Newport Knights run over Wildcats

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Taking on four of the best teams in KingCo in the first four weeks of the season has been one of the biggest challenges the Mount Si varsity football team has ever had to deal with. But with each game comes improvement, both offensively and defensively.

Despite the improvement Mount Si lost its fourth straight game last week, falling to the Newport Knights 35-13.

Offensively, the running of Brandon Sales, Curtis Dorr and Tyler Griffin balanced the receiving of Logan Ratcliffe, Tyler Austin and Brandon Dollinter. The first test of the Wildcats' defense came quickly in the game. With fourth down and a half-yard to go on the Wildcat 16-yard line, it looked as though the Knights would score quickly.

But a strong defensive stand by the Wildcats' line stopped the first Newport drive, giving Mount Si the ball deep in its own territory.

The Wildcats' first two possessions went three-and-out, both ending in punts to the Knights. On Newport's second possession of the game, Jeff Miller picked his way through the line for a touchdown. With the extra point, the score was 7-0 in favor of the Knights with 6:19 left in the first quarter.

After a Dorr kickoff return, the Wildcats put an impressive string of plays together, beginning with a Dollinter reception followed by runs from Griffin and Sales to get a first down.

But three plays later, Mount Si handed the ball over to Newport on downs at the Knights' own 49-yard line. On the ensuing Knights possession, the skill of the Wildcats' defensive backs took control.

Ratcliffe, holding off a Newport receiver, stepped up to snag an interception from Newport's Matt McGaffey and returned it to the Wildcats' 45-yard line. As the seconds ticked down to end the first quarter, Mount Si again faced a fourth-and-long situation, forcing the punt.

Newport wouldn't waste any time scoring again, though, as Jake Woelke wove his way up the middle, completely untouched, for touchdown No. 2. With the extra point, the score was 14-0 with 11:49 remaining in the second quarter.

Mount Si answered on its next possession. Tyler Austin set up the drive with a kick return to Mount Si's 30-yard line. Sales was picked for the next two carries, powering his way to the Mount Si 45. Then passes by quarterback Alex Smart moved the ball for a first down.

Another first down would come on third-and-10 after the Knights committed a facemask penalty.

The pressure was on as Mount Si, several plays later, faced a fourth-and-7 at the Newport 16-yard line. Smart faked a throw, then tucked the ball under his arm and headed for the sideline. He was finally tackled at Newport's 7-yard line - enough for the first down for Mount Si.

On the next play, after a nice fake sweep by Griffin, Smart found an open Dollinter in the end zone for the touchdown. Austin added the extra point, making the score 14-7 with seven minutes left in the second quarter.

Newport would score one more time before the half, despite tackles stopping long runs by Ben Johanson and tight pass coverage by Ratcliffe. Both teams headed to the locker room for half with the score 21-7.

Defensively, Mount Si looked like a changed team in the early minutes of the second half. On a Newport counter, the Wildcat defense closed any potential holes, and as the quarterback pitched to a running back the ball missed its mark.

Dollinter was there to pick up the ball once it bounced off the turf, then tucked the ball and headed to the end zone. Austin missed the extra point making the score 21-13 with 10:20 left in the third quarter.

The Wildcats held Newport the remainder of the third quarter but could not score themselves despite being on the Newport 39-yard line. Emerson Wetherall was a key to stuffing the Knights inside running game.

Newport did appear to score late in the third quarter on a run, but an illegal forward pass brought the ball back to midfield. Early in the fourth quarter, with Newport facing fourth down, Dollinter picked off a Matt McGaffey pass and rambled back to the Wildcats' 30-yard line.

A clipping call on Newport pushed the Mount Si offense to its own 44-yard line with 8:20 left in the game.

But from there the Mount Si offense sputtered. On fourth and several yards to go, the Wildcats attempted the first down with an option play. But it was stopped short and Newport took over on downs at the Mount Si 46.

The Knights would score twice more before the end of the game. With 5:55 remaining, Brad Barto rambled around the right side for a score; and with 3:41 left, the Knights' Brandon Lewis found the end zone, making the score 35-13.

"We are getting better," said Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune. "We still aren't closing the deal with offense but we are getting better. We took on some injuries tonight and this week that were very difficult to overcome, but we are growing up."

It has been a difficult schedule for Mount Si, and it's been difficult to withstand four losses in a row.

"There are so many things that go on within a team that our fans don't see and parents don't see," Kinnune said. "We had a good turnout tonight and I appreciate our loyal fans sticking with us. The continued support is appreciated."

When asked what made the difference in the game, Kinnune responded, "[The Knights] have been running that offense for 25 years, and we stuff something for a little bit. Then they react and we react, but they had too much speed for us to handle.

"Their coaches came across the field tonight and said the difference tonight was speed. That has been the difference in all four games, but we are fighters and I wouldn't trade my team for anybody. We are Mount Si football and we are going to come out and hit you and work hard at improving every week, and I think we have done that," Kinnune said.

Mount Si's Alex Smart went 13-for-26 passing with no interceptions and a total of 142 yards. Ratcliffe had seven catches for 82 yards and Dollinter had two touchdowns.

The Wildcats will host Interlake at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11.

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