Bob Ames nailed it when he described the retro football feeling of Meridian’s pulse-pounding 21-14 last-minute comeback win over Nooksack Valley.
“That was almost like a single-wing game, wasn’t it?” the coach asked after seeing his Trojans rally for two dramatic fourth-quarter touchdown drives to claim their Northwest Conference Class 1A opener Friday.
The teams definitely played good old country football in throwback style, but it only felt as if they were playing single wing – an offense popularized in the 1940s and 1950s when the center usually snapped the ball directly to a tailback.
The direct snap later became known as the shotgun formation with regard to quarterbacks and much later as the wildcat when running backs receive the ball that way.
But it was a throwback thriller, indeed, the way the talented first-year senior quarterbacks for the Trojans (3-1, 1-0) and Pioneers (3-1, 0-1) took mostly direct snaps while combining to run 40 times and to pass 43 times for combined totals of 231 yards passing, 223 yards rushing and 454 yards total offense.
Meridian’s Dawson Logan ran 12 times for 81 yards, including a game-winning 3-yard rollout with 1 minute and 16 seconds to play for the winning score. Logan completed 11 of 26 passes for 126 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Galiano to produce a 14-all tie early in the final quarter.
Nooksack Valley’s Austin O’Bryan ran 28 times for 142 yards, including touchdowns of 16 and 13 yards to produce a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter, and finished 7 for 17 passing for 105 yards.
Logan was grateful for all the help he got. He praised well-known senior running backs Cole Roberts (16 carries for 92 yards) and Dylan Hickok (seven second-half carries for 42 yards) for vital gains.
“Cole and Dylan are grinders and that’s the way we won with them tonight, grinding away,” Logan said.
That was especially true on the game-winning drive, when Logan, Roberts and Hickok combined for 13 runs for 49 yards, with not a single run longer than nine yards.
Logan — that’s right, the quarterback — set up the winning drive with a 26-yard punt return. He also played on the kickoff return team and at safety, where he made Meridian’s only interception. Meanwhile, O’Bryan played inside linebacker, giving standout Cooper Clawson needed help, and also played on kick returns.
Think those two gritty converted quarterbacks aren’t throwbacks?
O’Bryan wasn’t ready to concede in the last minute. He passed 10 yards to Scout Whittern and ran 13 yards to the Meridian 28-yard line before two unsung juniors provided crucial heroics for the Trojans with 25 seconds to go.
Cameron Webster forced a fumble and Trent Martin, in his first start, alertly jumped on the ball to clinch the win.
Another Meridian junior, 6-foot-2½ Trent Gookstetter, leaped to adroitly grab Logan’s improvised two-point conversion pass in the second quarter following Logan’s 1-yard run for Meridian’s first touchdown.
“I heard ‘fire’ (shouted by Logan when the conversion snap bounced and prevented a kick) and just ran out and did my job,” Gookstetter said, to which Logan confirmed, “Trent did everything perfectly.”
“I’m really proud of him,” Ames said of Gookstetter. “It’s been a tough week for Trent since he lost his grandfather, Chuck Crnich, who was a real friend of Meridian football.”
Logan, who was related to Crnich by marriage, appreciated that quality.
“A lot of us went to his funeral to show our love for him,” Logan said.
O’Bryan looked as though he will help guide Nooksack to its share of wins. He completed passes of 25 and 14 yards to Halston Boersema and 22 yards to Whitttern on the first scoring drive. O’Bryan set up his second scoring dash with a 33-yard pass to Tyler Rawls. Boersema’s end-zone interception near the end of the first half possibly prevented a touchdown.
Galiano led all receivers with six catches for 74 yards.
“I’m proud of the way both teams played,” Ames said. “The fans sure got their money’s worth.”
Dawson Logan, Meridian, rushed for 81 yards and scored twice, and passed for 126 yards including an 18-yard scoring pass to Kevin Galiano in a 21-14 win over Nooksack Valley. Brock Heppner, Lynden, moved from receiver to quarterback in the fourth quarter, scored on a 3-yard run and threw a game-winning 15-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Elsner to beat Archbishop Murphy 24-21. Trajan Schouten, Lynden Christian, passed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and led the Lyncs to 20 fourth-quarter points to overcome a 20-8 deficit at Mount Baker. Gader Fox, Ferndale, ran for 144 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-34 loss at Arlington.
