The Peninsula High School Seahawks beat the Gig Harbor Tides 39-30 at the 44th Annual Fish Bowl September 16 at Roy Anderson Field, notching their seventh consecutive win and 23rd overall since the first hometown rivalry tournament was played in 1979.
The game last year was one for the record books, when the Seahawks came back from 28-0 at the half to win 35-28 in overtime. It was the first public game after the Covid pandemic delayed the 2020-21 season for months, and the rain and darkness were no match for 5,000 teenaged fans roaring their defiance, decked out in school colors and a thousand yards of Mardi Gras beads.
But this year the weather was clear, the crowd was rowdier, and the game was a grinding slugfest between two closely matched teams led by Fish Bowl veterans: Tides QB Will Landram and Seahawk QB Payton Knowles, a former Gig Harbor QB who transferred to Peninsula as a junior and played cornerback last year.
Peninsula came to the game with a 1-1 record to Gig Harbor’s 2-0 in the 3A South Sound Conference. Some pundits gave Gig Harbor the edge after they shut out opponents in the two weeks prior, not allowing a single point.
The Tides started with a vaguely soft kick, perhaps hoping to recover the ball themselves, but the Seahawks got it to the 45. A couple of short, strong runs and a personal foul against the Tides gave the Seahawks a new set of downs, setting up two more passes and a handoff to running back Conner Burton, who ran in the first touchdown followed by the extra point two minutes into the game.
Gig Harbor returned the kick from the 1 to the 37, then fell back to the 20 when Landram was sacked on his first play. But then he shot a short screen pass to running back Blaze Herbert, who caught it with one hand and ran almost to the 50. The Seahawks defense kept up the pressure, forcing the Tides to scramble for just a few yards at a time and a 25-yard field goal. Score 7-3 Peninsula at the end of the first quarter.
The Tides proceeded to punish the Seahawks in the second quarter, pushing them back play after play and capitalizing on Seahawk penalties until the half. On third down and 28, Knowles fumbled during a sack; the ball was recovered by Tides Nic Fortney, and Gig Harbor started on Peninsula’s 43. After two carries by Herbert, they were at the 31. After a quick screen pass, Herbert brought them to the 14, and then to the 7. Three plays later, Landram wheeled out of a swarm of defenders to connect with wide receiver Christian Parrish in the endzone. With the point after touchdown, the score was 10-7 Gig Harbor.
The Seahawks rapidly pushed their way downfield all the way to the 1 on third down, then lost 10 after getting caught offsides. Isaac Smith (WR/CB) rolled like a freight train through three tackles for a 12 yard TD, followed by the PAT. After getting the ball back from Gig Harbor on downs, Seahawk senior Frankie Cross launched a 31-yard field goal with 6 seconds left in the quarter. Score 17-10 Peninsula at the half.
Gig Harbor ended up punting out of their endzone at the start of the third quarter. Knowles connected from the 50 with wide receiver Dane Meddaugh for a 44-yard completion. Smith ran it in on the next play. After the PAT, score 24-10.
Duking it out yard by yard, Landram answered with a 2-yard pass to Ben Stephens (QB/WR) for a TD followed by the PAT. Score 24-17.
After nearly throwing an interception into the endzone, Knowles ran a short quarterback keeper for the TD. The snap for the PAT went wild but Seahawk kick holder Brady Laybourn grabbed it and ran to convert for 2. Score 32-17.
Less than a minute later, following two passes and a run, Landram blasted from the 21-yard line to Gavin Nash in the endzone. Score 32-24.
After getting the ball back, and with three minutes left in the game, Landram overthrew from the 21 to Nash in the endzone, just brushing his fingertips. On the next play he connected with a quick throw to Herbert, who did his best impression of a sidewinder snake zigzagging for an incredible run to score. The Tides went for 2, but Landram was smothered by every Seahawk on the field. Score 32-30.
The Seahawks recovered the next kick on their 51. Two plays and two penalties later (including one controversial unsportsmanlike conduct on Gig Harbor that led to a flag, downgraded to a warning, to protesting Gig Harbor Coach Darrin Reeves), the Seahawks gained enough field advantage to allow Knowles to hand off to running back Landon Watson, who blew through two tackles for a 33-yard touchdown. With the PAT, final score 39-30 Peninsula.
The annual Fish Bowl, christened in 1979 by then teacher Marc Ross, was traditionally preceded by a community salmon bake. Now the community instead gorges on food trucks and tailgates, and donates food to a local charity, with the three district high schools competing to collect the most. This year’s beneficiary was Key Peninsula’s Food Backpacks 4 Kids.
According to Michelle Carter Johnson, communications director for FB4K, the 2022 Food Bowl results were: Peninsula with 20,306 items, Gig Harbor with 12,000, and Henderson Bay High School with 6,505, for a record-breaking total of 38,811.
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