Anyone who still thinks this might be a building year for Lynden – especially in view of last week’s loss to Ferndale – likely did not see the Lions’ 40-14 comeback win over Bellingham on Friday night at Civic Stadium.
That’s right – comeback.
The defending league champion Lions (2-1, 1-0 2A Northwest Conference) shook off an outstanding 65-yard touchdown catch-run by Bellingham junior Spencer Lee, which gave the Red Raiders (1-2, 0-1) a 7-6 lead late in the opening quarter.
But as good as that play felt for Bellingham, first-year Lynden head coach Blake VanDalen felt just fine watching the Lions’ defense limit the Raiders to 133 total yards after three quarters – with 121 on four catches by Lee – while building a 40-7 advantage.
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‘Kids a joy’
“It’s just great having a defense that allows your offense to have the confidence to be who they are,” VanDalen said. “These kids are a joy to coach.”
Lynden amassed 317 total yards in the first three quarters, and all but the 67 rushing and receiving by versatile senior Cory Warner were gained by juniors and sophomores.
After Lee’s dazzling score on a short pass from junior Rand Bentley – who played his first full game at quarterback – Lynden junior Trevin Melendez quickly took back the lead with an 18-yard score on the first of Lynden‘s four interceptions.
Three Melendez scores
Melendez added a 17-yard touchdown run for a 20-7 advantage, and sophomore Marko Samoukovic kicked the first of his two 32-yard field goals.
“Have to credit our line for a great game,” said Melendez, who watched junior Eric Martin-Mann take advantage to gain 100 yards on 11 carries behind the blocking of Jacob Kettels, Trey Labounty, Cooper Brown, Cole Crass and Marty Karb.
“Last year, the only time I got in was during blowouts,” Melendez said of his sophomore season.
Now it was his time to enjoy a blowout with a third touchdown, a 4-yarder early in the third quarter.
Warner pitches in
Warner, playing quarterback, executed a wildcat snap perfectly for a 45-yard score in the third quarter. Starting quarterback Brock Heppner, a sophomore, scored Lynden’s first touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
Lynden held Bellingham rushing leader Connor Wallace, who gained 247 yards against Shorewood last week, to 24 yards on nine carries through three quarters. But Wallace never stopped working hard and was rewarded with a 22-yard touchdown while finishing with 55 yards on 12 carries.
Junior defensive back Kobe Elsner also had a first-half interception, and reserves Derric Lloyd and Eric Bode made second-half pass thefts against Bentley, who finished with 170 yards on 12 for 27 passing.
Heppner was an efficient 6 for 12 for 78 yards.