Bainbridge slips past North Kitsap 13-7 in football opener

Fullback Jake Brigham shed a couple of tacklers to score from five yards out in overtime to lead Bainbridge Island to a 13-7 victory at home over rival North Kitsap Friday in the season opener for both teams.

North Kitsap had the ball first in the overtime period, but a stout Bainbridge defense pushed the Vikings back 20 yards on three tackles for a loss and an incomplete pass.

Taking over on the 25-yard line, the Spartans ran the ball on five consecutive plays with Brigham gaining 20 yards on three carries. For the game, the 220-pound Brigham ran the ball 27 times for an unofficial 122 yards.

"Our defensive line took over in the overtime, and then our fullback just ran hard just as he had the whole game," said Bainbridge coach Andy Grimm. "It wasn't pretty, but we came back for the win and that's encouraging."

The Spartans had an opportunity to win the game in regulation after junior wide receiver Alex Coplan returned a punt 59 yards to North Kitsap's 36 yard line late in the game. Led by Brigham, the Spartans advanced to  North Kitsap's 7 yard line with 12 seconds remaining, but Connor Winship's 25-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left to set up the overtime period.

North got the ball first on 25, but Conner McCorkle was tackled for a 5-yard loss on first down, followed by Joshua Fitch's breakup of quarterback AJ Milyard's pass. On the next two pass attempts, linemen Josh Molskness, Justin Totura and Logan Dieterich combined to sack Milyard for a total of 15 yards, and the Spartans took over on the 25 for their winning drive.

"I'll take the blame for that drive," said North coach Jeff Weible. "That first play was a mistake because we hadn't been running it. Then we had a pass that was overthrown. Then the sacks came."

The Vikings, who were 1-9 last year, scored on their first possession of the game when wide receiver Andrew Urquhart caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Milyard. It was set up by a screen pass from Milyard to Khody Golden for 17 yards and a first down inside Bainbridge territory.

The Spartans lost three fumbles in the first half, including one on a missed handoff on a first-down play on North Kitsap's 12 yard line. The short drive was set up when a Bainbridge's rush forced North Kitsap's punter to run with the ball at midfield.

Trailing 7-0 early in the second half, the Spartans got a break when Milyard attempted a third-down punt that he shanked.

The Spartans started from North Kitsap's 31 and used nine running plays to score from two yards out on Brigham's plunge up the middle. Winship's conversion kick tied the game at 7-7.

The Vikings' Andrew Hecker intercepted a pass from sophomore quarterback Connor Teddy early in the fourth quarter, giving the visitors a first down on the Bainbridge 49. The Vikings used a 15-yard personal foul play and a couple of runs to reach the Bainbridge 16, but Milyard fumbled the snap and Dieterich recovered it.

The Spartans moved the ball to midfield before a fourth-down run by Brigham came up a yard short of a first down with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Coplan's long punt return gave Bainbridge another shot at winning in regulation before Winship's field goal attempt failed.

Senior quarterback Chris Bell and two other players were suspended for the game, Grimm said, because of an event that happened last spring. The players will also sit out next week's game at home against Kingston.

"It was a struggle but we played better in the second half," Grimm said.

Weible said he was encouraged by his team's effort.

"It was a typical first game in that there were a lot of penalties and mistakes," he said, "and we couldn't take advantage of their turnovers. But I think the kids are beginning to believe in themselves. We're still a young team, but I'm seeing signs that they're ready to win some games."

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