LAUREL - Lynden Christian put a scare into coach Bob Ames and the Trojans, but Meridian used its dominant rushing attack to march on to the Class 1A Tri-District Tournament.
Letrez Jones, the Northwest Conference's leading rusher, called the win "one of the biggest of the season." He saw first-hand last year, when Meridian also won the District 1 mini playoff, how crushing a postseason absence can be after getting so close.
"Last year we came out in a similar situation," he said. "We got the better part of it, and we thought (a loss) could easily happen to us."
Meridian bounced back strong from an LC opening-drive touchdown after the Trojans' first drive stalled to earn a 28-12 win against Lynden Christian during a District 1 mini playoff Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Meridian High School. Lynden Christian defeated South Whidbey 7-0 in the first matchup. Both games were two quarters long.
The win sends Meridian to the tri-district playoffs game against Charles Wright Academy at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
Jones continued to shred NWC defenses, this time racking up 205 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. He scored on runs of 58, 56 and 6 yards. Bryce Garcia, who ran 53 yards on eight rushes, scored a pivotal TD from 3 yards out late in the second quarter.
But Meridian's ground work didn't come until LC quarterback Lucas Roetcisoender gave the Lyncs a huge momentum boost with a 76-yard TD pass to Alex Vander Velden on a third-and-10 during Lynden Christian's opening drive.
"The first score put a scare into us, but we got it together," Jones said.
Following the kickoff, Jones halted LC's momentum with a 58-yard TD run up the middle.
"That pumped a little life into us," said Lynden Christian coach Galen Kaemingk of the touchdown pass. "Unfortunately, two plays later they did that."
Jones gashed the Lyncs again early in the second quarter for a 56-yard TD that put Meridian in front 14-6, but Roetcisoender and LC answered by capping a six-play, 77-yard TD drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to cousin Lucas Roetcisoender. LC still trailed 14-12 after a failed two-point attempt.
Lucas finished 4 of 12 for 106 yards, two TDs and an interception, but LC's passing attack was neutralized by a near 7-minute 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive that put Meridian up two possessions with less than 2 minutes to play. Jones polished the drive with a 6-yard score.
"Very critical," said Ames of the drive. "It kept the ball out of the quarterback's hands and allowed us to be successful. Good work up front."
Down 21-12, Meridian's Jacob Plagerman intercepted an errant pass by Lucas to seal the game. Meridian also beat LC 45-14 back on Oct. 25, in Lynden.
Lynden Christian managed only 29 rushing yards to Meridian's 258.
In spite of its struggles against Meridian's offense, LC's defense carried the Lyncs to their 7-0 win against South Whidbey.
Lynden Christian's defense limited the Falcons' offense to 72 total yards, and Kyle Tiemersma's 15-yard interception return for a touchdown was the difference in the game.
Tiemersma stepped in front of a swing pass by South Whidbey quarterback Nick French in the second quarter and easily ran in for the score, and Blake Mellema ended the Falcons' last-minute comeback bid with an interception of his own.
"I thought we did a good job," Kaemingk said. "We came out and we controlled the ball. That was our plan. The defense came up with the big play, and we were able to hold on."
Jordan Jansen ran for a team-high 55 yards on 12 carries, and Josh Friberg added 47 yards on 14 carries. The Lyncs will end their season with a crossover game this Friday or Saturday, Nov. 8-9.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
South Whidbey 0 0- 0
Lynden Christian 0 7- 7
LC - Kyle Tiemersma 15 yard interception return (Trevor Kamena kick)
First downs 3 7
Rushing Att-Yards 8-18 32-85
Comp-Att-Int 5-12-2 2-3-0
Passing yards 54 34
Penalties-yards 5-35 3-15
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
RUSHING - South Whidbey: Nick French 6-7, Cooper Nichols 1-1, Kale Reichersamer 1-10. Lynden Christian: Jordan Jansen 12-55, Josh Friberg 14-47, Lucas Roetcisoender 5-(-19), Blake Mellema 1-2
PASSING - South Whidbey: Nick French 5-12-2-54. Lynden Christian: Lucas Roetcisoender 2-3-0-34.
RECEIVING - South Whidbey: Kale Reichersamer 3-39, Cooper Nichols 1-11, Jordan Parrick 1-4. Lynden Christian: Josh Hornstra 1-23, Alex Vander Velden 1-11
Lynden Christian 6 6 - 12
Meridian 7 21 - 28
LC - Alex Vander Velden 76 pass from Lucas Roetcisoender (kick blocked)
MER - Letrez Jones 58 run (Yoel Ortiz kick)
MER - Jones 56 run (Ortiz kick)
LC - Zach Roetcisoender 8 pass from Lucas Roetcisoender (pass failed)
MER - Bryce Garcia 3 run (Ortiz kick)
MER - Jones 6 run (Ortiz kick)
First downs 5 11
Rushing Att-Yards 13-29 27-258
Comp-Att-Int 4-12-1 3-5-0
Passing yards 104 37
Penalties-yards 0-0 5-45
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
RUSHING - Lynden Christian: Josh Friberg 7-13, Jordan Jansen 4-26, Lucas Roetcisoender 2-(-10). Meridian: Letrez Jones 19-205, Bryce Garcia 8-53.
PASSING - Lynden Christian: Lucas Roetcisoender 4-12-1-104. Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 3-5-0-37.
RECEIVING - Lynden Christian: Alex Vander Velden 3-96, Zach Roetcisoender 1-8. Meridian: Sam Chambers 2-38, Letrez Jones 1-(-1).
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.