Only six players touched the ball, as sixth-ranked Nooksack Valley amassed 411 total yards to earn a 26-14 1A Northwest Conference upset over third-ranked Mount Baker, giving the Pioneers’ senior class their first win over the Mountaineers.
But the five other guys who provided most of the blocking – Kirk Veldman, Luke Winter, Colton Hickey, Easton Zylstra and (from the second series on) Hayden Hester – helped the Pioneers (4-0, 1-0 1A NWC) to run an extraordinary 70 plays from scrimmage.
“They’ve done a great job all season,” coach Robb Myhre said of his offensive linemen.
Now they’ll have to do it all over again against the Mountaineers (3-1, 0-1) in the second half of the league schedule, not to mention twice each against rugged Meridian and much-improved Lynden Christian.
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Pioneers quarterback Casey Bauman, who has committed to the University of Montana State, showed why the Bobcats were so eager to recruit the 6-foot-6, 220-pound athletic marvel.
Bauman completed 26 of 33 passes for 258 yards and touchdowns of 53 yards to Jordan Veening, who caught seven passes for a career-high 113 yards, and 18 yards to Kyle Veldman. Bauman scored Nooksack’s first and last touchdowns on short keepers in the first and third quarters to take a 26-7 advantage.
More strong stats
Nooksack’s Austin O’Bryan ran 18 times for 100 yards, and Bauman netted 44 yards on 16 carries. O’Bryan caught seven passes for 50 yards, while Baylor Galley, Evan Neitling and Veldman combined for 12 catches for 95 yards.
And those were the only rushers and receivers Bauman needed in a truly gritty performance.
Baker was no slouch, with 310 total yards, including 117 yards on 13 carries by Carson Engholm, who scored on an 11-yard run, cutting Baker’s deficit to 20-7 late in the second quarter. Engholm also scored on a 6-yard run with 6:40 remaining, but the Pioneers ran out all but the final 1:30.
Veening’s 53-yard touchdown catch on an amazing pass off a scramble by Bauman put the Pioneers up 20-0.
“I wasn’t the first option on that play,” said Veening, who also did some fine scrambling to get open, allowing Bauman to spot him far down the field.
Bauman lauds line
Bauman said his line was a sheer pleasure to play behind.
“When you have a line like ours, it’s such a great feeling to play behind them,” said the third-year quarterback, who surpassed 1,000 yards passing in only his fourth game. “And Jordan is 6-6, so he makes a great target.”
Baker coach Ron Lepper said his team did play hard, as always.
“Nooksack played well and kept things moving,” Lepper said. “We competed hard, but we couldn’t make up some some mistakes.”