LYNDEN - The Lynden football team runs the play every Thursday in practice.
"We all laugh, because we think we're never going to get to run it, and even if we do, it's not going to work," senior receiver Zach Vis said.
Ah, but it only has to work once to be a success, and it did just that for Lynden on the final play of the first half of its annual rivalry showdown with Ferndale.
Vis out-jumped a horde of green and white shirts in the back of the end zone and hung on to a 37-yard heave from Josh Kraght to put the Lions up by two touchdowns at the half and give them the momentum they needed to pull away for a 49-14 victory over the Golden Eagles on Friday, Oct. 19.
"First off, I have to give credit to our offensive line," Vis said. "They had to hold their blocks for a long time so that we could run 40 yards, and they gave Josh the time he needed all night. It was a huge play for us. It gave us a huge boost going into halftime."
Lynden (7-1, 6-0 NWC 2A/3A) has gotten the better of their biggest rival four straight years by a combined score of 142-42, and this time it, plus Squalicum's loss to Burlington-Edison earlier in the night, helped the Lions lock up the top NWC 2A's top seed into the Northwest District Playoffs in two weeks and at least a share of the NWC 2A/3A championship.
Ferndale (7-1, 5-1), meanwhile, saw its hopes of winning the conference crown end and its chances of getting a top seed into the 3A crossover playoffs take a hit.
"It's a big win," senior Luke Christianson said. "It's big anytime you beat the Eagles."
Christianson played a giant role in that victory, as he rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 14 yards and another TD and left midway through the fourth quarter to calls of "LUUUUUUKE" from the home stands.
"That's pretty neat," Christianson said. "It pumps me up, and it pumps my teammates up."
Christianson did a good job of giving his teammates a boost throughout the night, as his shifty, start-and-stop runs and bursts of speed through the center of the line and around the end repeatedly ate up big chunks of yardage.
"He's a heck of a football player," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "He'll be the first to tell you that our offensive line had a big part in what he did, as all our skill position players will tell you. But some of it was all Luke."
His biggest run of the night was actually a 67-yard kickoff that saw him cut all the way across the field and streak up the sideline to the Ferndale 18. The return came right after Ferndale had tied the game 14-14 on Alex Conley's second touchdown run with 3:44 remaining in the half.
Three plays after Christianson's return, Josh Kraght scored on a 12-yard delayed keeper, fighting his way through a tackle at the 1, to give Lynden a 21-14 lead with 2:10 left in the half.
After the Lynden defense forced a quick three-and-out, two Kraght completions got the Lions to the Ferndale 37, but the drive seemed to stall with two straight incompletions.
But on a fourth-and-1 play with 6 seconds remaining before halftime, Kraght drifted to his right, wound up and heaved a pass toward the end zone. Vis, showing off his basketball skills, found some space and seemed to out jump everyone else by at least half a foot, made a finger-tip catch and pulled the ball into his body as he went to the ground, sending Lynden to the locker room with the cheers still echoing around Rollie DeKoster Field.
"We talk a lot about flushing plays like that, and I thought our guys did a pretty good job of that," Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich said. "You can't focus on things like that that go against you. But Lynden came out hot in the second half."
They certainly did, as Dak Shagren's 7-yard touchdown pass from Kraght, who finished with 108 yards and three touchdowns passing and 55 yards and a TD on the ground, made it 35-14 with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Christianson then caught a 9-yard score over the middle 3:20 into the fourth to put Ferndale in a four-touchdown hole, before Trent Postma slammed the door shut with 46-yard scoring run.
Conley finished with 94 yards rushing and Ferndale's two touchdowns, but the Lynden defense did a good job of containing the rest of the Golden Eagles' stable of backs.
"I thought our guys played really hard, but we just made too many mistakes," Plenkovich said. "We had the snap that went over our punter's head (that set up Lynden's first touchdown in the first quarter), we gave up the Hail Mary, we turned the ball over a couple of times, you can't do that against a good team like this and expect to win."
Lynden will wrap up the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 25, against Squalicum at Civic Stadium, while Ferndale will be at Anacortes the same night.
"I think this was a game that was much closer that the score would indicate," Kramme said. "That is a good team over there that is going to cause a lot of problems for whoever they play. I think our guys came ready to play tonight, and that was great to see."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Ferndale 7 7 0 0- 14
Lynden 7 21 7 14- 49
Lyn - Luke Christianson 10 run (Alex Otano-Guenther kick)
Fern - Alex Conley 13 run (Wyatt Dunn kick)
Lyn - Christianson 6 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
Fern - Conley 21 run (Dunn kick)
Lyn - Josh Kraght 12 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Zach Vis 37 pass from Kraght (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Dak Shagren 7 pass from Kraght (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Christianson 9 pass from Kraght (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Trent Postma 46 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
First downs 10 19
Rushing Att-Yards 46-154 39-240
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-1 10-19-1
Passing yards 12 116
Penalties-yards 3-15 1-10
Fumbles-lost 6-2 0-0
RUSHING - Ferndale: Hank Hilts 14-54, Richmond Baardson 10-27, Alex Conley 14-94, Wyatt Dunn 1-(-30), Cooper Clark 4-12, Daniel Ewald 2-1, Joey Akers 1-(-4). Lynden: Josh Kraght 13-55, Luke Christianson 22-145, Cameron Wainwright 2-(-6), Trent Postma 1-46, Alex Otano-Guenther 1-0.
PASSING - Ferndale: Cooper Clark 2-4-1-12. Lynden: Josh Kraght 10-19-1-116.
RECEIVING - Ferndale: Alex Conley 1-13, Richmond Baardson 1-(-1). Lynden: Jalani Phelps 1-10, Dak Shagren 2-20, Luke Christianson 3-14, Zach Vis 4-72.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.