Whatcom County was blanketed with a coat of snow late Thursday, so the Nooksack Valley football team went south for warmer weather and a state playoff berth.
The Pioneers waltzed into Sultan’s home field and soundly beat the Turks 62-12 Friday, punching their ticket to state for the ninth time in school history and the first time in seven years.
Nooksack (6-4) recieves the Northwest District’s No. 3 seed to the 1A state playoffs and will travel to face the District 3 No. 1 seed next weekend.
The Pioneers’ best offensive option early was the legs of senior quarterback Casey Bauman. Bauman had multiple runs picking up first down yardage and capped Nooksack’s first scoring drive with a 1-yard run to make it 7-6 Pioneers.
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It was the first of three touchdowns for Bauman, who also threw for two. The Montana State commit kept the Turks’ defense off balance with a good mix of run and pass plays, before he pulled in the third quarter after rushing for a 60-yard score and putting Nooksack up 55-6.
Austin O’Bryan rushed for three TDs, all of which came in the first half.
In their five previous wins this year, the Pioneers have averaged 43.4 points – nearly double the 22.3 they averaged in their four losses.
With 36 seconds left in the first quarter, Nooksack recovered an onside kick, giving the Pioneers the ball in Sultan territory.
Bauman’s running ability set up the deep ball, as he connected with Jordan Veening on a 40-yard pass leading to O’Bryan’s second touchdown of the night on a 3-yard dash up the middle. It gave Nooksack a 20-6 lead with 10:28 in the second quarter.
Turks QB banged up
Sultan’s first-string quarterback, Brayden Haefele, didn’t suit up for the game, as he was dealing with concussion symptoms. The sophomore led the offense with 600 yards and four TDs passing and rushed for 210 yards – second on the team this year.