BELLINGHAM - A little rust after a 15-day layoff - didn't matter.
Two first half fumbles - didn't matter.
Allowing an opposing running back to rush for 172 yards on a fly sweep play run nine times in the first half - didn't matter.
Dropping a wide-open pass play that would have gone for a touchdown - didn't matter.
Having a touchdown called back on a holding play - didn't matter.
Stopping a fourth-and-goal play from the 9, only to be called for defensive holding midway through the fourth quarter - not even that mattered.
"We don't let things like that bother us," Mount Baker senior Jake Schleimer said. "We didn't get upset and start pointing fingers at each other. We kept our heads up, and nobody got down on each other. We just picked each other up."
In doing so, Mount Baker managed to pick up its first state playoff victory in 13 years. Schleimer rushed for 216 yards and three touchdowns, and the Mountaineers defense provided an eight-play goal line stand in the fourth quarter, as the Mountaineers held off Woodland 21-14 in the first round of the Class 1A State Playoffs on Friday, Nov. 9, at Civic Stadium.
With the win, Mount Baker (9-1) moves on to the state quarterfinals and will travel to play the winner of the Meridian-La Center game, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Battle Ground District Stadium.
"This is friggin amazing," Schleimer said of Mount Baker's first playoff win since a 32-8 victory over Washougal in 1999. "The team wanted this so bad, and we worked so hard for it over the summer, to get it is unbelievable."
How they got there was rather unbelievable as well.
Mount Baker took its first lead of the game with 2:32 left in the third quarter, when Schleimer burst through the line, broke a tackle at the 20 and raced 32 yards for his third touchdown of the night.
The Mountaineers then watched as Woodland methodically moved down the field on a drive that started at its own 27 and reached the Mount Baker 7, after Eli Whitmire ripped off a 30-yard run on a fly sweep 10 plays later to set up first and goal.
On first and goal from the 7, Joey Walton got penetration and took down Beavers quarterback Hunter Huddleston in the backfield for a 6-yard loss.
"That was a huge play when Joey got them going in the wrong direction," Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said. "That kind of set the tone for us."
Whitmire then picked up 4 yards to set up third-and-goal from the 9, and Huddleston's pass was incomplete in the end zone to bring up fourth-and-goal. Mount Baker thought it held when Kaleb Brownfield knocked down Huddleston's pass, but Mount Baker was flagged for defensive holding, giving the Beavers a fresh set of downs from the 5.
But rather than getting down about the call, the Mountaineers just did like they had all night - put the adversity behind them.
"We just said next down," Andrew Zender said of the conversation in the Mount Baker defensive huddle. "We have four more downs. We can't do anything to change it."
First down netted a yard on Whitmire's sweep.
Then two straight keepers by Huddleston got Woodland to the Mount Baker 1 and brought up fourth-and-goal again.
"We said all week that their quarterback was their best player," Zender said. "We kind of figured their quarterback was going to get it down there in that situation, so I just focused on him."
Zender's focus and a little bit of penetration was all he needed to wrap up Huddleston inches shy of the goal line - and this time there were no penalties.
"That was a huge, huge stand by our guys," Lepper said. "To turn them away after that adversity, that was key."
Mount Baker took over at its own 1 with 6:26 to play.
It wasn't the first time that the Mountaineers started a drive that deep, as they ripped off a 7-play, 99-yard drive in the second quarter and tied the game on Schleimer's 39-yard run.
This drive didn't result in any points, but it produced something even more valuable - 5 minutes, 45 seconds of possession.
The Mountaineers converted four first downs on the drive, before Edgar Zavala was finally forced to punt - a kick that was downed at the Woodland 1.
The 14-play, 62-yard drive even included a fourth-and-1 play from the Mountaineers' 36. Izaiha Schwinden converted, though, with a 5-yard sweep around right end.
"A lot of people are going to say I'm nuts going for that, and they might be right, but we made it," Lepper said.
Lepper actually did the same thing in a similar situation in the fourth quarter of a 7-0 state-playoff game against Castle Rock in 1998, and the results were the same for Mount Baker.
Schwinden provided a nice complement to Schleimer, as he rushed for 102 yards on 13 carries.
But offensive workload definitely belonged to Schleimer, as he carried the ball 27 times, added a 2-yard TD run in the second quarter and had a fourth score called back on a holding call after he appeared to break it for 26 yards in the third quarter.
"We just kept running the same play, probably about 15 times tonight," Schleimer said. "We kept running it to the left, and I would get in behind Jake Oiness and Jake Larson, and they just opened up huge holes for me to run through."
Woodland was equally as effective running the same play over and over again with Whitmire repeatedly getting outside on sweeps and fly sweeps and using a wall of blockers to get to the sideline.
After a big first, half, though, Mount Baker limited him to 53 yards on 14 second-half carries.
"They kept getting us on that in the first half, but we made some halftime adjustments and tried bouncing it out a little more in the second," Schleimer said. "It really worked, because I think he only got 3 yards on those types of plays the rest of the way. We didn't get down on each other, and we didn't point fingers, we just fixed it."
And because of that attitude, Mount Baker will get a chance to move on to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Woodland 14 0 0 0- 14
Mount Baker 7 7 7 0- 21
Wood - Kyle Hendrix 21 pass from Hunter Huddleston (Dillan Beckwith kick)
MB - Jake Schleimer 2 run (Edgar Zavala kick)
Wood -Cy Whitmire 7 run (Beckwith kick)
MB - Schleimer 39 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Schleimer 32 run (Zavala kick)
First downs 17 21
Rushing Att-Yards 44-230 49-353
Comp-Att-Int 7-12-0 3-5-0
Passing yards 72 20
Penalties-yards 6-30 3-33
Fumbles-lost 4-0 2-2
RUSHING - Woodland: Eli Whitmire 25-225, Hunter Huddleston 14-(-12), Cy Whitmire 5-17. Mount Baker: Izaiha Schwinden 13-102, Jake Schleimer 28-216, Andrew Zender 6-22, Kaleb Brownfield 2-13.
PASSING - Woodland: Hunter Huddleston 7-12-0-72. Mount Baker: Andrew Zender 3-5-0-20.
RECEIVING - Woodland: Kyle Hendrix 2-42, Cy Whitmire 3-22, Eli Whitmire 1-(-1), Tannyr Knight 1-9. Mount Baker: Zan Roman 1-8, Kaleb Brownfield 1-17, Izaiha Schwinden 1-(-5).
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.