If anyone had doubts that the momentum was shifting in the Myrtle Street Rivalry, they need look no further than the final score.
Aberdeen totalled 374 yards of offense and jumped out to a 34-0 lead en route to a 40-8 victory over Hoquiam at Olympic Stadium on Friday in the 116th iteration of the Myrtle Street Rivalry.
The victory was Aberdeen’s 70th rivalry game win and second in a row after falling to the Grizzlies in the previous six meetings.
Aberdeen (1-0 overall) proved to be too much for Hoquiam (0-1), particularly in the rushing game. The Bobcats outgained Hoquiam 247-45 on the ground, thanks in large part to an offensive line that controlled the point of attack and opened running lanes for Bobcat backs.
Much like he did in Aberdeen’s victory over Hoquiam at the end of last season, junior running back Jeremy Sawyer led the way for the Bobcats, totalling a game-best 149 rushing yards.
Sawyer broke a scoreless tie when he burst through the right side of the Grizzlies defense for a 22-yard touchdown run with 6:36 to go in the first quarter.
The Bobcats made it a 14-0 game when junior running back Trey Anderson capped a 14-play, 88-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run with 1:10 left in the first half.
Both Sawyer and Anderson credited their offensive line and the Bobcats’ senior leadership as keys to the victory.
“I’d like to thank my linemen,” Sawyer said. “They made some great holes in order for me to get those yards. Mostly (the key to the win) was bringing the energy at the beginning of the game. We had a couple of players give some great speeches that got the team fired up and led us to a win.”
“The (seniors) brought the team together,” Anderson said. “It was just a great experience.”
The Bobcats continued to push down the field in the third quarter, opening the second half with a nine-play drive that resulted in a 1-yard TD plunge by senior running back Liam Heikkila for a 20-0 lead.
After Hoquiam went three-and-out and failed to get off a punt, Aberdeen needed just one play to pad its lead. Bobcats quarterback Kale Goings dropped back and found an open Anderson streaking downfield for a 35-yard touchdown and 26-0 lead halfway through the third quarter.
Early in the fourth, Aberdeen had another quick-strike scoring drive when Goings found senior receiver Drew Lock over the middle for a 66 yard score and a 34-0 lead.
Aberdeen head coach Todd Bridge stated Aberdeen’s ability to run successfully early on opened up opportunities in the passing game.
“When you pound the ball like we were, that obviously opens up big lanes,” he said. “We were noticing that their free safety was flying up, their corners were biting hard on some of those bubble screens, and that’s what opened up the two touchdown passes to Lock.”
Hoquiam, meanwhile, struggled to find much offense after senior running back Kohltan Philamalee went down with an injury early in the game. Philamalee had 27 yards on four consecutive runs in Hoquiam’s second offensive possession, but went down with a shoulder injury and was out for the remainder of the game.
The Grizzlies struggled to find much consistency on offense as sophomore quarterback Zander Jump was constantly under duress, throwing three interceptions and being sacked six times in the game.
Hoquiam managed 78 yards of total offense on the evening.
Running back Nakota Brown — one of just three seniors on a young Hoquiam team — broke the shutout with a 1-yard TD run with 6:43 left after carrying for 17 yards on the previous play to set up first-and-goal.
Goings hit Lock on a quick pass over the middle for an 11-yard score with 3:12 left to make it a 40-8 final.
While Bridge was pleased with the result, he was already looking forward to making improvements, specifically regarding turnovers. Hoquiam and Aberdeen each had three turnovers, the majority of those coming in the final 18 minutes of play.
“Maybe there is something wrong with my personality, but I can’t look past that,” Bridge said. “It’s a great win for our program. Hats off to Hoquiam. They played hard and passionately. … We didn’t meet our goals offensively and when you are coughing the ball up, that happens.”
Hoquiam head coach Jeremy McMillan said there were some positives for his young team — namely keeping the game close and protecting the football in the first half. He gave credit to the improvement of the Aberdeen program under Bridge.
“Only having one returning starter on offense and one returning starter on defense, I thought we played really well,” he said. “We’re thankful that we have a team like Aberdeen to face. Four, five years ago we weren’t getting this kind of look from them. They’ve kind of turned it around. They’ve got some young kids coming up and they’re going to be good for a while. I wish them the best this season. They got it done.”
Aberdeen 8 6 12 14 — 40
Hoquiam 0 0 0 8 — 8
Leading Passers: Aberdeen — Goings (4-6-0, 127, 2 TD). Hoquiam — Jump (7-12-3, 33)
Leading Rushers: Aberdeen — Sawyer (13-149, TD); Anderson (11-37, TD); Jakob Bowers (6-36); Heikkila (4-14, TD); Hoquiam — Brown (14-28, TD); Philamalee (4-27)
Receiving Leaders: Aberdeen — Lock (2-77, 2 TD); Anderson (2-50, TD); Hoquiam — Brown (3-24)