The 44th Fish Bowl between Gig Harbor and Peninsula was a wild, back-and-forth battle with everything you could want from a high school football game.
In the end, the Seahawks (2-1, 1-0 South Sound Conference) outlasted the Tides (2-1, 0-1) 39-30 to win their seventh straight Fish Bowl. Emotion, competition, atmosphere, drama, momentum swings — you name it, this rivalry game had it.
The game’s first score came when Peninsula tailback Connor Burton — who finished with 87 all-purpose yards — displayed his speed with a 12-yard rushing touchdown. Those were the first points scored against the Tides’ defense this season.
The Seahawks Dane Meddaugh gets behind the defense for a big gain down field. Photo by Bryce Carithers
The Tides pulled within 7-3 on a 30-yard field goal by Boone Leverett later in the first quarter, then grabbed a 10-7 lead on a Will Landram-to-Christian Parrish 10-yard touchdown pass.
Gig Harbor short-kicked, attempting to keep the ball out of the hands of returner Issac Smith. Burton snared the line-drive kick and returned the ball to the 50-yard line.
From there Smith went off tackle for 12 yards and QB Payton Knowles found Dane Meddaugh (who had 5 catches for 77 yards in the game) down the sideline. Smith did the rest, carrying defenders into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown that put Peninsula back on top, 14-10.
The next possession looked promising for the Tides after Landram found Herbert for 26 yards. But back-to-back penalties left the Tides facing a 3rd and 31 before punting.
The Seahawks capitalized when Frankie Cross hit a 31-yard field goal for a 17-10 halftime lead.
Gig Harbors Ben Stevens looks for room to run against Peninsula. Photo by Bryce Carithers
Penalties continued to bedevil the Tides in the second half. A third-down false-start penalty on their opening second-half drive contributed to a punt.
The Tides were penalized seven times for 49 yards during the game, many of those on third down or negating first-down conversions.
“We showed that we can move the ball throwing and running, we just gotta clean up the dumb penalties,” Landram said.
Peninsula promptly punished the Tides for their penalties. Knowles hit Meddaugh for 40 yards, and Smith scored from 7 yards out to put the Seahawks up 24-10. Smith finished with 93 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Landram was forced out of the game for a time following a physical hit by Peninsula. Yet he drove them to the 4-yard line — helped along by three Seahawks penalties — before leaving the game.
The Fish Bowl was a physical contest as these two lineman went to the ground while battling. Photo by Bryce Carithers
Gig Harbor backup quarterback Benji Park found senior Ben Stephens for a 4-yard touchdown putting the Tides back in it at 24-17.
Peninsula responded with a 12-yard TD run by Knowles. The point after attempt following the score ultimately decided the game.
Peninsula tailback-kicker Brady Laybourn was unavailable for his usual duties because of a high ankle sprain. He was cleared to hold for field goals, however.
On the PAT attempt, Laybourn snared a high snap that fouled the timing of the kick. The alert senior grabbed the ball and took off for the end zone, bad ankle and all. Laybourn powered through a defender and over the goal line, giving the Seahawks a 2-point conversion and a 32-17 lead.
That conversion would prove to be huge near the end of the game.
“Being unable to play this game from injury, the least I could do was give my all on that one play,” Laybourn said.
Chris Egan of KING 5 news interviews Peninsula quarterback Payton Knowles after the game. Photo by Bryce Carithrrs
Landram returned to the game and found Carson Griffin for a 42-yard gain. He then fired to Gavin Nash for a 19-yard touchdown to make the score 32-24. Nash was all over the field with 5 catches for 51 yards and a TD.
Peninsula was forced into a 4th down situation and appeared to be going for it. However, Knowles’ quick kick attempt from his quarterback position was blocked, setting up the Tides at midfield to the delight of their roaring fans.
From there Landram — who was 17-25 for 256 yards and three TDs — moved the Tides back into scoring position before finding Blaze Herbert for a darting 26-yard touchdown. The Tides were suddenly down only 32-30 with just over 2 minutes to play.
The Tides needed a 2-point conversion because of Laybourn’s hustle play. They lined up four wide and Seahawk coach Ross Filkins snapped at his team to call timeout. He huddled with his defense on what to expect on the next play.
The Tides came out and again went four wide, without a running back for protection. That situation calls for a quick pass. Landram’s found his first and second reads covered. The Seahawk defense swarmed him for a sack.
Gig Harbor still had a chance on defense when they stopped Peninsula on second and 11 at the 40 yard line. But a Gig Harbor defender was a tick late on the tackle and drew a flag for a late hit. That penalty took the Tides from a 3rd and 11 situation to an automatic first down with 15 yards added.
Two plays later, with 1:36 to go the Seahawks gashed the Tides up the middle with a 33 yard running touchdown by Landon Watson. Watson became the fourth Seahawk runner to score. That touchdown made it 39-30 Seahawks as their stable of fresh running backs proved too tough to contain.
Knowles finished 10-13 for 160 yards and a rushing touchdown.
“I’m just so proud to be a part of this team, we work hard, so many guys stepped up when we needed it,” Knowles said, “Gig Harbor balled out, they were right there … those guys fought to the very end.”
The Tides Drake Matthies catches a pass in traffic under the close cover of Seahawk cornerback, Ethan Fias. Photo by Bryce Carithers
Gig Harbor senior tailback Blaze Herbert, who had 124 all-purpose yards and the timely score in the fourth quarter, offered: “We played really hard tonight and we wanted the win really bad. It hurts a lot but that’s football.
“The season is still early and anything can happen. They fought hard tonight and I think in the end, deserved the win. But we’re a good team and the direction of this program is definitely on the rise, we will keep fighting.”
The Seahawks host North Thurston at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23. The Tides will be at Capital at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23.
Peninsula head coach Ross Filkins talks to his team after their 39-30 victory in the Fish Bowl. Photo by Bryce Carithers
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