So much for the annual Lynden-Ferndale rivalry losing its luster.
Just when the big game began feeling one-sided toward Lynden, Whatcom County's two most decorated football program's offered up a four-quarter instant classic.
The Golden Eagles snapped the Lions’ 33-game win streak, and for coach Jamie Plenkovich’s crew, which was enduring its worst start since 2011, the feeling couldn't have been sweeter.
"I'm really proud of our kids tonight," said Plenkovich, who was engulfed by his players in celebration following postgame handshakes. "We've faced a lot of adversity this year, and just to come out against a really good football team in Lynden, a football team that hasn't lost in a really long time and get a win on their football field, hats off to our guys and how they executed tonight."
Led by bruising senior back Marcus Nightingale, Daniel Jones and Justice Powell, the Golden Eagles ran all over the Lions and scored a major 37-35 upset over No. 1-ranked Lynden on Friday, Oct. 17, at Rollie DeKoster Field.
Ferndale churned out 292 rushing yards and even passed for 82. Nightingale, who Plenkovich called the Golden Eagles' personal "Beast Mode," ran for a team-best 126 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, Powell chipped in 101 yards and a score and Jones added 57 yards and a TD of his own.
The Golden Eagles' win was their first over Lynden since they beat the Lions 41-6 in 2008, and it was Lynden's first loss since taking a 42-39 defeat against King's to open the 2012 season. The win also ended the Lions' 55-game win streak in Northwest Conference play.
"Knowing we had that game in the bag was the best feeling in the world," said Ferndale lineman Chris Hernandez, speaking on the Golden Eagles' game-clinching fourth-and-1 stop on Lynden's final possession. "This is a three-time state champ team, and we ended their streak, and that's the best feeling to us."
Ferndale (3-4, 3-2 NWC 2A/3A) didn't begin the game like a team with a sub-.500 record.
The Golden Eagles journeyed on long, physically-punishing drives, scoring touchdowns on four of their five first-half possessions.
Ferndale led early 14-0, and took a 28-20 lead into the halftime with touchdown runs of 22 and 2 yards from Nightingale, a 15-yard score from Jones and a 5-yard TD from Powell right before that the change-of-pace back set up himself with a 52-yard run.
Lynden (6-1, 4-1 NWC 2A/3A) lost defending Class 2A State Player of the Year Trent Postma just 2:26 into the game on Ferndale's first drive. Postma returned for one series in the second half, but never again returned.
With Postma out, the Lions relied heavily on quarterback Sterling Somers, who completed 25 of 37 passes for 333 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.
He kept the Lions in the game with TD tosses of 10 and 16 yards to Scooter Hastings, 12 and 44 yards to Jonathan Whetnall and a 41-yard strike to Jordan Wittenberg, but even Lynden's aerial display couldn't keep up with Ferndale's ground-and-pound.
"Their running attack," Lions coach Curt Kramme said. "We did a really poor job of defending the run, but I don't want to take anything away from them. They did a great job of executing their plays, and we didn't do a great job defensively."
Even with Lynden's inability to stop Ferndale's offense, the Lions had a chance late to win it following a plethora of late Golden Eagles' miscues.
Ferndale took a 37-28 lead with 10:07 to play in the fourth following a high snap on a punt that went into the end zone for a safety.
The Lions' defense rose up and forced a Ferndale punt, and on a third-and-19, Lynden completed a 9-yard pass that turned into a first down after a Golden Eagles player was flagged for a personal foul.
Four plays later Lynden trimmed Ferndale's lead to 37-35 after Somers connected with Hastings for a 16-yard score with 3:48 to go.
Ferndale fumbled the ball on a third-and-3 on its own 27 for a 3-yard loss, which opened the door for more late Lynden heroics after the Golden Eagles' punt only went 14 yards.
With 2:14 left Lynden moved the ball to Ferndale's 31, but on a fourth-and-1, Hernandez and the rest of the Golden Eagle's defensive front stopped Lucas Petersen short of the line to gain, prompted a mass celebration along Ferndale's sideline.
"I'm ecstatic," Jones said. "It's awesome. We knew we could do it. We watch them on film. We knew we could do it."
Lynden has a showdown next week with undefeated Sedro-Woolley at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, while Ferndale travels to play Sehome the same time and date.
Fern — Marcus Nightingale 22 run (Andrew Higginson-Fernandez)
Fern — Daniel Jones 15 run (Higginson-Fernandez)
Lyn — Scooter Hastings 10 pass from Sterling Somers (Per Wolfisberg kick)
Fern — Nightingale 2 run (Higginson-Fernandez kick)
Lyn — Whetnall 12 pass from Somers (kick fail)
Lyn — Whetnall 44 pass from Somers (Wolisberg kick)
Fern — Justice Powell 5 run (Higginson-Fernandez kick)
Lyn — Jordan Wittenberg 41 pass from Somers (Postma pass from Somers)
Fern — Nightingale 1 run (Higginson-Fernandez kick)
Fern — Safety
Lyn — Hastings 16 pass from Somers (Wolisberg kick)
RUSHING — Ferndale: Marcus Nightingale 24-126, Justice Powell 8-101, Daniel Jones 14-57, Kyler Schemstad 2-(-4), Ben Broselle 1-12. Lynden: Sterling Somers 15-19, Lucas Petersen 5-29, Trent Postma 2-7, Jonathan Whetnall 1-7.
PASSING — Ferndale: Kyler Schemstad 3-4-82-0. Lynden: Sterling Somers 25-37-333-1.
RECEIVING — Ferndale: Daniel Jones 1-57, Ben Broselle 1-13, Jackson King 1-12. Lynden: Jonathan Whetnall 9-135, Jordan Wittenberg 5-82, Lucas Petersen 6-53, Scooter Hastings 4-53, Noah King 1-10.