Jacob Holcomb’s first game as Puyallup High School’s starting quarterback had some shakey moments, but ended brilliantly Friday night at Curtis High School.
His older and since-graduated brother, Nathaniel, last year’s record-setting QB for Puyallup, would have been proud.
Jacob threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns, completing 17 of his 25 passes and ran for a touchdown to lead Puyallup to a 33-24 SPSL 4A victory over Curtis.
Holcomb was 8-for-14 for 117 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but near perfect in the second half, completing nine of 11 passes for 171 yards and another score.
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“First start having played behind his brother and all the success that he had, I think there is always jitters and pressures that he puts on himself and other people put on him,” Puyallup head coach Gary Jeffers said. “I just thought that he carried us through the clutch time. He’s going to continue to grow and he’s going fabulous quarterback and we’re excited for that.”
The game was marred with mistakes and turnovers, especially in the first half. The first turnover happened on the first offensive play of the game for Curtis. A fumble was scooped up by Puyallup senior defensive lineman Eddie McNaughton, giving Puyallup a short field to work with to claim the game’s first touchdown.
Holcomb quickly took advantage, finding junior wide receiver Darius Morrison for a 21-yard touchdown. After a missed extra point, Puyallup led 6-0 less than a minute into the game.
Morrison was Holcomb’s favorite target all night, finishing with eight catches for 151 yards.
“We’ve played together since third grade, so we’ve always had a great connection,” Holcomb said. “Our chemistry is fantastic and we’re like best friends, so I think that helps us on the field too, because we know we can trust each other.”
Puyallup’s lead didn’t last long. Curtis answered with a six-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ethan Gilbert to senior wide receiver Taj Moffett.
Senior running back Izaiah Fields added a 5-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to give Curtis a 14-6 lead.
Puyallup responded with a 13-play, 82-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by Holcomb. Puyallup trailed 14-13 after the score, which was the way the first quarter would end.
Fields, who rushed for 57 yards on eight carries, was forced to leave the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury in the second quarter and momentum shifted from there. Puyallup regained the lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by junior Kyle Cramer with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter.
Holcomb took care of the rest in the second half. He completed his first five passes in the third quarter.
“It was an ugly first game all the way around trying to get all the bugs and jitters out,” Jeffers said. “Our kids battled. We’d been talking about that all offseason and in the preseason to just kind of battle through. They never quit and I’m so proud of them.”
With Puyallup driving midway through the fourth quarter and holding a 26-17 lead, it looked as though they would finally put Curtis away, but in one of the few mistakes Holcomb made all night, his fumble on a first down from the Curtis 10-yard line was picked up by Curtis senior TJ Banks who returned the ball 75 yards for a touchdown, cutting Puyallup’s lead to 26-24.
“All of my teammates said to flush it, and I think that really helped me,” Holcomb said. “I’m just so proud of us. I think we played great. It was awesome.”
Puyallup responded with a touchdown drive to go up by nine points. Curtis drove the field and had a chance to cut the lead again, but McNaughton’s second fumble recovery of the night iced it for Puyallup.