by Jack Kintner
Blaine kicker Patrick “the Automatic” Mulholland kicked a 25-yard field goal with three seconds on the clock last Friday to beat Anacortes 27-24 and put Blaine safely into post-season play.
“I knew I could get it from that distance,” Mulholland said, still smiling days later, adding that “it was a lot of fun to get the win that way when we’d come back so well in the second half.”
Blaine had trailed 17-0 late in the second quarter and seemed headed for another dismal evening but thanks to Daniel Gorze’s arm, Alex Bresnan’s hands and David Craig’s timely interception Blaine stole Anacortes’s homecoming game out from under their noses as time expired. It was a performance Brett Favre would have been proud of.
Craig is a sophomore reserve running back and safety who hasn’t seen much playing time this year as he plays behind Ben Bohnson who, along with Casey McCabe, is one of the best two running backs Blaine has produced. Craig might top 125 pounds soaking wet unless you make him empty his pockets.
He was defending against Anacortes quarterback Kyle Dixon, who passed for an impressive 273 yards for the Seahawks, his one interception a pass that Craig picked off with less than two minutes to go.
The score was tied at the time 24-all and the Seahawks were marching toward a game winning score when Craig pulled off the biggest play of his high school career. If we had a highlight reel, it would begin with this play.
After taking over Blaine tried three times for a first down with a couple of running plays and a pass that went nowhere.
Faced with a fourth-and-five and time evaporating like aftershave on an Arizona cactus, the poised and confident Gorze nailed an 18-yard pass to the fleet Bresnan on a slant pattern that netted 18 yards.
Another rushing play got the ball to the middle of the field and then Blaine called time-out with three seconds left, after which Anacortes also called a time-out. Mulholland then stepped up to the ball and booted it straight through the uprights from 25 yards out. His reliability and coolness under fire makes him a good candidate for all-league at the position.
Earlier, and for much of the whole first half, Blaine struggled with its running game to the consternation of a group of die-hard fans. Both McCabe and Bohnson left with injuries, McCabe’s painful enough to keep him out for this week’s game at home against Mt. Baker.
But out of somewhere Coach Dodd pulled an offensive capability Anacortes hadn’t anticipated, coming up with an effective passing game that netted 208 yards on Gorze’s 14 for 23 passing with no picks.
Gone are the days of the passes that take off like a wounded duck and float over the field like a beach ball in the wind. Gorze and Bresnan connected twice on touchdown passes of 21 and 25 yards and Gorze hit McCabe for a 55 yard score as well. Mulholland ended up with nine points on two field goals and three PAT’s.
With the spectacular win Blaine now controls its own destiny in which Blaine can start advancing toward the December 1 state finals by winning. If they win they keep moving on and do not need other teams to lose to do this.
Friday, October 19, they play their last home game of the year, and for many of this year’s seniors it’s the last game at a stadium they’ve known since youth football days.
They figure to trim Mt. Baker down to size – again – and then really have fun in their last game on the road against Lynden Christian on October 26. After that their first post-season contest will be against either Cedarcrest or South Whidbey.
Blaine’s lady B’s beat Bellingham 3-2 in an epic match last week that put them into post-season play while sending the winless and teary-eyed Red Raiders back to their Cornwall Avenue. campus to regroup for next year.
After the match the Borderites gathered in front of the cheering section that for the evening also included Blaine’s Best Band in the Land to sing the fight song along with the impromptu group of boy cheerleaders there for the occasion, some of them wearing volleyballs like jack-o’-lanterns on their heads.
Coach Nikki Hallberg had made one offensive switch prior to the match that paid off big time when she moved sophomore Jordan Oldham from middle hitter to outside. The competitive, muscular blonde brings thundering power to the position, giving dimension to Blaine’s potent offense that includes Vee Rooney. The two combined for 28 kills in the five game match, Rooney’s being delivered in her patented Michael Jordan hang time style that begins near the baseline and ends up almost at the net and Oldham’s more like she’s working on horseshoes at the forge, with raw forearm power.
Reliable Libby Moore finished with 38 assists, each of them delivered with the precision of a missile launch, Jessica Wallen was as solid on defense as a brick wall, making 15 deep digs with the agility of a scared rabbit.
“We knew we could beat them,” said Rooney later, “but with the scores maybe underestimated them a little. We also had Jordan [Oldham] as outside hitter for the first time, and her height and aggressive play helped a lot.”
Blaine turned some kind of corner in winning the match. They began by dropping the first game after a good start 19-25, then took the next two by identical 25-19 scores, and then dropped the fourth badly, sitting back on their heels and letting Bellingham carry the game to them and winning 16-25. But then Blaine turned it on, taking the first seven points in the 15-point winner-take-all final and emerging on top, 15-7.
“I’m really proud of the way these girls grew up tonight,” said coach Hallberg, who now takes her team into the post season. Results from Tuesday’s road contest were not available at press time.
For the week of October 12 - 18