Photo by Larry Bale - Titan Kaelin Jurek (44) runs hard in the first quarter, as he has all season long. Jurek, a student at Pe Ell HS, led Pe Ell-Willapa Valley with 56 yard rushing and 2 touchdowns against Napavine.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley could not replicate a comeback victory as it had accomplished during the regular season against Napavine after falling behind in Saturday's State semifinal playoff game at the Tacoma Dome. On this day the Tigers steadfastly held their ground versus the undefeated and top-ranked Titans, while prevailing in a bone-crunching slug-fest, 29-13.
Napavine checkmated Pe Ell-Willapa Valley's vaunted running by reducing the Titans to a season-low 121 yards - and only 3.1 yards per rush. Kaelin Jurek led the Titans with 56 yards rushing on 13 attempts and 2 touchdowns. Trevor Cook was held to 40 yards on 12 carries (3.3 ypc), and Seth Flemetis netted 37 yds on a dozen rushes (3.1 ypc).
After the Pe Ell-Willapa Valley jumped out to a 7-0 lead that was set up by an interception by Jason Fluke, the Tigers thumped the Titans with three straight touchdowns to take an insurmountable 22-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Titans scored on their first possession following the Fluke pick by driving 50 yards in 9 plays climaxed by a 5-yard run by Jurek.
The Tigers immediately responded with a solid drive but it died at the Titans' 11-yard line.
Following a Titan punt, Napavine set up shop at the Titans' 26 that was aided by a penalty on the return. Three plays later the Orange & Black scored on a 2-yard run by Stanley. The game was knotted at 7-7 with 9:51 left in the first half. Four possessions later, NHS set up shop at midfield and executed efficiently with a 5-play drive. Stanley completed a 7-yard pass to Chase Vanwyck on a down and out pattern. The Tigers surprised the Titans on the conversion attempt by snapping the ball directly to punt Austin Filley who passed the pigskin to Vanwyck for two points giving Napavine a 15-7 edge with 2:13 left in the first half.
At intermission Napavine had gained 133 yards compared to only 62 yards (all on the ground) for Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in a very grinding affair.
Napavine took the second half kickoff and ended up starting at its own 35-yard-line after a nice return by Cole Vanwyck. The Tigers methodically drove 65 yds in 12 plays. On 3rd-and-5 at the 14, Stanley completed a slant pass to Mac Fagerness. The kick by Filley was through the uprights for a 22-7 advantage with 7:01 to go in the third quarter.
Jurek made a good run on the kickoff giving the Titans the ball on the NHS 48. Pe Ell-Willapa Valley implemented a "hurry-up" offense and ran the ball six straight plays to the Napavine 8-yard line. In a key play of the game on 3rd-and-7 at the 8, Fluke rolled out and threw an interception to Jordan Purvis who ran the ball to the 24.
Three possessions later on 3rd-and-14 at the Napavine 16, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley's Aidan Arrington intercepted Stanley's pass with a athletic one-handed grab and returned it to the 4-yard-line. On 4th-and-goal at the 1/2-yard line, Jurek blew in for a TD with 10:36 left in the fourth quarter. Instead of kicking the extra point to pull within a one possession score, the Titans went for two and Jurek was stopped, leaving them nine points behind at 22-13.
Following a Napavine punt, on the sixth play of a drive, the Titans chose to try a halfback option pass on 1st-and-10 with Jurek throwing an interception that was run back for a 55-yard touchdown by Cole Vanwyck. Filley's kick made the score 29-13 with only 5:15 left in the game.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley's next drive died at the Napavine 40-yard-line. The Titans got the football back one more time, and then Fluke threw an interception that was gathered by Chase Vanwyck.
In a game that started out like a barn-burner, ended up fizzling out like a dud for all Titan fans.
Last September, the Titans defeated Napavine 28-27 on the Tigers' home turf after scoring 14 points in the last 7:48 of the game.
Tackle leaders for the Titans were Tyler Shepherd (7 solos, 1 assist), Seth Flemetis (5/6), Dustin Lusk (5/4), Fluke (4/3), and Matt Minton (¾). Fluke completed 4 of 11 passes for 32 yards.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley ends an excellent season with an overall record of 11-1 and a Central League championship.
Napavine (11-2) heads to the championship game for the second year in a row against Okanogan (12-1). The Bulldogs were 37-10 victors over Northwest Christian School (Colbert) (10-3). Last year, Napavine committed 5 turnovers during a 17-14 defeat at the hands of Okanogan.
Below is the scoring summary for Saturday's State semifinal game First Quarter P-WV: 5:49 - Kaelin Jurek, 5-yard run; Robert Espina kick.
Second Quarter NHS: 9:51- Wyatt Stanley 2-yd run; Austin Filley kick. NHS: 2:13 - Stanley 7-yd pass to Chase Vanwyck; Stanley to Vanwyck for 2-pt conversion.
Third Quarter NHS: 7:01 - Stanley, 14-yd pass to Mac Fagerness; Filley kick.
Fourth Quarter P-WV: 10:36- Jurek, 1-yd run; run failed on extra point(s) attempt. NHS: 5:15- Cole Vanwyck, 50-yd interception return; Filley kick.