Blaine 28, Ferndale 21. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Now it would be easy to see this as a David vs. Goliath kind of thing. Blaine, a smaller school, defeats 3-A Ferndale whose football dominance, especially at home, is legendary. Their 42-game regular season winning streak was the longest in the state. Since the year 2000 their over-all record is 94-14.
But what won the game for Blaine was plain hard work and thorough coaching. The result surprised everyone but the Borderites, who still carried the taste of last year’s lopsided loss (55-7) in their mouths like dried blood from a knockout punch. The simple truth is that Blaine wanted this game far more than Ferndale, knew they could win and did. Blaine athletic coordinator Steve Miller said, “Everyone did his job, and did it well, and that was the difference. It’s no secret. We’re a blue collar team that’s not afraid of hard work and getting the job done.”
To set the stage, Ferndale began the evening as it always does at home with the public address announcer yammering to the hometown fans about just how amazing this Golden Eagle team is, that they’ve not lost at home since 2004 and so on and so forth. Blaine, as you know, does not do this, nor after this game will they ever have to. Ferndale received the kick but early on the home town fans got unexpectedly nervous when Eagle Willy Scott, one of last year’s premier offensive performers, fumbled on the second play. Blaine recovered and scored first after a seven play offensive drive capped by the first of Caleb Statham’s two touchdowns to take a 7-0 early game lead. After Scott managed to hang on to another pass and tie the score at 7, Blaine senior quarterback Jordan McCarty connected with Trevor Chau for an electrifying 67-yard touchdown pass. Blaine rooters were already getting hoarse.
Ferndale ground out two more touchdowns to take a 21-13 halftime lead but would not be heard from again. Once again Blaine opened the quarter’s scoring in the third as senior David Craig made six points the hard way to tie the score again at 21 in an evening that was becoming half football game and half dogfight.
Ferndale, like Goliath, was not easy to subdue. Remember that David still had to cut off the giant’s head. Enter defensive back Tucker Morgan, who had one of those games we all dream about.
With Ferndale about 30 yards out and threatening in the third quarter, Morgan batted down one pass and intercepted another, ending Ferndale’s best drive of the period.
Blaine finally broke Ferndale’s back in the fourth quarter when the Borderite offensive line sprung senior running back Caleb Statham like a champagne cork for a 57-yard touchdown scamper.
“He just outran everyone,” said sophomore wide receiver Andrew Price, “no one could catch him.”
But with almost 8 minutes left in the game, Ferndale had enough time to wash and wax the team bus and still win easily, but for Tucker Morgan and the Blaine secondary. On their penultimate possession Ferndale scored, only to have the touchdown called back due to a substitution penalty. Two more passes were batted down, the second at the goal line, again by Morgan.
The victory was sealed with Ferndale once again knocking on Blaine’s door at the 38. With a fourth and four with 34 seconds left, the last Golden Eagle drive of the night fizzled off the outstretched fingers of Eagle receiver Jeff Frost.
This is a significant win, and belongs to head coach Jay Dodd and his staff who have trained a disciplined and hard-working bunch of boys.
Ferndale may have lost 24 seniors off last year’s team, 14 of them starters, but their program repeatedly winds up playing well into post season, having gone to the state tournament 11 out of the last 12 years, winning the championship in 2005 on the back of NFL-bound and Husky giant killer Jake Locker.
This year, things were different. Ferndale’s winning streak is now shorter than Blaine’s.
Statistically, Ferndale outdid Blaine on first downs (12 to 11), rushing yardage (175 to 133), passing yardage (187 to 151) and yards penalized, 73 to 40, including the touchdown that was called back.
The penalties, many of them for holding, tended to say that Blaine was in better physical shape than Ferndale, which though unlikely is again evidence of strong coaching.
Caleb Statham led all rushers with 115 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. The rest of Blaine’s offense came from Tusapa Laolagi (19 yards on three attempts) and David Craig (five yards on two carries, including a touchdown).
Blaine quarterback Jordan McCarty completed 12 passes in 18 attempts for 15 yards and no interceptions, a very big deal, and Trevor Chau led all receivers with 98 yards on five receptions, including a touchdown.
Others included Tusapa Laolagi (26 yards on four receptions), Al Bohnson (22 yards on two receptions), Todd Bird (five yards on one catch).
Blaine’s next opponent Friday night, September 25 at 7 p.m. is Mt. Baker, again on the road in Deming. Mt. Baker has the same 2-1 record as Blaine and with them is tied for the 2-A conference lead.