OYEHUT — A trio of 100-yard rushers was Pe Ell-Willapa Valley’s antidote to a North Beach challenge.
Kaelin Jurek, Ever Gutierrez and Tyler Justice each topped the century mark on the ground as PWV downed the Hyaks, 42-24, in a Southwest Washington 2B Coastal Division football game Friday night at Lt. Jim Davis Field.
The Titans (4-0, 6-2), last year’s Central League champions, clinched no worse than a share of the division championship — although not necessarily the division’s top-seeded berth in district crossover competition. The latter will be determined next Friday when PWV hosts Raymond at Pe Ell.
Their two-year reign as league champions over, the Hyaks (2-2, 4-4) are still guaranteed a playoff berth. They can finish as high as a tie for second (and potentially gain a more favorable crossover slot) with a win at home next week against Ilwaco. Although originally announced for Thursday, that contest has been moved back to Friday at last report.
Although contained at times by a North Beach defense that was clearing focusing on him, Jurek nevertheless ripped off several long gainers. The senior standout finished with 143 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns.
The elusive Gutierrez, who didn’t receive his first carry until late in the second quarter, wound up netting 136 yards on 12 carries. Justice finished with an even 100 yards on 14 carries.
“We blocked real well,” PWV coach Josh Fluke said. “They started keying on Jurek and running Gutierrez and Justice outside worked pretty darned good.”
“We couldn’t stop their buck sweep,” North Beach coach Todd Bridge acknowledged.
North Beach had the satisfaction of being PWV’s first division foe to score a touchdown. The normally landlocked Hyaks unleashed a surprisingly effective passing attack, as quarterback Brenden Chaney threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick Day-Heyd and Carlos Robles had four receptions apiece, for 88 and 50 yards, respectively.
“We practice the heck out of throwing the ball,” Bridge said. “We’re pretty confident we can run on anybody, but to win big games we have to put the ball in the air. We’ve known that for three years.”
Chaney’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Robles, followed by the duo also hooking up on a 2-point conversion, cut PWV’s lead to 14-8 with 5:17 remaining in the first half.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, however, Jurek reeled off a 45-yard run to to the Hyak 12-yard line. Facing third-and-22 following a pair of losses, sophomore quarterback Matt Pearson found a wide-open Ryan Shepherd on a 24-yard scoring strike.
Jurek’s conversion run gave PWV a 22-8 halftime advantage.
The Titans then took command by scoring on their first two possessions of the second half. Jurek capped a five-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with the third quarter less than two minutes old.
Less than four minutes later, Jurek broke a 33-yard TD burst to make it 34-8.
After a pair of dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalties forced PWV to kick off from its 12-yard line, the Hyaks covered 30 yards in only four plays. Chaney’s 20-yard pass to Robles set up Chaney’s 4-yard scoring run.
The Titans needed only three plays to retaliate, with Justice sweeping the left side on a 19-yard TD jaunt.
Chaney’s 11-yard pass to Day-Heyd and his conversion pass to Ben Poplin in the fourth quarter closed out the scoring.
A pair of key fourth-down plays helped stake PWV to a 14-0 lead.
Throwing from punt formation, Jurek connected with Shepherd for 22 yards on fourth-and-four to set up the first touchdown, tallied by Jurek from a yard out.
One play after Pearson’s 11-yard scramble on a fourth-and-seven situation kept the drive alive, Jurek scored standing up on an 8-yard run. The holder on a presumed conversion kick, Shepherd instead ran for the conversion.
Fluke said tackling and penalties were his team’s chief shortcomings in this one. Pe Ell-Willapa Valley was socked for 87 yards in penalties.
Brad Prestegord was credited with 12 tackles and Max Smith 11 for the Titans. Shepherd intercepted a pair of passes.
Coach Bridge also cited Chaney for fine defense. Poplin and Seth Bridge were also active North Beach tacklers.