As the seconds trickled off the clock late in the third quarter, it appeared the Newport Knights had all the momentum against the Garfield Bulldogs football team.
With Garfield ahead 30-17, Newport defensive back Ray Choi picked off Garfield quarterback Max Nall’s pass at Newport’s 35-yard line. Choi sprinted down the right sideline for an electrifying 65-yard interception return for a touchdown, cutting Garfield’s lead to 30-24 with six seconds left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Knights, it was the final time they scored in the contest.
The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns and a field goal in the final 12 minutes of action, cruising to a 53-24 win against the Knights in the non-league opener for both teams on Sept. 1 at Newport High School in Factoria. Garfield junior Tre’Shaun Harrison hauled in a 32-yard touchdown catch from Nall and also scored on a 11-yard touchdown run. Bulldogs’ running back Ramari Hampton had three rushing touchdowns in the victory. Harrison and Hampton proved to be difficult for Newport defenders to bring down as each player broke a multitude of tackles throughout the game. Harrison said the Bulldogs weren’t fazed when Newport cut the lead to six points at the end of the third quarter.
“We just kept our heads in the game. We didn’t get our heads down. We knew it was going to be close,” Harrison said. “We were just playing as a team. That is how we got the win.”
Harrison credited the Bulldogs offensive line for paving the way for their ballcarriers.
“We were just running behind the (offensive) line. The line did an awesome job tonight. We just executed,” he said.
The Knights had leads at three separate junctures of the game in the first half. Newport scored 10 points off of two Garfield turnovers in the first quarter. Choi (65-yard interception return for a touchdown) and Wes Oswald picked off Nall in the game. Oswald had a 58-yard interception return to Garfield’s 7-yard line in the first quarter.
The Knights will look to redeem themselves against the Stanwood Spartans on Sept. 9 at Newport High School School in Factoria.
“We’re just going to use today’s loss and just build from it. We never want to feel like this again,” Newport quarterback Brandon Steinberg said of the loss to Garfield.
The Knights faced Stanwood at their summer team camp at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
“They’re a pretty physical team. We tied with them at camp. We’re looking for some revenge,” Steinberg said.
Newport head coach Drew Oliver said his team needs to improve on the fundamentals of the game.
“We got to be able to finish drives. There were a couple of times where were down there (in Garfield territory) and we fumbled the ball away or shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties. Defensively we have to tackle way better. Our tackling was really poor tonight,” Oliver said. “It is fundamental stuff, we got to keep grinding and keep working on it for sure.”
Oliver said is looking forward to the matchup against Stanwood next week.
“We’re excited to have another shot at it and get back after it. We knew when we saw them at camp we would see them again in Week 2,” he said. “They are great kids, they played hard and we played hard at camp and hopefully we will do it again next Friday (Sept. 9).”