The Peninsula High School Seahawks beat the Gig Harbor Tides 35-28 Sept. 17 at Roy Anderson Field in a stunning come-from-behind win for their sixth consecutive Fish Bowl victory. Peninsula took the lead in the 22-21 tally since the first crosstown rivalry game was played in 1979.
The teams met in an empty stadium last season because of COVID-19 restrictions, but this year Fish Bowl was back in all its noisy, gaudy glory. Half-dressed teenagers sporting extravagant body paint shivered in their school colors and Mardi Gras beads, making a capacity crowd of 5,000 mostly masked fans swarming the stands and sidelines despite the pandemic, heavy rain, and a power outage that left them in the dark near the end of a historic game.
The Seahawks came to Fish Bowl 43 ranked fourth in the 3A South Sound league (38th in the state) with a 1-1 record. Returning quarterback and senior Jake Bice led the team to a 5-1 record during last year’s shortened, blended league season with 4A teams that began with a Fish Bowl victory in February.
Gig Harbor came in behind Peninsula, ranked fifth in the SSL (73rd in the state) but returning without last year’s QB, Payton Knowles, now a Peninsula junior and Seahawk receiver and cornerback.
Both teams had wins the week before; the Tides with an impressive passing game against Bonney Lake (39-19) and Seahawks burying Mt. Rainier 41-0.
The Tides scored the first touchdown four minutes in when Gig Harbor junior and QB Will Landram connected with receiver Colin Montgomery, followed by a successful kick for the extra point.
Bice faced a tough Tides defense from the beginning, keeping the ball on the ground for short gains before attempting a direct-snap fake punt that went nowhere. Gig Harbor ran relentlessly, sometimes gaining just a foot at a time, for their second TD after a half-yard handoff to running back Blaze Herbert, followed by an extra point.
The Seahawks could not make progress against the defense and punted, and the Tides took over on their 20-yard line. Landram was unable to connect on a few passes but slowly advanced the ball until setting up wide receiver Hudson Cedarland for a handoff and 16-yard run for a third touchdown and extra point for the Tides.
After they got the ball back, the Seahawks were forced to punt a third time.
The Tides started at Peninsula’s 21-yard line. Landram hit Cedarland with a short pass that he turned into a 78-yard run for a fourth TD followed by another extra point. Score at halftime: 28-0.
In the Seahawk locker room, the QB reminded his players about the Falcons vs. Patriots Superbowl game in 2017. “I said, let’s make our own story, and let’s go out and win this.”
“We need to be more physical defensively, we need to make more tackles and, offensively, I need a little more time,” Bice said.
When the second half started, it was a different game.
A heavy rain was falling but Bice mixed handoffs with throws, making one first down after another until hitting wide receiver Knowles, the former Tides QB, who pulled a bomb down with a one-handed catch deep in the red zone. Running back Josh Hinkel ran for the first Peninsula TD from the 2, followed by the extra point.
“After going down and scoring that first drive, we were all hyped up,” Bice said. “This is where it starts, everyone just keep playing your game, we got a long way to go still. I was just doing my best on the sidelines to get everyone hyped up, the crowd loud, because I knew they were struggling with that and that pressure of actually coming back.”
But the Seahawk defense held back the Tides and Bice led the offense slowly pushing downfield. He handed off to running back senior Ethan Hogan to carry 1 yard for their second TD and an extra point. Score at the end of the third quarter: 28-14.
Three plays later, Landram threw an interception to Alden Lester on the 29-yard line, giving the Seahawks the ball. Bice fumbled the next snap, and the Tides recovered. Cedarland ran it down to the 11 on the next play. Then Landram threw a second interception, this one caught by defensive back Ethan Fias, who ran 86 yards to score the Seahawks’ third TD, followed by another field goal. Score: 28-21.
The rainstorm caused a blackout with 5:59 left in the game. After a delay of about 20 minutes, generators got lights back on the field, and Bice handed off to Hogan for his second TD of the night. After the extra point, the score was 28-28.
Hogan ran the ball home yet again in overtime making the score 35-28 with an extra point. On the next possession, the Tides were looking at their fourth down on the Seahawks’ 22, when lineman Caleb Novak sacked Landram and ended the game.
“Once we got that first touchdown, I knew we could definitely do it,” Hogan said. “We all put our minds together and played our hearts out.”
“It was like the first year I played in the Fish Bowl. The crowd just gave me that confidence and power,” he said.
The Seahawks also won the annual food bowl, a contest between Peninsula and Gig Harbor High schools to donate goods to FISH food bank. PHS won with 22,625 items over GH’s 12,956. For more information, go to www.ghpfish.org.
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