Defense seizes the day for nationally ranked Puyallup Nation Kings http://ift.tt/1t9Q58r
Two football teams with loads of post-season aspirations ran headlong into each other July 12 at Chief Leschi Stadium, and the game remained in doubt for most of the contest. The Puyallup Nation Kings scratched and clawed their way through their toughest match-up of the season thus far and pulled-out a 14-0 victory over a determined Puget Sound Outlaws club.
As the end of the regular season looms, teams in the Western Washington Football Alliance are jockeying to score the best seed into the playoffs, and while the Outlaws are nearly a lock to make the post-season, they were trying to sew-up a berth against the league-leading Kings.
The Kings entered the game (and remain) ranked fifth in the American Football News Today rankings and had strung together six straight blowout victories. It was a gut-check game for them and as usual, the Kings’ defense came through for them when their offense found their hands full with a stout and athletic Outlaw defense.
Known as “The General” to his teammates and possibly the largest and most imposing linebacker in the Puget Sound, Nick Noga broke a scoreless tie in the waning seconds of the third quarter, when teammate Vikah Lefeau punched the ball out of the hands of the Outlaws’ Naaman Springs, and Noga snatched the ball up for a 53-yard return for a touchdown. The 6-3, 285 pounder bolted untouched down the sideline for his third defensive touchdown of the season for the Kings.
Four minutes into the fourth quarter cornerback Treisaun McCurry grabbed his second interception of the game, leaping high into the air on a deep pass attempt from Outlaw quarterback Justice Waite and came down with the ball at the Kings’ 25-yard line.
Holding onto a 6-0 lead, quarterback Justin Southern directed the Kings on a 4 minute, 75-yard scoring drive which was capped by a 17-yard pass to Nico Curran in the end-zone. The acrobatic catch was not without drama as it was an incredibly close play next to the sideline and it took the referees several moments to determine what call they were going to make. Following the touchdown, Southern fired a quick pass to running back Donald McKee who just got over the goal-line for a 14-0 Kings lead with 6:56 remaining in the ballgame.
With the shift in momentum, the Puyallup defense ramped-up their pressure on Waite and limited him to just one completion the rest of the game. It should be noted that Waite was playing quarterback in just his third game and had Kings defenders chasing him all around the field. Despite being sacked eight times in the contest, Waite’s scrambling probably saved another ten.
Nick Noga ultimately sent Waite limping to the sidelines with sack number eight and with little time left in the game, the Outlaws faced fourth down and 26 yards to go. Springs came in to take over at quarterback and his long pass down field missed his target and the Kings victory was sealed.
Puyallup’s defense held Puget Sound to 25 yards on 18 rushing attempts and kept Waite off-balance and on the run throughout the game as he completed seven passes in 19 attempts for 82 yards passing and two interceptions. Defensive end Darius Dennis was a constant force in the backfield and had his hand in on four quarterback sacks.
Although they came away with the loss, the Outlaws put up an impressive display on the defensive side of the ball, limiting the potent “Showtime” Kings offense to 189 yards of total offense.
“This was a measuring stick for us,” said Puget Sound’s head coach Richard Warren. “They have been blowing everybody out and we knew our defense was there at that level. We’ve got a new quarterback in just his third game and he’s still growing. Now we’ve got two more home games coming up, so hopefully when we get that offense gelling it’s going to be a nice run in the playoffs.
“The game plan was to keep it close in the first half and see where the chips fall in the second. It was a big chess match. I know my team and they’re going to be hungrier than ever now because they want to see these guys again. We’re hoping this was the preview to a championship game.”
Quarterback Justin Southern was sacked four times but looked healthy after returning from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him for three weeks. Southern finished with five completions on 15 attempts for 71 yards with one touchdown and an interception by the Outlaws’ Cameron Bailey.
“It took a little while to get back into the groove of things,” said Southern. “Missing some games and so many practices due to injury set me back a little.”
With the win, Puyallup moves to 7-0 in the WWFA league standings, followed by the Pierce County Bengals and Renton Ravens both at 6-1. Puget Sound drops to 4-3, but looks to have a playoff spot sealed up with the Thurston County Mayhem trailing at 3-4 and the Cowlitz County Blackhawks at 2-5.
The Puget Sound Outlaws will host the Blackhawks Saturday July 19 at Lakewood’s Harry Lang Stadium at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, the Pierce County Bengals are heavily favored as they host the Washington Cavaliers at Sumner’s Sunset Stadium the same night at 6 p.m.
Puyallup hosts the struggling Northwest Cardinals July 19 at 5 p.m. The Cardinals began the season 3-0, but have since dropped three straight in their inaugural season in the WWFA. The Kings and the Bengals will square off on the final weekend of the regular season at Sunset Stadium on July 26 at 6 p.m.
“They blitzed a lot and had some fast guys,” said Southern. “Our offensive line is big and I think we need to take advantage of that more. The good thing is we can play a lot better. We didn’t play our best game of the season on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense played great. I think next week things will be a lot better.”July 16, 2014 at 11:35AM