Hoquiam did enough with its limited possessions to carve a path to state.
Averaging nearly a point per scrimmage play in the first half, the Grizzlies turned back ball-control Castle Rock, 21-12, in a District IV Class 1A crossover football playoff game Friday night at Olympic Stadium.
By surviving the loser-out district contest, the Grizzlies (6-4) will hit the road for a first-round state contest next weekend. They will likely travel to Bellingham to face Meridian at a time to be determined.
Time of possession Friday decisively favored Castle Rock. Utilizing an ultra-deliberate single-wing attack (they usually did not even begin snap preparations until an official signified only five seconds were remaining on the play clock) and receiving a 115-yard rushing performance from workhorse tailback Nathan Halladay, the Rockets (3-7) controlled the ball for most of the first quarter and for all but three plays in the third period.
With their running game missing in action (they rushed for only 49 yards, 38 on Rayyon Dayton’s double reverse late in the first half), the Grizzlies relied primarily on the all-purpose talents of senior quarterback Payton Quintanilla. Using his scrambling skills to extend plays under heavy pressure, Quintanilla threw for two touchdowns and also contributed a blocked punt that set up a touchdown.
A bend-but-not-break defense led by Brady Cummings and Chewy Muro did the rest.
“Very good game plan by (Castle Rock). They’ve done that to a couple of teams,” HHS coach Jeremy McMillan said. “(Credit) the defense. They were the ones that came to play tonight. Offensively, it’s hard to get a rhythm when you don’t have the ball.”
The Grizzlies ran only 24 scrimmage plays in the first half, but still led 21-6 at intermission.
They only had four snaps in the opening 8 1/2 minutes as Castle Rock capitalized on a fumble recovery to score first on Parker Patching’s 4-yard run. Manny Miramon’s conversion attempt failed.
Hoquiam erased that deficit on its next possession. After completing passes of 19 yards to Francis Sweeney and 26 yards to Sean McAllister on third-and-10, Quintanilla hit Jackson Folkers on a 17-yard scoring strike with 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Folkers took the pass on about the 10 and broke a tackle en route to the end zone.
Naz Mazariegos’s PAT gave Hoquiam a lead it never relinquished.
Quintanilla contributed one of the game’s biggest plays midway through the second quarter when he blocked a punt deep in Castle Rock territory. Evading a strong rush, the senior quarterback then lofted a pass over the head of a defender to the 6-foot-5 Dayton, who took it the rest of the way to complete an 18-yard scoring play.
Dayton’s aforementioned 38-yard run set up Hoquiam’s final TD. Matt Brown, the 260-pound tackle who frequently shifts into the backfield, blasted into the end zone on a 3-yard plunge and Mazariegos tacked on the conversion with 50 seconds left in the first half.
Castle Rock maintained possession for more than nine minutes on a 17-play scoring drive that ended with Halladay’s 7-yard sweep at the 10:26 mark of the fourth quarter. Another missed conversion, however, left Hoquiam with a two-score lead.
When two apparent Halladay first-down runs were nullified by penalties and the Rockets were eventually forced to punt on their next possession, school was essentially out. The Grizzlies were deep in Rocket territory when time expired.
Although outrushing Hoquiam, 151-49, Castle Rock did not complete a pass all evening.