DEMING - From Mount Baker’s standpoint, the only thing prettier Friday night than the Mountaineers’ beautiful new natural sod field was Carson Brandland’s first fulltime shot at running back.
Brandland, long an established defensive standout, could hardly believe he carried 21 times for 169 yards and touchdowns of 22 and 36 yards in ninth-ranked Baker’s 29-12 homecoming win over tenth-ranked Nooksack Valley.
Both the Mountaineers (5-2 overall, 2-2 Class 1 Northwest Conference) and Brandland showed just how competitive the four-team 1A league is Baker displayed its improvement since their 26-14 loss to the Pioneers (4-3, 1-4) in Week 4.
“I’ve always wanted to be a (fulltime) running back,” said Brandland, who had seven double-digit runs. “Ever since I was a Baker ball boy in seventh and eighth grade. “I can hardly believe this.”
Brandland scored on his 36-yard run in the last second of the third quarter, making it 22-6 with an extra point by Roberto Garcia, who booted a 34-yard field goal for a 9-0 lead in the second quarter.
“Great block, great block,” coaches on the sideline shouted when junior lineman Logan Sanday’s cruncher helped spring Brandland, who confirmed it was indeed a “great block.”
Brandland scored from the 22 with seven seconds left in the first half as junior Kaleb Davis skillfully managed tight situations in the middle two quarters. He started in place of Sam Bradford, who was injured last week against Meridian.
ENGHOLM SCORES TWO
Third-year senior running back Carson Engholm scored Baker’s first touchdown on a 6-yard run, capping a 76-yard, 14-play drive in the opening quarter.
With 2:22 left in the fourth period, Engholm fought remarkably hard to score Baker’s game-clinching touchdown on a 3-yard run. Engholm finished with 85 yards on 19 carries
Nooksack quarterback Casey Bauman, who was sacked six times, still managed touchdowns of 1 and 3 yards in the second half and never stopped battling.
Austin O’Bryan, the only Whatcom County player in the top 10 in rushing and receiving, finished with 85 yards rushing, 59 on a run that set up Bauman’s first score, and 70 yards receiving. Jordan Veening caught six passes for 78 yards from Bauman, who finished 18 for 30 for 217 yards.
“Any win in this league is a great win,” Baker coach Ron Lepper said. “I’m excited by how hard we played (after last week’s loss to Meridian). “Brandland ran like a man possessed.”