The Meridian football team kept its season alive with a dramatic 17-14 win over eighth-ranked King’s in a Class 1A Northwest District playoff game Saturday night.
With 23 seconds left in regulation, the game seemed set for overtime tied at 14. King’s had posession on its own 22 when quarterback Jack Van Dyke was sacked and fumbled, allowing Meridian to recover.
An ensuing personal foul against King’s gave the Trojans an extra 10 yards, putting them 12 yards from the end zone with 15.7 seconds remaining.
Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett tried a pass to the end zone that fell incomplete, leaving 3.9 seconds left – just enough time for Meridian kicker Nick Sebastian to make a game-winning 29-yard field goal as time expired.
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Sebastian, a senior, said he approached the kick very methodically and credited his holder and long snapper.
“It’s just like any other kick,” he said. “Just like an extra point; nothing changes. You’ve got to think about it the same way as everything else. Don’t let (the other team) scare you, because they’re bringing the pressure.”
Meridian (5-5) receives the district’s No. 2 seed to state and will travel to face Cascade Christian at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sumner. The Cougars won a Sept. 17 meeting between the two teams 34-33.
With the Trojans’ win, Mount Baker receives the district’s top seed and will host Hoquiam in the first round. The time for the game has not be set.
Trojans coach Bob Ames attributed Saturday’s close game to both team’s many injuries, especially King’s.
“They were tough defensively,” Ames said. “We couldn’t do a whole lot of anything. Until (the Knights’ RB Caleb Perry) got hurt, they were running all over us.”
The game featured a bevy of penalties – eight for Meridian and 11 for King’s – and critical mistakes.
Besides the fumble that cost them the game, Van Dyke threw two interceptions, the second of which occurred in the fourth quarter with just 2:14 remaining, but neither pick turned into points for Meridian.
The Trojans made their own errors, though, fumbling a kick return that turned into seven points for the Knights in the second quarter. They also fumbled a punt return in the third quarter.
Still, none of it mattered once Sebastian’s kick went between the uprights.
Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett completed 12 of 32 passes for 104 yards, while Dawson Logan scored the team’s only receiving touchdown – a 46-yard bomb to Andrew Logan midway through the second quarter.
Tony Schleimer and Cole Roberts led the team in rushing, with 39 and 45 yards, respectively.
Schleimer tied the game with a 4-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Meridian had 97 yards rushing and 150 yards passing.
Despite the exciting victory, Ames said the Trojans didn’t enter the game dreaming of a state playoff berth.
“They knew how hard they had to play,” Ames said of his team. “We never talked about winning; it was just doing your job and getting better.”
Kin – Brennon Blevins 41 catch (Jack Van Dyke kick)
Kin – Caleb Perry 12 run (Van Dyke kick)
Mer – Andrew Logan 46 catch (Nick Sebastian kick)
Mer – Tony Schleimer 4 run (Sebastian kick)
Mer – Sebastian 29 FG
RUSHING – Meridian: Tony Schleimer 12-39, Cole Roberts 9-45, Simon Burkett 8-10, Andrew Logan 2-3. King’s: Andrew Cline 13-23, Jack Van Dyke 11-19, Caleb Perry 9-48, Logan Perrigo 7-1.
PASSING – Meridian: Simon Burkett 12-32-0-104, Dawson Logan 1-1-0-46. King’s: Jack Van Dyke 10-28-2-124.
RECEIVING – Meridian: Dawson Logan 3-42, TJ Dykstra 3-27, Andrew Logan 2-47, Lukas Hemenway 2-20, Tony Schleimer 2-10, Dawson Phillips 1-4. King’s: Blake Dornay 4-43, Luke Wicks 2-19, Brennon Blevins 1-41, Caleb Perry 1-25, Atley Shapiro 1-(-2), Jace Fransen 1- (-2).