Football heads to postseason after home loss

Published on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 by Ian Ferguson

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Was too much Halloween candy before the game a factor in the Borderite loss to Nooksack Valley? Probably not, but whatever the reason, Blaine was upset 40–26 in a come-from-behind loss at home October 31. 

The outcome of the game may have been disappointing for Blaine football, but luckily for the Borderites it didn’t affect their postseason standings. Conversely, the win may have been a great way to end the season for the Pioneers, but it didn’t get them into playoffs. 

Outside factors determined the postseason fates of both teams. Mount Baker beat Meridian, securing Blaine a Northwest Conference (NWC) 1A number two seed and an automatic bid to the Tri-District tournament. Meanwhile, Lynden Christian beat Friday Harbor, crushing Nooksack Valley’s playoff hopes.

The game was a tale of two halves for the Borderites. Blaine built a 19–6 lead in the first half, only to fall behind in the 
second. Nooksack Valley cut away at the lead with a touchdown just before halftime, and then proceeded to reverse scoring roles with Blaine, putting up 21 points and shutting out Blaine in the third quarter. Both teams scored once in the fourth, and the Pioneers secured the upset. Nooksack Valley owned a 2–6 overall record heading into the game, while Blaine was 4–4.

“For whatever reason, we didn’t come out of the locker room in the second half,” said head coach Jay Dodd. “Nooksack Valley came out really strong, did a great job of executing basic plays and we didn’t defend very well.”

Senior Borderite Cole Muder ran for 161 yards on 34 carries for Blaine, and scored two touchdowns. He broke the ice with a one-yard touchdown run nine minutes into the game. On Blaine’s next possession, junior wide receiver Josiah Westbrook broke free of coverage on the sideline, and sophomore quarterback Marcus Potts hit him for a 43-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the first quarter. Potts went on to pass for 155 yards in the game, with Westbrook catching five passes for 112 yards.

Tanner Myhre scored Nooksack Valley’s first touchdown on a five-yard run three minutes before the half. Blaine senior running back Brian Ferrer answered with a 51-yard touchdown run. The play was a fullback trap, a “quick-hitting play that keeps the defense honest in the middle,” Dodd said. “Brian is very quick, and he outran a very good secondary to get the touchdown.” Ferrer rushed for 63 yards on four carries in the game. Dalton Biehle next scored for the Pioneers on a three-yard run, making it 19–12 at the half.

“Before Nooksack Valley’s first score in the third quarter, we were playing good football,” Dodd said. “We were controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and I think going into halftime we were very confident. When we came back out onto the field, we weren’t hungry – we weren’t playing with urgency and they were.”

In the third quarter, Blaine couldn’t find an answer for Nooksack Valley’s passing game. Pioneer quarterback Tanner Myhre lit up the field, scoring on three long passing plays spread throughout the quarter. Myhre would end the night with 337 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 20 of 30 pass attempts.

Blaine’s offense couldn’t get going either. Blaine had a three-and-out possession that led to a Nooksack Valley touchdown, then a fumble that led to another Pioneer touchdown.

“We really struggled in all phases of the game in the second half,” Dodd said.

In the fourth, Myhre hit receiver Connor Beard for an 82-yard touchdown. Muder scored the final touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run with two minutes left to play, for a final score of 40–26.

Since it didn’t affect playoff standings, the loss was, at best, a harmless lesson for the Borderites.

“Considering the loss to Mount Baker, that’s two games in a row where the other team stepped up their play in the second half, and we didn’t,” Dodd said, referring to the Mount Baker game October 25. “We need to figure out how to come out and play four quarters. It’s coming out strong in the first quarter, playing well in the first half, but then coming out even stronger in the second half.”

Blaine superintendent Ron Spanjer watched the Halloween game, which was also senior night.

“It was a tough loss, but thankfully it doesn’t affect playoff standings,” Spanjer said. “We don’t have to play the half-game playoff like we did last year.”

In 2012, Meridian knocked Blaine out of the District 1 mini-playoff in the final minutes of the two-quarter game. With the Mount Baker win over Meridian this year, Blaine advances directly to the Tri-District tournament.

The Borderites will host the Port Townsend Redskins at Civic Field in Bellingham on Friday, November 8. The Redskins have an overall season record of 4–2, with a very strong running game and three different looks on defense. Quarterback Jacob King has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in seven games this season.

“We’ve been looking at a lot of film,” Dodd said. “Their quarterback is a strong runner and they have two other strong runners as well. We’ll have our hands full defending against their run.”

On the other side of the ball, the Borderites are forming a game plan to contend with three different types of defense the Redskins have run throughout the season. 

“We want to be ready for whichever defense they show us,” Dodd said.

Kickoff of the November 8 game at Civic Field in Bellingham is set for 7 p.m., and the gates open at 5:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $7 for adults and students without an Associated Student Body (ASB) card and $5 for senior citizens, elementary students and students with an ASB card.