BELLINGHAM - Civic Stadium has a synthetic playing surface, just like Class 1A tri-district rules require for its football playoff games, but Blaine decided to bring the "Lawnmower" anyway.
And good thing the Borderites did, because things were starting to look a little ragged.
Senior defensive end Andrey Baydak has earned the nickname "Lawnmower" from his coaches for forcing five fumbles during 1A Northwest Conference play this season.
"It all started at Lynden Christian," Blaine coach Jay Dodd said. "We were down by two scores, and it was late in the game, and they had the ball. We had just done a strip drill that week, and Andrey got his hand on the ball, and the ball carrier carried him for 3, 4 yards, but Andrey just kept ripping and kept ripping and kept ripping and caused a fumble against Lynden Christian.
"The next week he caused a fumble against Friday Harbor. Every week, it seems like he causes a fumble. We watch film on Saturday mornings, and he gets in there, and it's just like he's cranking a lawnmower. He starts cranking on the ball like he's grabbing the handle and staring up a lawnmower."
Add Port Townsend to the list of opponents Baydak has mowed down in the past six games.
Not only did Baydak rip the ball right out Port Townsend's arms in the fourth quarter of a one-touchdown game, but he also, in stride, returned it 43 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown, helping Blaine hold on for a 35-21 victory.
"I don't remember much of it," Baydak said. "It happened so fast, but I was so happy. ... I think it turned momentum around to our side. They were catching up to us. Once I scored, the momentum got back on our side, and everyone got excited."
They got even more excited 8 minutes, 45 seconds later, when the final second ticked off the clock and the Borderites (5-5) secured their first trip to the state playoffs since 2009.
"We haven't been in the state tournament for three years now and to get back in feels great," Baydak said.
Blaine will enter as either the tri-district's No. 3 or No. 4 seed, depending on the outcome of Meridian's game at Charles Wright on Saturday, Nov. 9, meaning the Borderites will travel to face the Southwest District's No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the first round of state.
Getting there is a huge accomplishment for this year's group.
"It means a lot for our football program," Dodd said. "It is an expectation to make it this far every year and to go further. For whatever reason the last few years, we haven't done it. But give credit to our kids. We've had a lot of adversity this season - a quarterback injury, and we've kind of mixed and matched some defensive lineups. But we're here. We played well enough to win."
But just four seconds into the fourth quarter, the Borderites saw their 20-6 advantage trimmed in half, when Port Townsend quarterback Jacob King picked his way in from a yard out to cap off a drive he highlighted with his own 62-yard run to the Blaine 7.
After Blaine's next offensive possession went nowhere, the Redskins took over at their own 36 with hopes of tying the game up.
But two plays later, Baydak mowed down those hopes, as his first return TD made the score 27-13.
"He was able to strip it and went almost in stride," Dodd said. "It was a huge, huge play."
The play proved even bigger, when Tim Russell broke a 35-yard run through the middle of the Borderites' defense, and his 2-point conversion run made it 27-21 with 6:29 to play.
But that's when the Blaine's offense answered.
Following a nice return by Cole Muder, quarterback Marcus Potts directed the Borderites on an eight-play, 58-yard march that consumed 4:17. The big play on was an amazing, one-handed catch by Josiah Westbrook that went for 37 yards. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Potts kept and managed to push the ball across the goal line for the clinching score with 1:52 remaining.
Anthony Ball's interception sealed the victory.
That was Blaine's second interception of the game, as Westbrook intercepted King on the first play from scrimmage.
That set up Muder for a 7-yard touchdown run.
After Port Townsend tied it, 6-6, on its second possession, Muder broke a 34-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 thanks to a nice downfield block from Westbrook to make it 13-6 Blaine. Cody Gobbato added a 14-yard scoring reception from Potts on Blaine's first possession of the second half to make it 20-6.
Muder finished with 140 yards and two TDs on 26 carries, while Westbrook had three catches for 87 yards.
Port Townsend 6 0 0 15- 21
Blaine 13 0 7 15- 35
Bla - Cole Muder 7 run (kick failed)
PT - Tim Russell 1 run (pass failed)
Bla - Muder 34 run (Peter Benne kick)
Bla - Cody Gobbato 14 pass from Marcus Potts (Benne kick)
PT - Jacob King 1 run (Austin Khile kick)
Bla - Andrey Baydak 43 fumble return (Benne kick)
PT - Russell 35 run (Russell run)
Bla - Potts 1 run (Westbrook pass from Potts)
First downs 15 14
Rushing Att-Yards 40-261 38-186
Comp-Att-Int 5-12-2 8-12-1
Passing yards 67 136
Penalties-yards 3-20 8-60
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
RUSHING - Port Townsend: Tim Russell 11-76, David Sua 5-19, Jacob King 10-80, Matt Cain 7-70, Domenick Zack 7-16. Blaine: Marcus Potts 5-12, Cole Muder 26-140, Brian Ferrer 7-34.
PASSING - Port Townsend: Jacob King 5-12-2-67. Blaine: Marcus Potts 8-12-1-136.
RECEIVING - Port Townsend: Skyler Coppenrath 3-41, David Sua 1-0, Tim Russell 1-26. Blaine: Josiah Westbrook 3-87, Jordan Antonson 2-28, Cole Muder 2-14, Joe Leeking 1-7.
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Reach David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org .