Even before they took the field, the Borderites and their head coach, Jay Dodd, knew what they needed to correct from the previous week’s loss to have a chance to beat two-time 2A state football champion Lynden.
They had to eliminate turnovers, not give up big plays on defense and keep the game close throughout. Blaine could do none of those things.
After battling toe-to-toe with the champs for a quarter, Blaine watched Lynden score 35 unanswered points to race to a 42-21 Northwest conference (NWC) victory Friday, September 17 at Rollie De Koster Field.
Blaine gave up four turnovers that were cashed in for three touchdowns. Lynden sophomore quarterback Josh Kraght manufactured four plays of over 20 yards. The 21-point third quarter outburst assured that the game would not be close.
Nine minutes into the game, it looked like Blaine had finally found a way to break the run of bad fortuned against the Lions in recent years. The Borderites took the opening drive 38 yards before tailback Mario Gobboto fumbled. The defense picked up Gobboto though, forcing a Lynden fumble on the ensuing play. With quarterback Sean Allen leading them, Blaine methodically moved downfield capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to full back Tyler Chau. With 5:44 left in the first quarter, Blaine had dominated the game, held a 16 plays to 1 ball control advantage along with a 7-0 lead.
Lynden retaliated with a 62-yard drive that took only 2:24, with tailback Joey Garcia barging in from four yards out to tie it.
Blaine went three and out on its next possession but got the ball back two plays later when Andrew Miller intercepted Kraght deep in Blaine territory. Momentum swung hard to the Borderites as Allen connected for 12 yards to Todd Bird and an additional 15 yards were added for a Lynden personal foul as the quarter ended.
The spark was snuffed on the first play of the second quarter as Gobboto fumbled again in Blaine territory. Kraght made Blaine pay, taking the next snap on a QB draw play for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Blaine seemed on their way back again, down 14-7, after getting a 37-yard kickoff return from Bird. However, the Borderites promptly turned the ball over when Allen threw his first interception.“It was stupid,” Allen said, “it was just a bad ball.”
Blaine survived the error when Lynden missed the first of two field goal attempts and then mounted another drive, venturing all the way to the Lion’s 24-yard line. Three consecutive incompletions turned the ball over on downs and Lynden quickly marched 76 yards before scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kraght to Zach Vis with 19 seconds remaining in the first half to extend their lead 21-7.
A recovery of Blaine’s opening onside kickoff, a fumble by Allen after catching his own pass a la Fran Tarkington in Super Bowl VIII and a long interception return all led to third quarter touchdowns that put the game out of reach, though Blaine did rally for 14 points on touchdowns by Gobboto and Andrew Price.
Though Blaine outgained Lynden offensively 355 yards to 280, Blaine seemed to struggle at the point of attack against the Lynden lines, with Allen frequently seeing pressure up the middle and Gobboto unable to shake loose.
“They did a lot of shifting on us,” Allen said, “(and) made us change our reads.”
Allen finished the game 20 of 33 for 245 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gobboto ran for 64 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Chau added 30 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
The Borderites paid a more physical toll as well. At games end, Allen (back and shoulder), Miller (arm), and Channing Crews (leg) were all hobbled with injuries, though Allen’s appears to be minor.
The loss dropped Blaine to 1-2 (0-2 in NWC). The Borderites return home to host 3A Ferndale, a 56-55 overtime winner over Arlington.
This will only be the second visit by the Golden Eagles to Blaine in 20 years and the emotions will be high following Blaine’s stunning win in Ferndale last year.
The expectation is for an overflow crowd as there was here two years ago.
Advance ticket sales will be sold through Friday till 3:30 p.m. at the high school office, when sales will be cut off. Gates will open no earlier than 5:30.