BELLEVUE - After the clock on the Bellevue Memorial Stadium scoreboard landed on zero and players exchanged handshakes, Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich huddled his Golden Eagles together and immediately stated how proud he was of his team.
A four-touchdown loss is usually nothing to brag about but, against ESPN's No. 2-ranked high school team in the county, Ferndale left Bellevue with nothing to hang its head about.
"I'm so dang proud of how we came out and played," Plenkovich said. "We held them to the fewest points they've scored all year. Physically, they had our kids outmatched, but we just kept on playing and playing."
The Golden Eagles put together an impressive defensive performance but, like most teams this year, their offense couldn't get much of anything going against Bellevue, which touts a handful of Division I prospects.
An inspired performance wasn't enough to preserve Ferndale's season though, as the Golden Eagles lost to Bellevue 28-0 in an opening-round Class 3A State Playoff game on a chilly Friday, Nov. 9, in Bellevue.
Ferndale's play earned the respect of Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff.
"They played us probably better than anyone has for the most part," Goncharoff said. "We have a great history with their program. We knew they weren't going to be scared. They have tough kids that weren't going to be intimidated."
Plenkovich preached all week: limit turnovers and prevent short-field situations.
Two costly fumbles inside its own 35-yard line early in the first quarter were two turnovers Ferndale couldn't afford against Bellevue's high-powered offense.
After back-to-back Ferndale (9-2) three-and-outs and a 15-yard touchdown run by Bellevue's Myles Jack that gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead, Golden Eagles' quarterback Cooper Clark, who finished with one completion for eight yards, fumbled a snap and Bellevue recovered at Ferndale's 23.
Two plays later, Bellevue quarterback Jack Meggs hooked up with wide receiver Scott Whiting for an 18-yard TD strike.
Ferndale fumbled on its next possession, but its defense forced Bellevue into a 40-yard missed field goal attempt.
The Golden Eagles defense kept Ferndale in the game, forcing four Bellevue punts during the contest. Plenkovich's defensive 11 also prevented Bellevue from a single first down in the third quarter.
"Outstanding, our defense was outstanding," Plenkovich said. "It doesn't take much to look at the bodies on the field and see the difference. Our kids flat out competed. They have nothing to hang their heads about."
While the defense held Bellevue's offense in check for the most part, Ferndale's power rushing attack did little against the Wolverines.
Alex Conley, who entered Friday's match up averaging 130.3 yards a game, finished with 28 yards on 16 carries. Hank Hilts led Ferndale's ground game with 31 yards. Richmond Baardson ran for 10 yards on eight rushes.
"(Bellevue) hasn't given up many points all year," Plenkovich said. "Their defense is phenomenal. Obviously, their defense is something very, very special. We knew it would be a struggle to get anything going consistently on them."
It was. Ferndale moved the chains for the first time with 4:50 left in the second quarter.
Jack added his second score - this time a 10-yard run up the middle - with 5:43 left in the second quarter to give Bellevue a 21-0 advantage.
Arguably Ferndale's strongest drive of the game occurred right before halftime. Clark navigated his offense 30 yards to the Bellevue 47 but, after a sack, which Bellevue had five of, Ferndale was forced to punt.
Neither offense was able to put much together in the third quarter. Ferndale's Joey Akers recovered a fumble on a punt return after a Golden Eagles' player made smart play, stripping the Bellevue return man midway though the third quarter.
Even the Wolverines' lone turnover couldn't ignite Ferndale's offense, which took over on its own 34 following the fumble recovery.
Ferndale managed only 52 total yards of offense through four quarters, but the Golden Eagles lost 29 yards on the five sacks Clark suffered.
Bellevue's Max Richmond scored from 4 yards out with 8:49 left in the game to put the Wolverines up 28-0.
Ferndale's defense only gave up 227 yards of total offense to the No. 1-ranked Class 3A team in the state.
"They didn't get much easy on us tonight," Plenkovich said. "They weren't ripping off big plays like they have all year."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Ferndale 0 0 0 0- 0
Bellevue 14 7 0 7- 28
Bel - Myles Jack 15 run (Ryan Bordner kick)
Bel - Scott Whiting 18 pass from Jack Meggs (Bordner kick)
Bel - Jack 10 run (Bordner kick)
Bel - Max Richmond 4 run (Alexander Kruse kick))
First downs 7 13
Rushing Att-Yards 45-44 26-134
Comp-Att-Int 1-2-1 7-16-0
Passing yards 8 93
Penalties-yards 4-50 4-45
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-1
RUSHING - Ferndale: Alex Conley 16-28, Hank Hilts 10-31, Richmond Baardson 8-10, Daniel Ewald 2-4, Cooper Clark 9-(-29). Bellevue: Myles Jack 5-43, John Nguyen 7-53, Jack Meggs 8-25, Max Richmond 3-9, Mustafa Branch 3-4.
PASSING - Ferndale: Cooper Clark 1-2-1-8. Bellevue: Jack Meggs 7-15-0-93, Timmy Haehl 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING - Ferndale: Cameron Massey 1-8. Bellevue: Nathan Derider 2-24, Scott Whiting 3-50, Myles Jack 2-19.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.