But the fourth quarter -- and the league title -- went to Marysville Pilchuck, which scored 26 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes to complete a 47-39 come-from-behind win Friday night at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.
"We really wanted (the league title) bad and our kids showed that they wanted it bad in their play," MP coach Brandon Carson said. "They just kept believing and kept playing hard. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the way they persevered."
Oak Harbor put up 22 points on Marysville Pilchuck in the third quarter, turning a four-point deficit into a 39-21 lead by the end of the quarter. But the Tomahawks came charging back. They scored their first fourth quarter TD -- a Jake Luton 1-yard quarterback sneak -- less than a minute into the quarter and never stopped.
Marysville Pilchuck rolled up 191 of its 484 offensive yards in the fourth quarter.
"Nothing really changed, we just eliminated the mistakes," said MP running back Austin Joyner, who finished the game with 266 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. "We started playing as a team and it just worked out.
"... We came into the game knowing it was going to be a fight all the way to the end. We gave everything we had."
Joyner said he prefers close games like this to blowouts, which have been the Tomahawks' MO this season. They had been winning by an average of 36 points .
"I prefer games that fight all the way to the end," he said. "It makes you want to stay with it and give everything you've got to get a win."
Even with the Tomahawks' run, Oak Harbor had a chance to win at the end.
The Wildcats started a drive on their own 36-yard line with 1:42 remaining in the game. Quarterback Ian Kolste had two big passes for a combined 48 yards to help Oak Harbor get to the Tomahawk 6-yard line with 24 seconds remaining.
On third-and-4, Kolste rolled out looking for Fred Webster, and instead found MP's Joyner on the 2-yard line. The interception all but clinched the game for the Tomahawks.
"I saw the quarterback roll out and I saw the fullback slip out and I knew he was going to throw it to him," Joyner said. "So I jumped the route and picked it off."
"He was huge," Carson said of Joyner. "He had a fantastic game. He's been a stud for us all season."
Kacey Walker had 125 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries for MP and Luton finished with two of his five carries resulting in 1-yard touchdowns. He also completed 7 of 9 passes -- all to receiver Kyle Nobach -- for 65 yards and a touchdown.
"We went through a couple of rough patches, obviously," Carson said. "... in the third quarter we couldn't get anything going. Our kids just believe."
Oak Harbor's third quarter was almost as impressive as Marysville Pilchuck's fourth. The Wildcats recovered their own fumble after it shot out of a pile of players 7 yards downfield, and JoJo Webster took it the final 8 yards for a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown, his second TD of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, MP fumbled, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Fred Webster.
"I don't know if I've ever been part of a game like this, so many ups and downs," said Jay Turner, Oak Harbor's head coach. "So many changes in momentum. It's just fun to be a part of. I obviously wish it would have turned out the other way, but Marysville's a good team."
Fred Webster carried the ball 26 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Wildcats rushed for 239 yards, and finished with 345 yards of total offense.
Both teams play Wesco 3A South teams in crossover games next week. Turner said this game was a perfect precursor to the playoffs, and had the feel of a postseason game.
"This was a playoff game," Turner said. "That's how it was. Playoff atmosphere. I'm excited for how our kids played and Marysville played hard. It was a good Friday night of football."
Glacier Peak, a 25-7 winner over Meadowdale, will take on Marysville Pilchuck for the Wesco championship. Meadowdale travels to Oak Harbor for the game between the No. 2 seeds. Turner expressed concern that his team might have a bit of an emotional hangover after this game, but said his squad will bounce back.
"That's crossed our mind. That's the big thing we discussed when we got in the locker room," Turner said. "We have to bounce back. Our season's not over. We've got that big crossover game next week and then playoffs after that. We've got to flush this as fast as we can and get back to business next week."
At Wildcat Memorial Stadium
Marysville Pilchuck 7 14 0 26 – 47
Oak Harbor 14 3 22 0 – 39
OH—JoJo Webster 53 fumble return (Frank Grecco kick)
OH—JoJo Webster 4 pass from Ian Kolste (Grecco kick)
MP—Kyle Nobach 5 pass from Jake Luton (Ryan Spiva kick)
MP—Hunter Trueax 23 run (Spiva kick)
MP—Kacey Walker 1 run (Spiva kick)
OH—Grecco 26 FG
OH—JoJo Webster 15 fumble return (Grecco kick)
OH—Fred Webster 1 run (kick failed)
OH—Safety (ball snapped out of endzone)
OH—Sheyenne Sams 3 run (Grecco kick)
MP—Luton 1 run (Spiva kick)
MP—Walker 4 run (pass failed)
MP—Austin Joyner 28 run (run failed)
MP—Luton 1 run
Records–Marysville Pilchuck 4-0 league, 7-1 overall. Oak Harbor 3-1, 6-2.
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