Bremerton comes up two yards short in football season opener

Bremerton’s Jamiere Abney breaks around the corner against Klahowya last Friday night for some of his team-high 103 yards and three touchdowns in the 28-27 loss.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Bremerton’s Jamiere Abney breaks around the corner against Klahowya last Friday night for some of his team-high 103 yards and three touchdowns in the 28-27 loss.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

SILVERDALE — Even though the final result wasn’t what the Bremerton Knights football team wanted, the effort and the resiliency shown in a 28-27 season-opening loss to Klahowya bodes well for the season ahead.

Leading most of the way, Bremerton had to come from behind with less than a minute left in the game to set up a potential game-winning two-point conversion, which was stopped at the 2-yard line.

“The kids played great,” said coach Nate Gillam. “They never gave up. The coaches lost this game. I lost the game.”

Gillam was addressing the final play, where Jamaree Wells was stopped short on a sweep right. Bremerton could also have opted to kick a point-after attempt that, if successful, would have sent the game into overtime.

“I don’t second guess the two-point choice,” Gillam said. “I don’t regret that decision for a minute. The problem was the play we ran was not the play I thought we should have called. You’ve got to get the ball into the hands of your best player.”

Gillam wanted Jamiere Abney, who carried the load, to take the final handoff. Abney led the Knights in rushing with 103 yards on 14 carries in the game, including three touchdown runs.

The miscall was understandable under the circumstances, since Bremerton had capped its last-minute drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Abney as time expired.

That came right on the heels of a serious injury to Alex Griffin on the play before. Gillam was not in the mood to make excuses, however.

“That problem will be fixed before next week,” he said.

The game started as many season openers do, with sloppy play the rule on both sides. There were three penalties on the the first three plays and Jacob Belden’s first passing attempt was intercepted by Klahowya’s Danny Zimny, killing the initial drive.

Travis Storey put the Knights on the scoreboard, breaking into the end zone with a 12-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Richard Kendrick booted the first of his three extra points to give Bremerton a 7-0 lead.

The last 5 minutes of the quarter was a scoring blitz, as Klahowya evened the score with 4:11 left to start a run of four quick touchdowns. Bremerton responded with a solid drive and a 17-yard run by Abney, giving the Knights a 14-7 lead with 1:30 remaining. Andre Moore broke loose for a 75-yard score with 39 seconds to go, but Bremerton regained the lead with 2 seconds left on the clock, with Abney again getting into the end zone. The big play on the drive was a 40-yard pass play from Belden to Griffin. The pair hooked up twice in the game for 51 yards.

The second half started with a strong defensive stand and a 22-yard punt return by Wells gave Bremerton the ball in Klahowya territory. The Knights drove to the 14-yard line before turning the ball over on a fumble. The Eagles drove right back on Bremerton, reaching the 8-yard line before Brad Coombe swatted down a pass on fourth down.

Bremerton couldn’t move the ball however, and had its second punt of the night partially blocked, giving Klahowya the ball back at the 21. Klahowya tied the game at 21 a few plays later.

“We gave them 14 points,” Gillam said, as the first blocked punt led to the Eagles first score.

Klahowya manufactured another scoring drive ending with a go-ahead touchdown with 54 seconds remaining.

Rashawn Kendrick returned the ensuing kickoff to the 42-yard line to give Bremerton a good starting point. Abney then slipped through a nice hole on the left side of the line to cruise all the way to the Eagle 17 with 33 seconds left.

“I was going, ‘Oh man. We don’t need a big play at this point,’” Klahowya coach Brad Hamblet said. “We talked about it at halftime. But give (Bremerton) credit. When they needed it, they got it.”

Griffin took the next handoff and looked to be stopped going right, but the speedster was able to reverse field and carry the ball down to the 8.

He followed that with a first-down run to the 3-yard line, but that’s when he was injured. Griffin was unable to practice during the week with severely bruised ribs, and his status is still in doubt.

“You don’t like to see those at all,” Hamblet said, as Eagle Cody Hertenstein also had to leave with a severe ankle sprain.

The Knights racked up 274 yards running, compared to Klahowya’s 297, and out-gained the Eagles 51-to-0 through the air. Following Abney’s 103 yards were Storey with 66 yards on 11 carries, Griffin with 60 on 11, Chris Martindale with 27 on seven and David Osborne with 18 on two runs. Wells had a strong return game, totaling 107 yards on two punt and three kick returns.

Garrett Torchiani led the defense, making the primary hit on six tackles and assisting on one.

Bremerton hosted Bainbridge last night after press time, and the Knights host North Mason Sept. 14. See Wednesday’s Central Kitsap Reporter for more on the Bremerton-Bainbridge game.

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