win late in the fourth quarter with junior Braeden Potter’s interception. Potter also poured in three touchdowns as a running back for the Seahawks, bringing a toughness and edge that Peninsula was missing in its week-one loss to Mt. Spokane.

“Last week, we came out and didn’t feel right. It felt like we didn’t give 100 percent,” Potter said. “As a team, we could’ve done better. Coming into this week, I was pretty ramped up and ready to get a (win), fight some people, go out and show some energy and knock some heads.”

The game’s officiating was strange — and that might be a generous word to describe what transpired. The officiating crew took quite a bit of time making several calls throughout the game, contributing to the three-hour run time. The game finished just after 10 p.m. The teams also had to deal with the scoreboard malfunctioning in the first half. At one point, the officials had to keep the official time on the field, contributing to the overall confusion of everything.

But the most puzzling officiating decision came in the fourth quarter, when an official awarded Stadium a fourth timeout for the half. Filkins was understandably upset, and informed the officiating crew that the Seahawks were playing the remainder of the game under official protest.

In the end, it didn’t matter much, and regardless, it was out of the control of any of the coaches or players.

“Officiating is just part of the game,” Potter said. “It’s going to happen no matter where you’re playing. It happens in the Super Bowl. You just have to play with it and deal with it.”

Peninsula moves to 1-1 on the season, while Stadium fell to 1-1.

“This is a game I’ll always remember,” Griffin said. “This is one of the best places to play high school football in the nation. It’ll definitely be one we remember.”

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