ELMA — Hoquiam made Elma’s homecoming one to forget on Friday. The Grizzlies scored on each of their four possessions in the first half and added another touchdown on an interception return to begin what would be a 46-7 rout in an Evergreen 1A League tilt at Davis Field.
The rain and a sloppy field did little to stop the Hoquiam offense. Hoquiam’s (2-0, 4-2) first four offensive drives amassed just 11 plays with each ending in a touchdown.
On the other side of the field, things were a completely different story. The Eagles (0-1, 1-5) struggled to move the ball all night. Elma failed to gain a positive yard not due to a penalty in its first 11 plays and finished the first half with a negative nine yards offense.
“We got to work right away,” Hoquiam coach Rick Moore said. “We did a good job preparing for the wing-T, but the kids have to go out and play the game. I thought we were a little flat and quiet to come out, but we flipped the switch when the whistle sounded and we got to work.”
“There are always bright spots, you just have to find them on the film here and there,” Elma coach Ron Clark said. “Hoquiam is a very good team, probably a top five team in the state. We have more football in us. It was a tough night, but the kids will get better.”
After forcing a 3-and-out from Elma, Hoquiam got great field position to start its first drive from a 25-yard punt return by Ryan Espedal. Starting on the Eagles’ 20-yard line, Hoquiam needed just three runs from Artimus Johnson to put the ball in the end zone. Johnson bounced a run to the right to sprint in from six yards out to put Hoquiam up for good.
The game was brought to a halt for around 15 minutes after the Eagles second possession when Elma’s Dion John was injured on the punt return. John was taken from the field via ambulance and an official update on his condition was unavailable.
Hoquiam took two plays to find the end zone again. This time, it was Gregory Dick hitting Jack Adams III with a 31-yard pass for the score. Dick passed to Payton Quintanilla for the 2-point conversion to give the Grizzlies a 14-0 lead with 7:36 to go in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies started their next drive in their own territory for the first time on the night, but it took just five plays to score again. After catching a screen pass from Dick, Johnson sprinted up the right sideline, cut back to miss two defenders around the 20-yard line and ran in for a 43-yard touchdown pass.
It was the Grizzlies’ special teams and defense that helped to add the next two scores for Hoquiam. A punt by Elma was blocked by the Grizzlies and sailed into the hands of Hoquiam lineman Matt Brown, who toted the ball down to the Elma 7-yard line to set up a touchdown run by Jerod Steen on the next play.
Hoquiam’s Anthony Nash jumped in front of a pass from Elma’s Avery Brown three plays later and returned it 23 yards to the house as time expired on the first quarter to give Hoquiam a 32-0 lead.
Johnson would add the exclamation point to the evening with just under eight minutes to go in the first half. After a punt from Elma’s Tyson Richardson had pinned the Grizzlies at their own 4-yard line, Dick completed a screen pass to Johnson. The senior running back took the ball and followed his blocking 96 yards for the score.
“I got the ball and I saw Anthony (Nash) and I knew he was going to block for me,” Johnson said. “I also got another great block by Ryan Espedal down field and I just took it to the house. It was just a great feeling. If it wasn’t for my blocking it wouldn’t have happened.”
Hoquiam capped its scoring for the night on a 4-yard run by Jerod Steen with about three minutes left in the half to ensure a running clock for the second half.
Elma was finally able to gain some momentum offensively and earned the first Eagle first down of the game with under three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Eagles forced a turnover on downs early in the first quarter and put together a 3-play scoring drive for its only touchdown. Taitum Brumfield was able to shake loose for a 12 yard touchdown run with just under seven minutes left in the game.
Brumfield added 25 yards on the night, while Ira Hartford was held to 26 of the Eagles 72 yards of offense.
Johnson finished with 68 yards rushing on 11 carries and 139 yards on just two receptions.
Moore cited Chewy Muro, Payton Quintanilla, Garrett Bradley, Jordan Sears and Matt Brown for their work defensively.
Hoquiam hosts Montesano next week, while Elma travels to Tenino.