Sports -- October 20, 2005

Published on Thu, Oct 20, 2005
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

You win some, you lose some

Blaine almost pulled off their third miracle finish in a row but came up inches short against Lynden Christian in the closing seconds of last Friday night’s home game in a one point, 21-20 loss that to the Borderites tasted like Lynden smells in the spring.

In a game fought in the trenches between soaking wet opponents both hungry for a win, both teams fought gamely with a slippery pigskin greased by a constant downpour that never let up. Lynden fumbled and recovered twice while Blaine fumbled five times, losing the ball twice. But Lynden’s aerial output was a meager 60 yards to Blaine’s 107, impressive even in dry weather, and Blaine intercepted twice. Games played in the rain are frustrating and sometimes have more infractions because of it but Blaine was whistled only five times for 35 yards, while the Lynden Christians were caught sinning eight times for a total penance of 80 yards.

LC opened the scoring on a 20-yard run by reserve Nic Bargen, in for the suspended Mike Martin, but blew the kick. Blaine followed with a 21-yard touchdown run by Adam Dykstra and a Patrick Mulholland kick for a 7-6 lead that held up until near halftime, when LC scored again and added a two-point conversion for a 14-7 lead. LC scored again in their opening third quarter drive with a pretty play-action pass to Zach De Boer, left standing all alone in the rain-swept end zone as if waiting for a cab in New Orleans.

Once again the Borderites found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter, this time by two touchdowns, and once again the Borderites seemed to shift some internal gear and perk up. Once again Blaine’s comeback rested on late-game heroics, this time a downfield march to a second scoring run by Dykstra and later a key interception by junior defensive back Tygr Cain, who sometimes seems like he’s been shot out of a cannon. Despite the driving rain that made the ball about as easy to catch as a buttered hunk of Spam, Cain sailed through the black and clammy night and with a little less than four minutes left to play got the ball for Blaine’s last offensive push.

This is what Yogi Berra had in mind when he coined the phrase “Deja Vu all over again.” For the third time in a row the game wouldn’t be decided until the final seconds. No one can say that the Borderites haven’t been interesting this year.

The series began as familiar heroes of weeks past stepped up beside Paciorek, battle-hardened warriors like Adam Dykstra, Nick Jordan, Michael Poitras, Rob Bleecker and Blayne Brandenburger. They worked behind a line that always seems to tire out its opponents in the fourth quarter, giving Paciorek time to read and throw. A passing offense in the rain has to be perfect, and it was.

As the B’s got close to paydirt Paciorek called his own number, punching the ball closer, closer, and finally into the end zone from the one yard line, scoring Blaine’s third touchdown and cutting Lynden’s lead to one with seconds to go. Blaine had the option to either kick the extra point for the tie (easy) or go for a two-point conversion and the win (difficult).

Great teams are never so afraid to lose that they won’t take a reasonable risk to win, and to their great credit neither Blaine head coach Dave Fakkema nor anyone else in orange and black considered going for the tie to avoid the loss. Instead the coach resolutely called for the Borderites to go for the two points with a quarterback option play to the right.

Blaine lined up on the three-yard line for the two-point PAT but before the snap LC’s coach Dan Kaemingk called a time out. He said after the game that when Blaine came out after that last time out into the same formation that he knew then what Blaine was going to do, “and we were ready.”

Paciorek began around the right and then pitched to his option man Adam Dykstra, who’d already scored two of Blaine’s three touchdowns, but this time he was stopped inches from the goal line. What would have been the third miracle finish in a row drained away like the pelting rain, and a relieved and somewhat lucky LC walked off the field with a narrow 21-20 victory.

LC may indeed have been ready for this play as Kaemingk said, but that’s not what won the game. They’d been just as ready for Blaine before the game started but that hadn’t mattered for much of the first half and most of the fourth quarter, when aside from some costly mistakes Blaine outplayed them time after time despite missing two starters.
After Cain got the ball back for the offense Blaine pushed LC back up the slick wet turf primarily on Paciorek’s passing and playmaking ability, so Fakkema made the right call despite Kaemingk’s 20-20 hindsight. After all, no guts, no glory, and Paciorek and others had been going straight at LC all night with mixed results, sometimes a long gain, other times getting stopped. This time they got stopped. They played a heck of a game either way, but it’s still a loss, and lucky or not, LC still takes away another win.

Ryan Henley, Blaine’s tough, steel-bodied tight end/linebacker, was among the missing. Last week in the Homecoming game against Granite Falls his speed and skill forced his outclassed opponent to hang on to him repeatedly just to keep up, which is against the rules. Henley was given to swiping at the other guy’s hands to peel them off his body and neck, but one time it looked too much like a punch to the ref and Henley was called for a personal foul. Like a red card in soccer, he was ejected from the rest of that game and the following one too, a draconian reaction to something that had gone unnoticed much of the night. He’ll be back for Friday’s game at Nooksack.

Dykstra, Paciorek, Brandenburger, Poitras and Cain together produced 160 yards on the ground for Blaine, while Lynden ran only two backs for their 210 yard total.

Offensively the two played evenly in total yards, LC gaining 272 yards to Blaine’s 267. Despite the rain Paciorek went seven for 18 through the air for 107 passing yards to Nick Jordan (3 receptions for 37 yards), Rob Bleecker (2-45), Dykstra (1-21) and Poitras (1-4).

Blaine meets Nooksack tomorrow night out on the windswept Sumas Prairie, then returns for a final home contest the following week against Meridian before finishing the regular season on the road against Mt. Baker on a Thursday night, November 3, at 7 p.m., a half hour earlier than usual.