BELLINGHAM -- Meridian at last has an on-field victory and Sehome has two quarterbacks with a winning spirit.
That pretty much sums up Meridian's 41-36 Northwest Conference non-classification win in a nearly three-hour epic on Friday, Sept. 27, before a highly entertained throng at Civic Stadium.
"We'll definitely grow from this," said Sehome coach Bob Norvell. "I think our team found something in themselves they didn't know they had."
Meridian coach Bob Ames also had an apt description of Sehome's comeback from a 35-10 deficit after the Trojans (2-2) scored on their first drive of the second half.
"We hung on by our fingernails," said Ames, whose Class 1A NWC title hopeful Trojans (2-2) came off a forfeit victory over Tri-Cities Prep after tough defeats to 2A powers Burlington-Edison and Lakewood.
"I tip my cap to Sehome."
Sehome's senior quarterback, Daniel Ziegler, rushed for 122 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 71-yard sprint in the first half, but he sustained a head injury just before halftime and was held out in the half.
Aaron Nichols, a 5-foot-10 junior who has shown a fine arm as a baseball catcher, saw his first extended football playing time and completed 17 of 30 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Sehome (1-3) recovered three onside kicks -- the teams combined for an amazing seven onside attempts -- to set up 17 points.
"Aaron played a heck of a game, a dynamite game," said Norvell of Nichols, who completed eight passes to first-year senior receiver Evan Miksovsky for 110 yards and touchdowns of 6 and 23 yards. Nichols also found sophomore running back Taylor Rapp for eight completions and 120 yards, including a 6-yard score.
"He throws a nice ball," Norvell said of Nichols, who made the game especially exciting with three completions in the final 23 seconds before time expired as Nichols threw a Hail Mary.
Meridian senior running back Letrez Jones, who has come back from two knee surgeries, rushed for 148 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns, including a 45-yarder to open the second half.
"It's what we expect out of Letrez," said Ames. "He's a great talent and a great teammate."
Senior running back Bryce Garcia complemented Jones with 145 yards on 22 carries for the Trojans and scored a 5-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for a 41-30 advantage.
Meanwhile, junior quarterback Tanner Tutterrow continued his improvement, completing 9 of 16 passes for 101 yards to help the Trojans amass 422 on 76 plays compared to Sehome's 394 yards on 61 plays. He also scored on a sneak for Meridian's third touchdown.
A combined 137 plays is unusually high in a high school game, but this really was an epic.
"It must have been a really fun show for the fans," Norvell said.
Indeed it was, especially for Sehome followers when Miksovsky -- a basketball star who decided he had to try football -- caught a 23-yard scoring pass for the game's final points with 5:26 remaining.
"I was absolutely not surprised by Miksovsky," said Norvell. "He's a great athlete and he loves to compete. He stepped it up huge tonight."
Jones and Garcia, along with Cody Bachman, ran power plays to try to run out the clock and almost succeeded.
Ziegler's 71-yard dash, on which he picked his holes expertly, and Sam Diehl's 27-yard field goal pulled Sehome within 14-10 in the second quarter.
Ames was especially pleased with the line play of Tucker Garcia and Spencer Blackburn and added that Kaleb Heezen was also frequently outstanding.
"We had a good team effort to eke out a win, but we have to get a lot better," said Ames, referring to the fact that he now plays his five-game Class 1A portion of the schedule.
The Mariners, meanwhile, find they have a lot of options as they take an 0-2 mark against 2A competition into games against playoff hopefuls Lynden, Burlington, Squalicum and Sedro-Woolley.
Anyone who saw Friday's thriller would acknowledge that Sehome may have suddenly made the rest of the season a whole lot more interesting, especially if the versatile Ziegler can stay healthy.
MERIDIAN 41, SEHOME 36
Meridian 7 21 7 6- 41
Sehome 0 10 20 6- xx
Meridian-Latrez Jones 4 run (Yoel Ortiz kick)
Meridian-Jones 1 run (Ortiz kick)
Sehome-Daniel Ziegler 71 run (Sam Diehl kick)
Sehome-Diehl 27 FG
Meridian-Tanner Tutterrow 1 run (Ortiz kick)
Meridian-Jones 3 run (Ortiz kick)
Meridian-Jones 45 run (Ortiz kick)
Sehome-Austin Vosburgh 1 run (Diehl kick)
Sehome-Taylor Rapp 6 pass from Aaron Nichols (kick failed)
Sehome-Evan Miksovsky 6 pass from Nichols (Diehl kick)
Meridian- Bryce Garcia 5 run (run failed)
Sehome-Miksovsky 23 pass from Nichols (pass failed)
First downs 33 21
Rushing Att-Yards 60-321 26-149
Comp-Att-Int 9-16-1 18-35-0
Passing yards 101 245
Penalties-yards 9-72 6-60
Fumbles-lost 5-4 4-3
RUSHING-Meridian: Latrez Jones 24-148, Bryce Garcia 22-145, Cody Bachman 7-33, Tanner Tutterrow 7-(minus 5). Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 13-122, Taylor Rapp 5-12, Austin Vosburgh 3-4, Blaise Black 1-2, Aaron Nichols 4-9.
PASSING-Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 9-16-101-1. Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 1-5-10-0, Aaron Nichols 17-30-235-0.
RECEIVING-Meridian: Latrez Jones 4-32, Sam Chambers 2-24, Jacob Plagerman 2-24, Kyle Linderman 1-21. Sehome: Evan Miksovsky 8-110, Taylor Rapp 8-120, Elijah Andrushenko 1-10, Sam Diehl 1-5.