In other Friday games
Lynden 24, Archbishop Murphy 21: Brock Heppner threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Kobe Elsner with little more than a minute left, giving the host Lions (4-0, 1-0) an NWC 2A Sky Division opening win over Archbishop (1-2, 0-1), which now trails 4-3 in the decade-long series. Heppner took over for quarterback James Marsh, who sustained a concussion near the goal line, and Heppner then scored on a 3-yard run to pull the Lions within 21-17. Marsh and rushing leader Steven DiLorenzo, who pulled a hamstring early after two rushes for 16 yards, are out indefinitely. Lynden scored in the first half on Marsh’s 66-yard pass to Grant VanderYacht, who caught five for 89 yards, and on Marko Samoukovic’s 32-yard field goal. Samoukovic, who hasn’t missed a kick, made the difference with three conversion kicks, while inside linebackers Preston King and Bodie Human had 13 and 9 tackles, respectively. Marsh completed 5 passes for 108 yards and Heppner was 5 for 7 for 67 yards, while Dakota Baar caught two passes for 40 yards.
Sehome 25, Blaine 3: Sehome coach Kevin Beason was proud to see his defense hold the Borderites (2-2, 0-1) to 18 net yards on 25 rushes and to 96 yards passing on 29 attempts with two interceptions at Civic Stadium. Jacob Kaepernick completed 11 of 22 passes for 165 yards and one interception for the Mariners (2-2, 1-0), including scoring passes of 4 yards to Jay Travier and 23 yards to Michael McLin, who also made a 40-yard catch. Dylan Roberts rushed for 93 yards and a 1-yard touchdown and Dawson Smith added a 4-yard score while Brett Meggysey caught five passes for 36 yards and Melloy Nelson snagged a 50-yard throw.
Lynden Christian 28, Mount Baker 20: The Lyncs (4-0 1-0), who have already surpassed last year’s three wins, scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to rally from a 20-8 deficit against the host Mountaineers (2-2 0-1) in the other NWC 1A opener. LC’s final period scores were a 1-yard pass to Tanner Feenstra from junior quarterback Trajan Schouten; a 1-yard run by Levi Korthuis, giving the Lyncs a 21-20 lead; and a fumble recovery for a score by Jackson Corkill, who also scored LC’s first touchdown on a 50-yard pass from Schouten. Zach Sipma’s end-zone tackle for a safety accounted for LC’s first two points. Scouten finished 14 for 31 for 179 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns, with four passes to Jalen Apol for 43 yards and three to Corkill for 70 yards, while Korthuis rushed for 48 yards on 22 carries, giving the senior most of LC’s 65 yards on the ground. Baker’s highlights were not available.
Neah Bay 40, Lummi 34: Host Neah Bay snapped a 34-all tie in a Northwest League B-1 eight-man opener with a touchdown with about three minutes left. For Lummi (3-1, 0-1), Caleb Revey ran for more than 100 yards and two scores and threw touchdown passes to Justin Mahle, Jaie Leighton and Nathan Kiely. Leighton gained more than 100 yards receiving. “It was probably our worst game in at least 10 years, although our fourth-quarter defense was pretty good. We made too many mental mistakes. We need some leadership and the guys have to be accountable.”
Arlington 37, Ferndale 34: Gader Fox rushed 34 times for 144 yards and four touchdowns and Bryan Ebe ran 18 times for 133 yards, but Ferndale (1-3, 1-1) suffered a Wesco 3A North loss when host Arlington (3-1, 2-1) overcame a 34-22 deficit with two touchdowns in the final five minutes. Ferndale’s Sequoyah Julius completed 8 of 15 passes for 72 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Lupo.
Bellingham 30, Cedarcrest 15: Bellingham improved to 2-2, 1-0 in an NWC Lakes Division opener at Cedarcrest. No other information was provided.
Squalicum 49, Marysville-Getchell 0: Senior quarterback Spencer Lloyd scored on a career-long 84-yard run on his first carry and five more players added scores in a Wesco 3A North romp. Lloyd ran 18 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns, improving his season total to 659 yards on 90 carries for seven scores. The Storm (3-1, 2-1) intercepted five passes, including pick sixes of 32 yards by Devante Powell and 29 by Branden Powers, while Dedrick Mitchell scored on an 8-yard run, freshman Ben Schlenbaker tallied from 25 yards out, and Mason Lloyd scored on six conversions and a 12-yard run. Sophomore quarterback Mason Binning went 5 for 8 for 72 yards in the second half as the Storm had 400 total yards and limited Getchell to 180, including 32 rushing with linebacker Collin McEachran playing well.
Week 5 Schedule
Friday, Sept. 28
Naselle at Lummi, 5 p.m.
Squalicum at Meadowdale (at Edmunds Stadium), 5 p.m.
Nooksack at Lynden Christian, 7 p.m.
Mount Baker at Meridian, 7 p.m.
Bellingham at Blaine, 7 p.m.
Mountlake Terrace vs. Sehome at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.
Ferndale at Oak Harbor, 7 p.m.
Lynden at Lakewood, 7 p.m.