LACEY – In spite of the outcome, North Thurston football coach Rocky Patchin knows his team didn’t play its best Thursday night.
The Rams were plagued with penalties, dropped passes and, at times, sloppiness. It took their offense two quarters before getting in somewhat of a groove that eventually resulted in a 24-0 non-league victory over Black Hills at South Sound Stadium.
For a team that put up 36 points in three quarters in its 36-21 season-opening victory over Steilacoom, the Rams found their running game to be conspicuously absent for most of the first half. It wasn’t until Brandon Belisario’s 49-yard run with less than 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter that North Thurston got untracked. Belisario’s run set up Mo Manning’s 1-yard TD two plays later that gave the Rams a 10-0 halftime lead.
From there, it was all about time of possession. North Thurston (2-0) used the clock to its advantage, and although its second touchdown – a 10-yard run by Belisario – didn’t come until 11:50 to go in the game, the Rams held Black Hills to two possessions in the third.
Belisario finished with 116 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Mets completed 5 of 13 passes for 92 yards, and four of the completions went to Tru Hicks – all in the second half – for 75 yards.
“We shot ourselves in the foot several times in the first half, but we’re improving each week,” Patchin said. “Offensivley, we did some positive things in the second half.”
Despite trailing by 10 at halftime, Black Hills (1-1) was still in the game thanks to several big plays on defense. Through two quarters, the Wolves limited Belisario and Manning to nine runs of 5 yards of fewer.
But Black Hills totaled a lot of negative yards rushing, most coming on a pair of sacks and three bad snaps that went over quarterback Miles Smiley’s head.
The final one came from the Wolves’ 20, and the ball sailed into the end zone for a safety in the final minute of the third quarter to increase North Thurston’s lead to 12-0.
“It could’ve easily been 14-10 at halftime,” Black Hills coach Jack Zilla said, “and the whole nature of the second half changes.”