Nooksack Valley’s 6-foot-6 senior passing star Casey Bauman could only grin and say with obvious sincerity, “It’s really a lot of fun to throw to (another) 6-6 guy,” referring to Jordan Veening.
Then Bauman looked at 5-9 Baylor Galley and said, “And that 5-9 guy, too.”
“I’m 5-9 on a good day,” said Galley, who couldn’t help grinning after catching eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown Friday night.
Veening was just as productive with six catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
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Nooksack’s 35-17 Class 1A Northwest Conference win over Lynden Christian had all the Pioneers, especially the seniors, in the best mood of their football lives.
The Pioneers (5-4 overall, 2-4 NWC) claimed the league’s third and final district spot, the first for the senior class including Bauman, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 291 yards and no interceptions. They will face Sultan on the road next Friday with a state spot at stake.
Lynden Christian (3-6, 1-5), which is surely one of the best last-place 1A teams in league history, will find a non-league game somewhere.
Classic first half
Nooksack claimed a 21-17 first half lead with touchdown catches by Evan Neitling (13 yards), Galley (47) and Veening (23), who also kicked all five conversions.
But the Lyncs, who amassed 412 yards, gave the Pioneers a severe test. Derek Kamena kicked a 22-yard field, his first of the season, and Kalai Jandoc caught eight passes for 174 yards and a 74-yard score from Ty VanDyken, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 249 yards but suffered three interceptions – two by Galley and one by Veening.
LC’s Michael Lancaster really made it exciting when he juggled a 30-yard pass from VanDyken and tumbled backward into the end zone with 13.8 seconds left in the first half. Kamena’s conversion pulled the Lyncs within 21-17.
Jordan Riddle, who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, helped set up both scores and finished with 125 yards on 31 carries.
Veening caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and Bauman scored from the 1 on the first play of the fourth period, following Galley’s 18-yard catch.
Nooksack halted the Lyncs on the 5-yard line twice in the fourth quarter. A sack by Nooksack’s Kyle Veldman was LC’s final play, and Galley soon displayed the Pioneers’ spirit with a 33-yard run in the final two minutes, with the game well in hand.
“I didn’t expect this (to play so well both ways) this season. But like our entire team, I just played as hard as I could on every snap,” Galley said.
The Pioneers went without a turnover, which helped make all the difference under Bauman’s leadership.