There’s only one stat anybody needs to know to figure out how the high school football game between Bellingham and Lynden Christian went on Friday, Sept. 19, at Lynden Christian High School.
The average starting field position for the Lyncs was Bellingham’s 40-yard line. Yes, you read that right. The Lyncs average starting field position on their 13 possessions wasn’t even in their own half of the field in LC’s 41-0 win over Bellingham.
“Our kicking game has been really good for us,” LC coach Galen Kaemingk said. “Things are going to get a lot tougher. Every yard is going to be important.”
The Lyncs (3-0) benefited right from the start, when Nathan Rusnak returned the opening kickoff to his own 45-yard line. But the Bellingham (0-3) defense wasn’t about to get behind so early, as the Red Raiders forced a three-and-out.
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“We didn’t start as fast as we have been,” Kaemingk said. “I think some of the guys thought maybe this was kind of going to be a pushover game. But Bellingham came out and they played hard.”
Bellingham would go on its best drive of the day, benefiting from a 52-yard Kalien Hayes run. It looked like Hayes, who was patiently bouncing around in the backfield before he broke it open, was going for a score, but he suddenly lost his footing as he stumbled out of bounds.
It helped Bellingham pin back the Lyncs to the 21-yard line, their worst field position of the night. Two passes from Lucas Roetcisoender combined for 48 yards, and the Lyncs ended the 10-play drive with a 30-yard Cody Fransen field goal.
Then the misfortunes for Bellingham started to come. The Red Raiders went three-and-out on their next possession and gave the Lyncs the ball at the Bellingham 32-yard line.
Once again, the Bellingham defense stepped up, which became somewhat of a theme on the night despite the 41 points it let up. The Red Raiders held the Lyncs to a field goal — this time a 36-yarder from Fransen.
A Bellingham three-and-out and a bobbled punt later, the Lyncs had the ball at the Bellingham 38-yard line, the second of seven Lyncs’ drives that started in Bellingham territory.
Holding on the first play of that drive doomed the Lyncs as they couldn’t move the chains despite three completed Lucas Roetcisoender passes.
Hayes threw a pick on the very next play following a Lyncs turnover on downs, and LC’s Rusnak returned it to the Bellingham 8. Hayes was injured on the play when he got a hard hit to his chest as he threw.
He laid on the ground for a couple minutes before walking off the field under his own power. He would return to the field on the next drive with his team down 13-0, following the first of Jordan Jansen’s touchdown runs.
Despite the return of their quarterback, the Red Raiders didn’t find success. Hayes got sacked and then fumbled on the next play, giving the ball back to the Lyncs.
Evidently, LC didn’t want to have the ball because Roetcisoender threw an interception on the very next play.
It was one of Bellingham’s best plays of the game to get the pick. Eric Thompson leaped off his back foot and fell to the ground in the end zone to snag the should-have-been TD pass.
Bellingham’s offense just couldn’t move the ball at all in the game, punting the ball back to the Lyncs in just four short plays.
Rusnak had another great return to put the Lyncs with the ball at the Bellingham 20, and five plays later Jansen ran in his second touchdown of the game from 5 yards out.
Down 20-0, the teams started to get a little feisty. On the third play of the Bellingham drive, LC’s Blake Mellema crushed Bellingham’s Tanner Aliff, forcing the Red Raider’s helmet off, as Aliff attempted to catch a pass from Hayes. The crowd cheered and the Lyncs sideline jumped up and down, but a personal foul was called on Mellema for unnecessary roughness.
“It’s awesome seeing a big, hard hit,” Jansen said. “We tell our guys ‘We want to see big hard hits. Don’t take it easy.’ It’s just hard when you see flags thrown for it.”
Bellingham turned the ball over on downs four plays later. With 16 seconds left in the half, the Lyncs still had time for Roetcisoender’s second interception of the game as time expired. Kyle Hoffstetter was the benefactor of the last-second heave.
At the half, the stats were surprisingly close. LC had only 148 yards to Bellingham’s 92.
The second half proved to be a much different story. On the second play of LC’s first drive of the second half, Jansen broke open a 72-yard TD run — his third of the game.
“It’s not the running backs that make the plays, it’s the lineman,” Jansen said.
Although Jansen’s speed certainly helped.
The Lyncs, who struggled to move the ball on the ground in the first half, now had a 27-0 lead and plenty of momentum.
“They were making us work,” Kaemingk said. “We were playing guys that were real hungry on defense and so when we broke that one, that kind of broke their back a little bit.”
Bellingham only had one drive that lasted longer than four plays in the second half and the Lyncs scored two more touchdowns to make it 41-0 — the first a 1-yard pass from Roetcisoender to Kaden Bratt, the second a 10-yard run from Nathan Wynstra.
“We have to block and hang on to the ball and do everything better on offense,” Bellingham coach Ted Flint said.
The Lyncs will hope to continue Friday night’s success in its league opener against Meridian on Friday, Sept. 26, on the road. Bellingham finished its toughest part of the season on Friday night and begins its out-of-county slate against Charles Wright Academy Friday on the road.
“We just want to improve, just have to keep getting better,” Flint said.
LC — Cody Fransen 30 FG
LC — Fransen 36 FG
LC — Jordan Jansen 5 run (Fransen kick)
LC — Jansen 3 run (Fransen kick)
LC — Jansen 72 run (Fransen kick)
LC — Kaden Bratt 1 pass from Lucas Roetcisoender (Fransen kick)
LC — Nathan Wynstra 10 run (Fransen kick)
Lynden ChristianFirst downs615Rushing Att-yards41-10736-219Comp-Att-Int1-11-110-18-2Passing yards1293Penalties-yards2-106-51Fumbles-lost4-21-0
RUSHING — Bellingham: Kalien Hayes 14-53, Tanner Aliff 14-45, Jacob Frazier 10-17, Akash Kumar 2-(-4), Kyle Hoffstetter 1-(-4). Lynden Christian: Blake Mellema 4-16, Jordan Jansen 18-108, Jake Van Berkum 7-58, Blake Browning 3-12, Nathan Wynstra 4-25.
PASSING — Bellingham: Kalien Hayes 1-7-1-12, Kyle Hoffstetter 0-4-0-0. Lynden Christian: Lucas Roetcisoender 10-18-2-93.
RECEIVING — Bellingham: Colin Bigelow 1-12. Lynden Christian: Ty Vander Yacht 1-2, Nathan Rusnak 3-39, Travis Roosma 3-39, Blake Mellema 1-0, Kaden Bratt 2-13.