No wonder it took almost 55 minutes to play the first quarter. Ferndale and South Fork combined for 337 yards of offense and 48 points in the opening quarter of an explosive game that featured 14 touchdowns, as the Wildcats defeated the Cubs 69-28 last Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Ferndale (5-0 in league, 8-1 overall) captured its 14th consecutive Little 4 league championship. “Offensively we were very good, and South Fork did a good job moving the ball themselves,” said Ferndale head coach Kim Jorgensen.
Five different Wildcats scored in the wild first quarter, when the home team built a 34-14 lead.
The Wildcats scored on their first nine possessions in the contest, and generated 490 yards (348 rushing, 142 passing) of total offense.
By the time the game ended, four different players - starting quarterback Kyle Chambers, lineman Chris Catana, running back Justin Lang, and backup QB Jacoby Hughes - had thrown TD passes. Three of them ended up in the hands of wide receiver Dakota Ward; the other strike went to Wyatt Standley.
On the ground, Lang and Zach Rocha - who raced for 155 yards on eight carries, and 104 yards on nine carries, respectively - each scored two rushing TDs, while Chambers added another.
Even when things did not go as planned, the Cats benefited, as evidenced by two botched snaps on point after attempts which ended up with Chambers (holder) and Catana (kicker) passing to Hughes for a pair of successful two-point conversions.
”A lot of guys came through for us in this game,” said Jorgensen.
It took a while for South Fork to get it going.
Ferndale defensive end Hunter Van Emmerik sacked South Fork’s superb quarterback Joey Wittlake on the Cubs’ first play from scrimmage, and Standley added a pick-six as the Red and White bolted ahead 27-0 with 5:43 left in the opening period.
”For a time the only team stopping us was ourselves,” said South Fork head coach Andy Olsen. “Once we gave up 27 points, we woke up.”
Wittlake kept his composure, connecting with Troy Langley and brother Keith Wittlake on a pair of first-quarter TD passes. Langley’s was a sensational 47-yard catch-and-run featuring two open-field jukes on three defenders that would have made Gale Sayers or Barry Sanders proud.
Wittlake finished with 12 of 30 for 179 yards and three touchdown passes, and also ran for 40 yards. Two of his three interceptions went off his receivers into the hands of Lang and Hughes.
Langley finished with six receptions for 95 yards and Sean Stock contributed five catches for 94 yards.
The Cubs’ running game - not usually the Blue and Gold’s strong suit - helped out Wittlake, picking up 172 yards.
Nate Miller rushed for 47 yards on five carries in the opening half, and Dylan Phelps-Harding carried the rock eight times for 81 yards after intermission.
In a game displaying offensive fireworks, defense took the back seat. Ferndale’s best all-around defensive effort came from Catana, who made multiple sure tackles - several for losses - and also swatted down a pass attempt and kept pressure on Wittlake.
For South Fork, Phelps-Harding raced to make a touchdown-saving tackle on Rocha’s 53-yard run down to the five-yard line, and later delivered a clean hard hit on a Cats receiver.
Ferndale ends the regular season on the road next Saturday at St. Bernard’s (3-2 in league, 6-3 overall), while South Fork plays at Hoopa Valley (0-5, 2-7) on Friday night.
Neil Tarpey can be reached evenings at 707-441-0579 or email@example.com.
1. PHOTO BY RICH BICKEL/THE TIMES-STANDARD
South Fork’s Keith Wittlake (11) races past two Ferndale defenders in the first half last Saturday.
2. PHOTO BY RAY ASPURIA/THE TIMES-STANDARD
South Fork wideout Troy Langley jukes a Ferndale defender en route to a 47-yard touchdown reception.