Lions' defense shines in win over Golden Eagles

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 25, 2013 

FERNDALE - The No. 2-ranked Lions' most valuable asset against the Golden Eagles may not have seen a single snap Friday, Oct. 25, at Ferndale High School.

The muddied jerseys of linebackers Trent Postma and Jaremy Martin made their numbers hardly visible. For four quarters the pair wreaked havoc on Ferndale's running game. But it was what the guys standing along Lynden's sideline in freshly-minted white jerseys did Monday through Thursday that prepared Postma and Martin for Ferndale's deceptive, run-heavy offense.

"Our scout guys gave us a great look at practice, and we were prepared for what Ferndale was going to do offensively," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "I tip my hat to our scout-team guys. They are just as important to our program as Sterling (Somers), Trent or Jaremy."

Lynden's defense limited its opponent to one touchdown for the fifth time this year and blanked the Golden Eagles in the second half. Somers, making his first road start during Whatcom County's fiercest football rivalry, led the Lions on a critical first-half touchdown drive and threw a second-half TD to lead his club to a 14-6 Northwest Conference Class 2A/3A grind-it-out win.

The victory was Lynden's 21st straight dating back to last year's season opener and was the fifth straight win over Ferndale since the Golden Eagles beat the Lions 41-6 in 2008. It also captured a NWC title for undefeated Lynden (8-0, 6-0 NWC 2A/3A).

The Lions held Ferndale (6-2, 4-2 NWC 2A/3A) to 210 rushing yards and got important stops when they needed to, including interceptions by Rudy Mendoza and Jacob Boland and a fourth-quarter fumble recovery.

"That was our focus all week," said Postma of stopping Ferndale's rushing attack. "We knew they ran it like 80 percent of the time, so that's what we prepared for at practice. We just got good at it. We got in a rhythm and started to stop them."

Somers, whom Postma called "brave" for the way he played in a hostile road environment, had his ups and downs. The sophomore QB finished 5 of 12 for 96 yards and an interception. He also ran 10 times for 33 yards, but his most important work was done during a crucial 12-play, 97-yard drive in the second quarter after Lynden's first three possessions were punt, interception, punt.

Ferndale's Christian Cameron picked off a Somers pass over the middle in the first quarter, setting up a Golden Eagle three-play, 25-yard drive capped by a bullish Marcus Nightingale run from 3 yards out. Kicker Andrew Higginson missed the extra point, but Ferndale's only score put them up 6-0 with 2:58 to go in the first.

Lynden's offense finally started moving after it changed to a two tight-end set, Kramme said. Starting at its own 3, Postma began the drive with a 25-yard run around the right side. He had rushes of 26 and 16 on the drive and polished it with a 2-yard TD plunge, giving Lynden a 7-6 halftime lead. The Lions recorded 97 of their 105 first-half yards on the drive that amassed nearly 6 minutes.

"We were backed up against our own goal line, so we went to two tight ends," Kramme said. "Trent ripped off a nice run, so we stayed with it. I think we went all the way to the end zone with our two tight-end set."

Kramme said Ferndale's Cover 0 hampered the deep-passing game, but wide receiver Scooter Hastings took advantage of the one-on-one press coverage less than a minute into the second half.

Somers lofted a pass to Hastings down the right side line on a first-and-10 from Lynden's 38. The tall wideout snatched the ball out the air, shed his defender and sprinted 45 yards for the score, putting Lynden in front 14-6 less than a minute after halftime.

That was all the Lions needed, especially with their dominant defense that held star running back Joey Akers to 87 yards on 22 carries and Nightingale to 84 yards on 16 carries.

Ferndale moved efficiently between the 30s, but as the ball neared Lynden's end zone, the Golden Eagles' offense habitually sputtered.

"A couple of times it was just ourselves," said Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich of why his club's drives kept stalling. "You have to finish drives against a good football team and put points on the board. We had opportunities to do that, but we didn't capitalize on those. Those usually come back to haunt you against good teams, and that was the case tonight."

In the second half, Lynden's defense forced Ferndale into a turnover on downs at the Lynden 35, a punt from its own 27 and a lost fumble near midfield. But the Golden Eagles had a final drive to tie the game following a Somers fumble defender Austin Honeycutt recovered in his own end zone.

Ferndale quarterback Cooper Clark, who was 2 of 5 for 15 yards and two interceptions, navigated his offense to Lynden's 34 with 50 seconds left. But on a fourth-and-9, Mendoza broke up Clark's pass over the middle after a long scramble.

"It feels great," said Somers of the win. "It's a nice feeling. Our team just played great tonight. It was a total team effort."

Besides Postma's work on defense, the junior back ran for 95 yards on 16 carries. Hastings' two catches for 76 yards led Lynden's receiving corps.

The Lions end their regular season against Squalicum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in Lynden. Ferndale finishes with Anacortes at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in Ferndale.

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862.

Lynden 0 7 7 0- 14

Ferndale 6 0 0 0- 6

First quarter

FERN - Marcus Nightingale 3 run (kick fail)

Second quarter

LYN - Trent Postma 2 run (Alex Otano-Guenther kick)

Third quarter

LYN - Scooter Hastings 62 pass from Sterling Somers (Otano-Guenther kick)

Lyn Fern

First downs 11 16

Rushing Att-Yards 29-139 55-210

Comp-Att-Int 5-12-1 2-6-2

Passing yards 96 15

Penalties-yards 0-0 1-5

Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1

Individual leaders

RUSHING - Lynden: Trent Postma 16-95, Sterling Somers 10-33, Jaremy Martin 3-11. Ferndale: Joey Akers 22-87, Marcus Nightingale 16-84, Christian Cameron 9-23, Cooper Clark 5-(-2), Daniel Jones 3-18.

PASSING - Lynden: Sterling Somers 5-12-1-96. Ferndale: Cooper Clark 2-5-2-15, Joey Akers 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING - Lynden: Scooter Hastings 2-76, Jalani Phelps 1-10, Jaremy Martin 1-7, Trey Shagren 1-3. Ferndale: Christian Cameron 1-8, Robert Hardin 1-7..

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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