BELLINGHAM - Sometimes over the past decade, it's seemed that there was a whole lot more fire in the glitzy smoke and flame entrance the Sehome football team has made in games at Civic Stadium than the product the Mariners put on the field.
That's what a seemingly endless streak of losing seasons can do to a program.
But on Saturday, Oct. 12, Sehome proved there is plenty of fight in these Mariners, as they battled back from a late fourth-quarter deficit to beat Burlington-Edison 28-17 in a Class 2A/3A Northwest Conference showdown.
After the Tigers (3-3, 2-2 NWC 2A/3A) took the lead with a 5-yard Timmie Rush touchdown run on fourth-and-goal with 4:58 to play, Sehome quarterback Daniel Ziegler directed the Mariners on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, that he capped off by lofting a 17-yard touchdown pass to Evan Miksovsky. Sehome added a defensive touchdown to put the game away.
"This is a good building block for us," Miksovsky said. "Sehome has been one of those teams you just kind of push over. It's not that way any more."
You don't have to tell the Tigers that, who have actually lost at the hands of the Mariners (2-4, 1-3) two straight years.
Sehome won a 30-29 heart-stopper last year, and came out Saturday intent on proving 2012 was no accident.
Perhaps because of that, the game seemed extra chippy, as the teams combined for 10 penalties for 78 yards including, four personal foul calls.
None were bigger than the roughing the holder penalty the Mariners were called for on a 32-yard field goal by Burlington's Tanner Gates midway through the fourth quarter.
The Tigers elected to take the points off the board for a first-and-goal opportunity at the Sehome 8.
The Mariners responded by holding Burlington to 3 combined yards on first, second and third downs. Sehome even appeared to have Rush stopped for little or no gain on fourth-and goal, but the Tigers junior, who was in for the injured Jae Evans and Eli Aguilar, kept his legs churning and fought his way into the end zone to give Burlington a 17-14 lead.
"You just got to tell guys to stay positive after that," Sehome senior Austin Vosburgh said. "It's football things are going to happen. Shake it off. ... Show them you're ready to go down and kick them in the teeth."
Ziegler proceeded to do that with his right arm and his legs, as he scrambled or kept the ball five times for 38 yards and hit 3 of 4 passes for 38 yards.
The biggest completion came on first-and-10 from the Burlington 17, when he lofted a pass toward Miksovsky along the right sideline inside the Tigers' 5.
"I just saw the ball in the air, and I was hoping I could catch it," said Miksovsky, who is in his first year playing varsity football for the Mariners. "I kind of bobbled it, but I ended up being able to reel it in."
As he reeled it in, he dragged a Tigers defensive back into the end zone with him for the go-ahead score with 1:32 to play.
Burlington still had time to attempt to mount another go-ahead drive, and when Sehome bailed them out with yet another personal foul penalty following an incomplete pass on third-and-19, it looked like they just might do that.
But on second-and-11 from the Sehome 47, quarterback Hunter Anderson was crushed by the Mariners' defensive front.
"I was rushing up the outside, and No. 71, Tyler Haggen, hit him and sent the ball up in the air," Tyler Hruby said. "I just grabbed it and ran with it."
Forty-eight yards later, Hruby iced the victory in the Burlington-Edison end zone, sending the south sideline at Civic Stadium into delirium and kicking off a post-game celebration that including an enthusiastic singing of the school fight song and posing for team pictures at midfield.
"We knew we could beat them," Hruby said. "We beat them last year. We came out confident we were going to win, and we did it. ... I think this turns things around for us. It was a big game. It was close the whole way, and we pulled through. I think it's going to help us."
If the Mariners can continue to show the fire they showed throughout, there's little doubt about that.
It didn't take Sehome long to show that fiery attitude.
After getting a defensive stop in its own territory on Burlington's opening possession, the Mariners blocked the punt. Hruby appeared to lead the charge, and Taylor Rapp scooped it up and raced 45 yards for the first yard of the game.
Sehome forced another punt near midfield on the Tigers' next possession, and Burlington's third offensive series ended with a missed field goal.
The Mariners weren't able to stretch their lead, though, as their first two offensive possessions netted only 5 yards, no first downs and a lost fumble.
The dangerous Jae Evans, who had 109 yards on 18 first-half carries, finally made Sehome pay nearly 5 minutes into the second quarter, when he plunged in from a yard out. The extra point gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
The Mariners finally got their first first down of the game on their next possession, but still had to punt.
But the defense immediately got the ball back, when Austin Vosburgh hammered Anderson on a sack. Hruby finally corralled the ball at the Burlington 14, and three plays later, Vosburgh's 2-yard run but the Mariners back on top, 14-7 with Ziegler's 2-point conversion run with 3:27 to play.
Ziegler nearly directed Sehome to another first-half score, but a tripping penalty negated Ziegler's 29-yard pass to Miksovsky at the Tigers' 3, and the Mariners came up empty.
"It's been a team effort," Vosburgh said. "Our main key has been believing in yourself and your team and then executing perfect plays."
Sehome next faces Squalicum on Friday, Oct. 18, at Civic Stadium in a game that likely will decide the city championship.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Burlington 0 7 3 7- 17
Sehome 6 8 0 14- 28
Seh - Rapp 45 blocked punt return (run failed)
BE - Jae Evans 1 run (Tanner Gates kick)
Seh - Austin Vosburgh 2 run (Daniel Ziegler run)
BE - Gates 38 FG
BE - Timmie Rush 5 run (Gates kick)
Seh - Evan Miksovsky 17 pass from Ziegler (Sam Diehl kick)
She - Tyler Hruby 48 fumble return (Diehl kick)
First downs 20 12
Rushing Att-Yards 60-195 27-85
Comp-Att-Int 4-15-0 10-21-1
Passing yards 54 138
Penalties-yards 4-26 6-52
Fumbles-lost 3-3 4-2
RUSHING - Burlington-Edison: Jae Evans 20-116, Hunter Jacobson 6-24, Hunter Anderson 10-(-21), Curtis Carlson 1-4, Rudy Mataya 2-1, Timmie Rush 3-7, Eli Aguilar 18-64. Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 19-72, Austin Vosburgh 8-13.
PASSING - Burlington-Edison: Hunter Anderson 4-15-0-54. Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 10-21-1-138.
RECEIVING - Burlington-Edison: Rudy Mataya 2-14, Blake Dimock 1-29, Logan Martinson 1-11. Sehome: Taylor Rapp 3-50, Sam Deihl 3-16, Evan Miksovsky 4-72.
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Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.