Hoquiam head coach Rick Moore broke out the motivational halftime speech — talking about seniors playing their final game at Olympic Stadium, talking about passion, talking about execution and talking about experience — and the Grizzlies responded.
Down 26-6 at halftime, Hoquiam scored 42 points (including four consecutive touchdowns) on a tiring Hockinson squad and survived for a scintillating, pass-heavy 48-40 non-league victory on Friday night.
“This is their home; they’re leaving the stadium with a win,” Moore said. “They responded. We talked about leaving it all out there on the field. This team didn’t quit. They could have folded their tents. They had to come up here with the long bus ride and probably thought of us at 4-3 as mediocre. All of our (tough non-league) experience paid off.”
Both teams finished with 825 yards passing, making this 3 1/2-hour contest an aerial battlefield down to the final whistle.
Hoquiam’s Gregory Dick threw for 316 yards on 25-of-45 attempts, two touchdowns and one interception and ran for 161 yards and one touchdown. Hockinson’s Canon Racanelli bombed the Grizzlies’ secondary for 509 yards on 25-of-50 attempts, four touchdowns and one interception.
When Racanelli ran in from 1-yard out on the second half’s opening drive for Hockinson (6-2), it was a make-or-break night for Hoquiam (5-3). The Grizzlies responded with four consecutive touchdowns — an 18-yard scoring strike from Dick to Jack Adams III, a 51-yard touchdown play from Dick to Adams, a 4-yard touchdown run by Matt Brown and Artimus Johnson’s 24-yard sprint into the end zone — for a 34-26 lead with 9:49 left in the contest.
Naz Mazariegos kicked two PATs, while Dick ran in a penalty-shortened 2-point run following Brown’s rumble up the middle.
Racanelli got the Hawks back to within two on their next drive, a 30-yard slant pass to Devan Riggs, who ran in untouched at 34-32. A 2-point conversion pass failed to tie the game. Both teams then knuckled down on defense to force back-to-back punts.
Johnson, who was bottled up in the first half by a nine-man-in-the-box Hawks defense, made his presence felt for good with less than 5 minutes left. On a stretch run to the left, the senior running back bounced out of three tackles, tip-toed the muddy sideline and sprinted 49 yards for the pivotal touchdown at 41-32 with 4:35 left.
Hoquiam’s defense held strong at the right time when Hockinson drove quickly to the Grizzly 5-yard line. Racanelli missed four passes in close and his scramble run netted just 1 yard, thanks to Johnson’s ankle tackle in the open field. A pass interference call inside the end zone gave the Hawks an additional fourth-down try, but the pass was batted away with 2:50 left.
On the next play, Hoquiam came out in a spread formation and Dick snuck through the line. With four Hawks chasing him, Dick ran 98 yards for a touchdown, possibly placing himself permanently into the Hoquiam record books for the longest touchdown run in school history.
Mazariegos kicked the PAT try for a 48-32 lead with 2:30 left. Hockinson got one more scoring drive, a Racanelli to Wyatt Jones touchdown pass from 14 yards out with 33 seconds remaining. The ensuing onside kick went to Hoquiam, who ran out the clock.
Johnson, who had just 30 yards rushing in the first half, finished with 132 yards rushing on 16 carries and three touchdowns.
On Friday, Hoquiam hits the road to take on Forks in a regular-season finale.