LAUREL - Borderites backup quarterback Marcus Potts ran through more plays during halftime Friday, Oct. 18, against Meridian than he did during this entire week of practice.
The sophomore hadn't attempted a pass in a varsity game all season. But when three-year starting signal-caller Nathan Kramme went down late in the first quarter with a lower leg injury, Potts led the Borderites to one of the grittiest, most impressive wins Blaine coach Jay Dodd said he's ever been a part of.
Potts helped Blaine overcome a slow night running the ball, igniting a second half rally highlighted by two touchdown passes to Josiah Westbrook that helped his club overcome a 14-point second-half deficit for a 24-21 Northwest Conference Class 1A victory over the Trojans in Laurel.
"Obviously, it was a huge, huge win for our kids," Dodd said. "To have our three-year starting quarterback go out and have lots of our offensive game plan around him. ... Quite frankly, we didn't give the backup quarterback much reps in practice this week. In fact, you could count single digits the amount of reps he got this week."
Blaine (4-3, 3-0 NWC 1A) didn't let its sudden adversity derail its hopes of leaving Meridian High with a win. The Borderites regrouped during halftime after a sluggish second quarter, and thanks to band night, Potts got extra work during halftime.
"Thank goodness it was Meridian's band night," Dodd said. "It gave us an extra five minutes of halftime, and we really needed it."
Potts finished 9 of 15 for 154 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Not only did he have to overcome Meridian's secondary, he battled visibility problems thanks to low-hanging fog so thick seeing sideline to sideline was virtually impossible.
Potts navigated Blaine on a 10-play, 80-yard TD drive after Meridian quarterback Tanner Tutterrow connected with Sam Chambers on a 74-yard touchdown early in the third to give Meridian (4-3, 2-1 NWC 1A) a 21-7 lead. Potts capped his scoring drive with a 20-yard strike to Westbrook in the back of the end zone to cut the Trojans' lead to 21-14.
Meridian also battled adversity. NWC leading rusher Letrez Jones, who scored on runs of 66 and 60 yards in the first half, was held out the second half after showing concussion symptoms. Tutterow and backup running back Bryce Garcia moved the ball modestly, but were challenged the final two quarters by Blaine's defense.
Potts tied the game with a 62-yard pass-and-run touchdown to Westbrook with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter following three consecutive Meridian turnovers on downs.
Potts underthrew Westbrook on a go route, but the speedy Blaine receiver adjusted to the ball, caught it, and made one move to beat his defender before sprinting down the near sideline for the score.
"Well, Kramme is of course our captain, and I knew I had to step up for my team there," Potts said, "and my team did an excellent job of protecting me out there, and that led us to a win. At first it was hard, because I wasn't used to that atmosphere out there, but after a while I got used to it, and my team again led me to play well, and they gave me the confidence to play well."
Following a Meridian punt and Blaine interception, Blaine cornerback Serge Shevchenko intercepted Tutterrow, and Blaine kicker Peter Benne booted through a 32-yard field goal with 2:08 to go that put the Borderites up for good.
Tutterrow drove Meridian to Blaine's 25. But with 18 seconds left, the Meridian quarterback's pass was batted down on a fourth-and-1.
"Our kids played their tails off," Meridian coach Bob Ames said. "I didn't do a very good job of putting them in positions to be successful, gosh. We just tried to do way too many things on defense. Because of my meddling, we didn't do anything well. Both teams dealt with adversity. They just dealt with it just a little better."
Kramme, who was a little hobbled after the game, wasn't too injured to helped Blaine douse Dodd with a Gatorade bath.
"I feel like his dad," Kramme said of Potts. "I'm pretty proud of him. I'm really proud as a teammate right now to know we can count on others to carry us to a win."
Cole Muder, who entered the game with the third most rushing yards in the NWC, was bottled up most of the night. He finished with 66 yards on 22 carries but scored on a first quarter 25-yard TD run.
Despite Jones' second-half absence, the electric Trojans back finished with 166 yards on eight carries and two TDs.
Meridian travels to play Lynden Christian next at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, while Blaine travels to Deming to face Mount Baker at the same time and date.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Meridian 0 14 7 0- 21
Blaine 7 0 7 10- 24
BLA - Cole Muder 25 run (Peter Benne kick)
MER - Letrez Jones 66 run (Yoel Ortiz kick)
MER - Jones 60 run (Ortiz kick)
MER - Sam Chambers 74 pass from Tanner Tutterow (Ortiz kick)
BLA - Josiah Westbrook 20 pass from Marcus Potts (Benne kcik)
BLA - Westbrook 62 pass from Potts (Benne kick)
BLA - Benne 32 field goal
First downs 13 15
Rushing Att-Yards 29-242 27-82
Comp-Att-Int 16-28-1 9-15-1
Passing yards 220 154
Penalties-yards 8-50 2-20
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
RUSHING - Meridian: Letrez Jones 8-166, Bryce Garcia 14-75, Tanner Tutterow 5-(-6), Cody Bachman 2-7. Blaine: Cole Muder 22-66, Nathan Kramme 4-12, Marcus Potts 1-4.
PASSING - Meridian: Tanner Tutterow 16-28-1-220. Blaine: Marcus Potts 9-15-1-154.
RECEIVING - Meridian: Sam Chambers 4-97, Jacob Plagerman 3-40, Kyle Linderman 2-19, Letrez Jones 2-27, Cody Bachman 2-9, Unknown due to fog 3-28. Blaine: Josiah Westbrook 3-92, Anthony Ball 3-44, Unknown due to fog 3-18.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.