BELLINGHAM - You know it's not just infatuation when the love is unconditional.
As the Bellingham football team lined up for postgame handshakes with Granite Falls on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Civic Stadium, the Red Raiders' student section chanted, "Your fans love you."
Truth be told, there hasn't been a whole lot to love from Bellingham during a frustrating 2012 season, and that was true to the season's bitter end during a 54-14 loss to Granite Falls, which was spurred by four touchdowns from Tanner Peep.
"We took a major step back tonight," Bellingham first-year coach Steve Wilson said. "I'm not sure I can say anything positive about what I saw."
The Red Raiders (1-9) entered the night hoping to pick up their second win of the year to help build on during the offseason, but those hopes were dashed by a Tigers squad that seemed angry that it was even asked to show up for the non-playoff crossover.
Bellingham actually jumped on top, when Justin Pruett hooked up with Kyle Redmond behind the Tigers secondary for 62-yard touchdown on the Red Raiders' opening possession.
But Peep's 86-yard kickoff return set up Kyle Everett's 4-yard touchdown run, and the start of a string of 27 straight points scored by Granite Falls.
Peep added a 5-yard scoring run of his own, before returning an interception 69 yards in the second quarter to make it 20-7. Mathew Hamilton then wove his way sideline to sideline on a 76-yard touchdown run.
"They came to play tonight, and we just didn't respond," Wilson said.
Bellingham's only other highlight of the night was an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Darice Haywood, but four more Granite Falls touchdowns started the running clock midway through the third quarter.
Peep finished with four touchdowns, as he recorded his second pick-6, this one from 97 yards out, in the third quarter and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass on a little trickery right before the half. Hamilton led all backs with 105 yards rushing.
Pruett passed for 145 yards in his final start for Bellingham, while Marques Reynolds rushed for 34 yards. Redmond finished with three catches for 81 yards, while Haywood had three for 38.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Granite Falls 13 20 21 0- 54
Bellingham 7 7 0 0- 14
Bel - Kyle Redmond 62 pass from Justin Pruett (Kaleb Smartt kick)
GF - Kyle Everett 4 run (run failed)
GF - Tanner Peep 5 run (Trae Poplin kick)
GF - Peep 69 interception return (Poplin kick)
GF - Mathew Hamilton 76 run (Poplin kick)
Bel - Darice Haywood 84 kickoff return (Smartt kick)
GF - Peep 15 pass from Brandon Leitzke (kick failed)
GF - Michael Strickland 85 pass from Leitzke (Poplin kick)
GF - Peep 97 interception return (kick failed)
GF - Everett 1 run (Leitzke run)
First downs 18 11
Rushing Att-Yards 49-280 12-64
Comp-Att-Int 3-4-1 11-27-2
Passing yards 132 145
Penalties-yards 5-56 1-5
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
RUSHING - Granite Falls: Tanner Peep 12-28, Kyle Everett 12-26, Mathew Hamilton 8-105, Brandon Leitzke 11-87, Tyson Campbell 5-34, Tom Eadie 1-0. Bellingham: Marques Reynolds 6-34, Kyle Redmond 1-1, Justin Pruett 5-29.
PASSING - Granite Falls: Brandon Leitzke 3-3-0-132, Tanner Peep 0-1-1-0. Bellingham: Justin Pruett 11-27-2-145.
RECEIVING - Granite Falls: Drew Benson 1-32, Tanner Peep 1-15, Michael Strickland 1-85. Bellingham: Kyle Redmond 3-81, Marques Reynolds 3-9, Darice Haywood 3-35, Nicholas Estrada 2-20.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.