SPORTS by Jack Kintner
Blaine loses second consecutive over-time game
The Borderites must wonder sometimes if they aren’t sailing under a curse of some kind. For the second game in a row they’ve been edged in overtime by a team they pretty well had on the ropes, losing last Friday at home to a surprised and frustrated Burlington team 20 to 13.
The game was a great one, perhaps the best Blaine has played this year. Burlington came in with a 6-0 record and ranked third in the state, but were continually stymied by Blaine’s run offense and stellar defensive play.
At the end of a scoreless first quarter Blaine recovered a bad snap on the Burlington-Edison 9-yard line, and opened the second quarter with a Casey McCabe touchdown. A missed extra point put the score at 6-0 Blaine. The Tigers responded with a drive that stalled just outside the Blaine red zone and settled for a 32-yard goal for a 6-3 Blaine lead at halftime.
Blaine opened the third quarter at the 26 after receiving the kick and then ran one of the best possession drives of the year behind junior quarterback Jordan McCarty, who completed pressure third-down passes to senior Jacob Rogers and junior Trevor Chau coming down field and capped it with a nifty little two-yard flick to sophomore Todd Bird. The touchdown pass – Bird’s first varsity score – and Keith Sentkowski’s kick gave Blaine a 13-3 lead.
After the ensuing kick Burlington came marching down the field but a long pass play for a touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty on the Tigers, whose fans booed the call lustily. They settled for an impressive 40 yard field goal from Burlington junior Andrew Furney, his tenth three-pointer this season. Burlington fans and players alike were getting nervous at what began more and more to look like a major upset in the offing.
The Tigers are used to winning, though, and they engineered a desperate but well-executed down-field march with less than two minutes remaining to the Blaine 10 yard line. Cole Sager, who as a linebacker had been in McCarty’s face all night, sacking him three times, ran a flat pattern out of the backfield and scored with a little under two minutes to go to pull the Tigers within one, 13-12. Burlington’s fans, who were quietly hoping for a miracle, erupted. One rather pickled Tiger football dad pacing the sidelines with a dour and defeated expression broke into a screaming dance as if electrocuted, and he ran out into the west end zone before being corralled by an ever-vigilant Scott Ellis who turned him in to police.
When the Tigers lined up for the extra point Blaine’s D-line penetrated far enough to rattle the kicker into shanking the kick, and he missed badly to the left. Blaine still led by one and now the other half of the crowd, the home-town side, was going nuts at the prospect of 3-3 Blaine knocking off one of the better teams in the league with victory just a minute away.
But there was a flag. Blaine senior line backer Miguel Alvarez was called for roughing the kicker. Furney would later claim that it made him miss the kick, but it didn’t matter in the end as the penalty gave him a second chance that he executed perfectly to tie the score.
Neither team scored in the first overtime exchange but in the second Burlington ran it in from the three and then intercepted McCarty to end the game.
Blaine matched Burlington in most departments, and Blaine’s defense played exceptionally well all night. The offense lost no fumbles and the entire team was penalized only five times for 25 yards (as opposed to nine times for 70 yards for Burlington).
Casey McCabe once again did yeoman duty at running back, playing most of the fourth quarter with a badly sprained and taped ankle, and led all rushers with 123 yards on 32 attempts. McCarty passed 6 for 17 attempts for 57 yards and only one overtime interception.
With the loss, Blaine drops to 3-4 overall on the season, 2-4 in conference, and fifth place in their eight-team AA division which still qualifies for post-season play. Blaine athletic director Wayne Vezzetti described the emerging and somewhat complex post-season picture. The top four teams in the league (right now that’s Burlington, Lynden, Squalicum and Bellingham) automatically get into the post-season tournament. As the fifth-place team Blaine would play the Cascade league’s fourth-place team here in Blaine on Tuesday night November 4 at 7 p.m. Cedarcrest, Kings and Granite Falls are currently knotted in a three-way tie for third in that league but that will settle out in the last two season games.
Blaine could theoretically end up in fourth place given the right combination of wins and losses from other schools. If we finish fifth and win the play-in game here at home on November 4, that would mean a re-match with Burlington as the Northwest Conference AA champs on Saturday night, November 8, something that would delight our boys to no end.
For the week of October 13
10/16 Mount Vernon 4, Blaine nil
10/21 Nooksack ___, Blaine ___
10/16 Mount Vernon 3, Blaine 0
10/18 Volleyball Invitational at Baker: Blaine goes 2-4 for second place in silver division
10/21 Nooksack 5 Blaine 0
10/17 Burlington 20, Blaine 13, 2 OT