Scoring was at a premium in the 40th edition of the annual Fish Bowl rivalry game between Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools. Explosive plays, however, were in good supply.
On Peninsula’s first offensive play of the game, senior quarterback Burke Griffin connected with senior running back Braeden Potter for a 97-yard touchdown pass. Turns out, that wasn’t the only 90-plus yard play Griffin would be involved in during his final Fish Bowl at Roy Anderson Field.
In the fourth quarter, with the game still up for grabs, Griffin scampered 93 yards for a touchdown, icing the game and sealing the 21-10 win for the Seahawks.
“That was all on the coaches,” Griffin said of his long touchdown run. “They saw where they were going to stunt and dialed up a good play for us. All the credit goes to my offensive line and my two running backs, they made great blocks on that and sprung me free.”
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The win is Peninsula’s third in a row in the series. Gig Harbor (3-5 overall, 2-4 South Sound 3A) came into the game needing a win to stay alive in the playoff picture, while Peninsula (6-2, 5-1) is still in the hunt for the league title.
Despite the disparity in records, Peninsula coach Ross Filkins knew the Seahawks would have their hands full with their crosstown rivals.
“This was exactly the game we anticipated,” Filkins said. “Gig Harbor is a very, very good football team and we knew they were down to it and we were going to get their best shot.”
Gig Harbor even lead at half, 10-7, after senior quarterback Ben Hollenbeck put the Tides on the board with a 10-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter and kicker Logan Kinney showed why he’s one of the league’s top kickers, knocking in a 46-yard yard field goal just before the break.
Gig Harbor running back Sean Skladany put the Seahawks back ahead in the fourth quarter with a five-yard touchdown. While Griffin, Potter and a couple others handle the primary running duties for the Seahawks, Skladany hasn’t seen many touches in big moments this year.
But the 6-foot-1, 219-pounder made the most of his carry, shedding tackles and extending the ball over the goal line for the score.
“I wanted it bad,” Skladany said. “It was my first carry in a goal-line situation, where I had a chance to score. I’m not really supposed to get the ball. I’m supposed to be the lead blocker. I really wanted that one, to get the dub for my boys.”
But Gig Harbor appeared in prime position to play spoiler and pull off the upset, marching deep into Peninsula territory with about five minutes remaining in the game. But then the Tides fumbled the ball and Peninsula recovered, leading to Griffin’s 93-yard game sealing score.
“(The fumble) hurt a lot,” said Gig Harbor coach George Fairhart. “We were moving the ball really well. We were behind. We were kind of worried about scoring too soon. They got it. It bounced around there for a while, I thought we had a chance to get it back.”
Peninsula suffered its first league loss of the season last week on the road at Yelm, 42-21, in which the Seahawks were outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter. This week? The Seahawks owned the fourth quarter.
“Let’s just say our practice this week was intense,” Potter said. “Very high tempo, very aggressive. The music was cranked up all the way, just for the crowd noise. It was a good week of practice.”
For Peninsula, execution in the fourth quarter is a constant point of emphasis from Filkins and his staff.
“The fourth quarter is huge for us every week and last week, we knew that fourth quarter wasn’t us,” Griffin said. “We let that fourth quarter get away and we felt like we always finish in the fourth quarter and we didn’t do that last week. So we were extra determined today to make sure we finished the game the right way.”
With the loss, Gig Harbor is officially eliminated from playoff contention.
“It’s tough,” Hollenbeck said. “It’s football. You see teams all over the place, coming into the season, they’re all excited and hyped up. I just thought we were going to be taking that next step, maybe running for the league. But I guess we just didn’t have it in us this year. We battled every game and just came up short, unfortunately.”
Peninsula, meanwhile, is still contending for the league title.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and we’ll control what we can control, do what we can next Friday night and we’ll go from there,” Griffin said.