BURLINGTON - Meridian's defense had no answer for Burlington-Edison's quick-strike offensive attack. The Trojans' offense didn't do itself any favors, either.
Three turnovers by Meridian during its first three possessions led to consecutive don't-blink-or-you'll-miss Burlington-Edison scores, and by the end of the first quarter, the Tigers were well on their way to handing the Trojans a season-opening loss.
In a matchup of 2012 state playoff teams, Burlington-Edison ran away with a 42-28 non-conference win Friday, Sept. 6, in Burlington, that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
"They got speed, they're well coached and they got great talent," said Meridian coach Bob Ames of the Tigers, who advanced to the state quarterfinals a year ago. "I thought our kids played really hard. We got a lot of things we can build on, and you know what? We'll get better."
Burlington-Edison starting quarterback Mason Schwetz exited the game with an injury two plays after his only throw of the game - a 30-yard touchdown to wide receiver Rudy Mataya on a seam route that put the Tigers on top 7-0 1:22 into the contest. Even with freshman backup QB Hunter Anderson in the rest of the way, it didn't matter. Meridian couldn't stop the Tigers' run game.
Burlington-Edison amassed 200 first-half rushing yards and found paydirt on scores of 54 yards from Hunter Jacobson and 61 yards from Jae Evans. Evans, who finished with 125 yards on four carries, also scored on a 52-yard run to open the half.
The Tigers (0-1, 0-0 NWC 1A) scored all four of their first-half offensive touchdowns using three plays or less. The fifth touchdown was a fumble recover in the end zone after Meridian quarterback Tanner Tutterrow took a sack deep in his own territory.
Still, Ames felt his defense was in the right positions to make tackles. They simply didn't execute.
"Every time we had a linebacker run right by them," Ames said. "They brushed shoulders every time. Linemen were really upset, but you know, we'll get our starters in there and we'll do fine."
Meanwhile, Meridian's first three offensive possessions ended with a turnover on downs, a Letrez Jones fumble and sack resulting in a Tigers touchdown. The Trojans still found themselves in the game during the marathon first quarter thanks to a snapped punt over the head of Burlington-Edison's punter. The botched play set up a Jones score from 1 yard out to cut the Tigers lead to 14-6 with 4:50 left in the first.
Jones finished with two touchdowns, running for 106 yards on 18 carries.
Tutterrow, who started his first game under center after supplanting 2012 quarterback Max McGuinn, displayed mixed results. The Meridian junior completed 22 of 41 passes for 299 yards. He also threw a pair of touchdowns but also was intercepted three times, twice in crucial spots.
Tutterrow found receiver Sam Chambers on a 6-yard fade route for a touchdown midway through the second quarter, and then connected with Jacob Plagerman for a 25-yard score late in the game.
"He's got a lot to learn," said Ames of Tutterrow. "He can't hold onto the ball, and he'll have to learn to read that outside linebacker when throwing hitches. I think the linebacker made two great plays, and those balls shouldn't have been thrown. But he'll get better."
Tutterrow seemed to play better as the game went on, and in spite of trailing 42-12 in the fourth quarter, Ames' group kept battling, scoring 16 points in the final four minutes.
"Last year we were done," Ames said. "You could have put a fork in us in the second quarter, but we fought."
Plagerman led Meridian in receiving with 113 yards on seven catches. Meridian hosts Class 2A power Lakewood next week.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Meridian 6 6 0 16- 28
Burlington-Edison 28 7 7 0- 42
BE - Rudy Mataya 30 pass from Mason Schwetz (Tanner Gates kick)
BE - Patrick Milstead fumble recovery (Gates kick)
Mer - Letrez Jones 1 run (kick fail)
BE - Hunter Jacobson 54 run (Gates kick)
BE - Blake Dimock 2 pass from Hunter Anderson (Gates kick)
Mer - Sam Chambers 6 pass from Tanner Tutterrow (pass fail)
BE - Jae Evans 61 run (Gates kick)
BE - Evans 52 run (Gates kick)
Mer - Jones 3 run (Chambers pass from Tutterrow)
Mer - Jacob Plagerman (Tutterrow run)
First downs 18 13
Rushing Att-Yards 34-112 26-243
Comp-Att-Int 22-41-3 3-5-0
Passing yards 299 45
Penalties-yards 7-48 8-50
Fumbles-lost 4-3 3-1
RUSHING - Meridian: Letrez Jones 18-106, Tanner Tutterrow 10-(-18), Cody Bachman 5-23, Adam Mydland 1-1. Burlington-Edison: Jae Evans 4-125, Eli Aguilar 4-15, Hunter Jacobson 3-100, Joe Daniels 6-5, Mason Schwetz 1-3, Damian McDougle 1-2, Hunter Anderson 2-(-6), Tanner Holmes 2-5, Robert Summers 2-(-5), Joel Blanco 1-(-1).
PASSING - Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 22-41-3-299. Burlington-Edison: Mason Schwetz 1-1-0-30, Hunter Anderson 2-4-0-15.
RECEIVING - Meridian: Jacob Plagerman 7-113, Adam Mydland 3-41, Letrez Jones 3-44, Sam Chambers 3-47, Kyle Young 2-20, Cody Bachman 1-8, Danner Linderman 1-3, Kyle Linderman 2-23. Burlington-Edison: Rudy Mataya 1-30, Blake Dimock 2-15.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.