Spartans hang on for Homecoming win

A boisterous crowd cheered the Spartans on to a 14-13 victory over Seattle Prep at Friday evening’s Homecoming game.  - JULIE BUSCH photo
A boisterous crowd cheered the Spartans on to a 14-13 victory over Seattle Prep at Friday evening’s Homecoming game.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Williams and Gilbreath lead the charge in the 14-13 thriller.

A win’s a win – especially for a Homecoming crowd hungry for a happy ending.

The Spartan faithful got just that Friday evening. Carter Williams rumbled for 143 yards and two touchdowns before succumbing to an ankle sprain, and the Bainbridge defense buckled down to blunt three Prep drives in the final minutes, preserving a 14-13 Homecoming victory at Memorial Stadium.

“We kept challenging the guys, because we were killing ourselves with penalties and turnovers,” coach Andy Grimm said. “It’s kind of a sad-happy thing. We’re happy we got the win on the scoreboard, but we’re sad because we didn’t play at the level we’re capable of.”

The defensive effort was keyed by Bryan Gilbreath, who had an expressway to Panther quarterback Steve Moran much of the evening, recording two sacks and forcing several poor throws with pressure.

Gilbreath wasn’t too impressed with his own performance, but it sure looked good from the stands.

“I was kind of slow off the ball, but they passed a lot and the tackle on my side didn’t block me,” he said. “They expected the running back to get me and most of the time he didn’t see me coming through, so I had a free shot at the quarterback.”

Gilbreath rued an offensive miscue, fumbling the ball into the end zone to negate a sure Spartan touchdown in the second quarter.

It was one of several Spartan lapses that allowed Seattle Prep to take control of the game in the second quarter. A roughing penalty against the Spartans sustained a Panther drive that led to their first touchdown and with a minute to go in the first quarter. The try for point failed after a low snap.

Moran found Panther back Jack Lamb alone coming out of the backfield for a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown and a 13-7 early in the second frame.

But Bainbridge was good when it needed to be, keyed by a solid running game. The Spartans used their usual arsenal of misdirection plays and sweeps to grind out 235 rushing yards on 46 team carries.

Williams opened the scoring with a 14-yard run midway through the first period, and ploughed through on second-and-inches late in the third to score again.

Nick Stone rolled up 42 yards on eight plays, while Gilbreath added 32 on six tries. Max Kaufman and Jake Hinton also saw backfield action. Spartan quarterback Cameron Johnson completed his only pass of the evening, a 24-yarder to Clif McKenzie.

The attack was blunted when Williams went down moments after his second touchdown, leaving the defense to carry the day through the final quarter.

But the Spartans held their ground, forcing a field goal try that petered out short and then waylaid Prep on several late drives. Defensive back Fiore Alailima broke up several pass attempts, while Dan Peck made an outstanding solo tackle in the open field to keep the Panthers at bay in the waning moments.

Despite the win, Grimm was cautionary going into this Friday’s road contest against perennial powerhouse O’Dea.

The Spartans must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“Anytime you can win a close one, that can help build confidence,” Grimm said. “What we took out of it as a coaching staff and try to get across to the kids is that execution-wise, if we execute at this level on Friday, it’s not going to be 14-13. It’s going to be 40-0.”

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