OLYMPIA — Sterling Brown rushed for 310 yards on 43 carries and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Gig Harbor Tides in a 27-21 victory at Olympia on Friday night during the Bears’ homecoming night at Ingersoll Stadium.
Tides head coach Aaron Chantler called Brown “Beastmode” after the game, a fitting title following his career-best performance.
“He’s a stud,” Chantler said. “I told him before the game, I said, ‘Stewie, you’ve gotta lead us there tonight,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got it, coach.’ We’re going to pound him, and he knows it, and that was a heck of a game. I can’t ask anything more. He came to me after the second score and said, ‘Coach, I got you tonight.’ And I knew he would.”
Brown deflected the credit to his the offensive linemen, who opened huge holes the entire game.
“It all starts with my o-line,” Brown said. “I couldn’t do anything without them. I just take the ball, hold it tight, and run hard.”
Chantler also praised the offensive line’s effort.
“I mean, my goodness, our whole o-line was absolutely phenomenal tonight,” Chantler said. “Even when Owen (Taylor, who suffered an injury in the third quarter) went down for a little bit on the sidelines, everybody just steps in, and the o-line, I can’t even talk about how well they played tonight.”
The Tides (6-1 overall, 5-0 Narrows 4A) went up 14-0 in the first quarter when Brown and Conor Scanlan scored on touchdown runs. Gig Harbor knocked at the door again in the second quarter when Brown fumbled the ball at the Olympia 5-yard line.
The Bears capitalized with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Braden Neal, who broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.
“I had one fumble, but I thought I overcame that well,” Brown said.
Brown tallied 237 yards and a score in the first half alone, and he kept chipping away at the Bears’ defense all night.
Chantler made a quarterback change late in the third quarter, and it paid off. After the Bears had clawed back to tie the game, Davis Alexander found the end zone on a quarterback keeper late in the period to put the Tides ahead 21-14.
In the fourth, Brown found the end zone for a 27-14 lead, and the Bears couldn’t come back.
The Tides’ defense personified the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy. They gave up 21 points but stepped up in critical moments. Gig Harbor turned the Bears away twice on fourth-down opportunities deep in their own territory, including once in the final period.
Chantler, whose team finished 3-7 in his first year, took a moment to reflect on this year’s 6-1 start.
“It’s a big turnaround,” he said. “We had goals when the season started. We wanted a chance at a league championship, week nine. Well, we just got it. We’re pretty excited right now.”
The Tides will finish the regular season with back-to-back home games against Yelm on Friday, and could be a showdown for the Narrows title against the Bellarmine Lions on Nov. 1.