Bouncing back from a 2014 championship game loss, and enduring troubles at the beginning of the season, the Puyallup Nation Kings finally found themselves hoisting the 2015 Western Washington Football Alliance trophy on Saturday night, Aug. 15. In front of the biggest WWFA crowd in two years, the Kings endured a slugfest with their crosstown rival Puget Sound Outlaws, coming up with big stops at just the right time to capture the crown in a 17-6 victory.
Nearly 1,000 fans filled the stands at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner and the atmosphere was everything one would expect out of a championship game. The Kings withstood everything the Outlaws were able to throw at them for four quarters and finished the game in Victory Formation, with quarterback Justin Southern taking two knees to run out the clock.
In the end, it was tPuget Sound possessions that swung the game in the Kings favor, and kept the Outlaws from evening up the score, or more.
The game started as expected, with both defenses basically hitting their counterparts square in the jaw and giving up little. Puyallup’s first possession was looking bright, as they worked the ball down to the Outlaw 35-yard line before Puget Sound hit back. Defensive tackle Dionisio Codogen sacked Southern for a seven yard loss, and followed it up with a one-yard loss while stuffing Kings’ running back Isaac Syph. Facing third-and-18, Southern dropped back to pass and was smothered by Puget Sound’s Quinn Smith. Puyallup would have to punt.
A false start and ten-yard sack put a quick stop to Puget Sound’s possession, forcing the Outlaws to punt away from their own 12-yard line. Coverage was slow on the kick and Puyallup’s Donte Green took advantage of it, sprinting all the way down the sideline to the nine-yard line before being knocked out of bounds. Now with the ball, it would take the Kings just one play to get on the scoreboard. Syph took a handoff, and burst through a big hole on the right side of the line. At the one yard line, Syph collided with an Outlaw defender and two went down. However, Syph landed on top and his knees never hit the ground. While the defenders slowed, thinking the play was over; Syph popped back up and sprung into the end-zone. Puyallup led 7-0 with 6:05 remaining in the first quarter.
Puyallup put the clamps on the Outlaws on the next possession, forcing them to punt after three snaps. The Kings would take over in the shadow of their own end-zone at the nine-yard line. Two false start penalties backed the ball up all the way to the two-yard line. Running back Donald McKee then busted off an 11-yard run to give the Kings a little room to breathe. On the next play, Southern connected with big receiver Ktron Barquet for a long bomb down the sideline and a 51-yard gain all the way down to the 35-yard line of the Outlaws. Puyallup would work the ball down to the 21-yard line, but the Outlaw defense stiffened and forced a 38-yard field goal attempt by Puyallup’s Nick Rhodes. The right-footer’s kick sneaked just inside the right upright and Puyallup now held a 10-0 lead with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Outlaws managed a first down on their next possession before being forced to punt again. It was clear that the Kings’ defense wasn’t going to be giving away much, if any, yardage to Puget Sound. The defensive line was pushing blockers back, the linebackers were swarming and the defensive backfield had the field on lockdown past 10 yards.
The Kings looked like they were bound for the scoreboard again on the next drive, as they pushed the ball down to the Outlaw 23-yard line. Following a hands to the face penalty, the Kings were backed up to the 39-yard line and needed to air it out. Southern’s pass was intercepted in the end-zone on a flying grab by Puget Sound’s Marques Wise.
Puget Sound began finding some openings in the Kings’ defense on their next possession and things were looking promising as they passed midfield. A false start, and two sacks wiped out hopes of scoring on the drive and the Outlaws were forced to punt again following their 14-play drive.
Puyallup was unable to get anything going on the ensuing possession, after Southern missed out on a 40-yard connection downfield to receiver Mychal Hutcherson. The Kings would punt the ball away with 1:01 left on the clock in the first half.
Starting at their own 31-yard line, the Outlaws managed to put together a couple of nice gains, pushing them down to the Puyallup 36-yard line. With 21 seconds left, Outlaw quarterback Leon Johnson was hounded by Puyallup defenders and tried to keep the play alive, instead of throwing the ball out of bounds. The 12-yard loss pushed the Outlaws back to the Puyallup 48-yard line. With time running out on the next play, Johnson launched the ball downfield and drew a pass interference penalty on the Kings. With four seconds left in the half, the Outlaws Nathan Koprek lined up for a 32-yard field goal. The snap and kick were clean, but Puyallup’s Anthony Cambe was able to get a few fingers on the ball and the kick fell short and the first half was in the books.
On the opening drive of the second half, Puget Sound would put together their best drive of the game. Starting at their own 24-yard line, the Outlaws worked the ball down to the Kings’ 45-yard line. Following another Puyallup pass interference at the nine-yard line, it looked like Puget Sound was going to tighten up the score. Instead, it was Puyallup’s defense that tightened up after Puget Sound pushed the ball to the four-yard line. Johnson’s fourth and goal pass into the end-zone fell incomplete and the Outlaws best offensive scoring chance of the game was turned away.
Puyallup would chew up over eight minutes on their next drive, as they put together a 14-play, 96-yard backbreaking drive. Facing fourth and goal from the three-yard line, Southern rolled to his right, with the ball high, looking like he might pass. He then tucked the ball under his arm at the three-yard line and zipped across the goal line, untouched until he had already entered the end-zone. Puyallup now led 17-0 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Outlaws were able to work the ball down to the Puyallup 38-yard line on the next possession, but a sack by Puyallup’s Demetrius Moore backed them up to the 46-yard line and forced Puget Sound to punt again. The sack was the 20th on the season for Moore.
The Kings began the next drive at their own six-yard line and were able to work it out to the 20-yard line before Southern was intercepted by Jeff Young on a deep pass down the middle that came up just a couple of yards short. Puget Sound would go nowhere on the next possession, as Puyallup’s Alex Moaalii sacked Johnson twice and the Outlaws were forced to punt again.
Puyallup began eating up more clock on their next drive and worked the ball down to the Outlaws 29-yard line at the two-minute warning. Instead of running out the clock, Puyallup would air it out just once for some insurance points, but the ball was tipped and intercepted by Thomas Mack at the 19-yard line. Mack zipped up the center of the field, before heading toward the sideline where he would follow some tremendous blocks all the way to the end-zone. The Kings lead was trimmed to 17-6 following an incompletion in the end-zone on the two-point conversion.
On the following kick-off, Koprek put a foot on a good looking onside kick, but the ball skipped out of bounds a couple of yard before travelling the required 10-yards. Two seven-yard runs by Syph and two knees by Southern ended the game and the celebration was on for the Puyallup Nation Kings faithful.
Puyallup finished the season 9-2, while the Outlaws finished out their most successful season ever at 8-3.