Jacob Kaepernick came in with more than 2,000 yards passing and 21 touchdown tosses, but the sophomore quarterback was all for Sehome’s second-half tactic of running, running and more running.
The result was Sehome’s second pressure-packed comeback win in an eight-day span against Bellingham High, despite a vastly improved effort by the Red Raiders in the opening round of the Northwest District 2A playoffs Friday at Civic Field.
The Mariners’ 28-21 win eliminated Bellingham and moved Sehome into a winner-to-state game Friday, Nov. 2, at Archbishop Murphy.
When Kaepernick saw the degree of ferocity senior Dylan Roberts and junior Dawson Smith were putting into their running after halftime — not to mention how well and how aggressively the Red Raiders defended his passing in the first half — he knew Sehome’s ground game would be the answer.
“I threw only one pass in the second half and that wasn’t a good throw,” Kaepernick said “Brett Meggysey made a heck of a catch.”
Meggysey’s 24-yard gain helped set up Smith’s 3-yard touchdown burst on the first play of the fourth quarter, tying the battle at 21-all.
With about five minutes to play, Austin Roberts returned a punt 10 yards to Bellingham’s 40 yard line. After Smith’s runs of 15 and 20 yards, Dylan Roberts ran for 4 yards and a 1-yard touchdown, his third score of the night. Melloy Nelson added his fourth conversion kick and Sehome (6-3) was finally up 28-21 with 3:23 remaining.
The Mariners allowed only one first down on Bellingham’s final two possessions, and that was it.
Dylan Roberts finished with 141 yards on 30 carries, while Smith wound up with 102 yards on 16 carries.
“Dawson was just a beast, just unstoppable,” said Austin Roberts.
Smith appreciated how much confidence his teammates and coaches showed in him.
“That’s the most carries (and the most yards) I’ve had,” Smith said.
“It was a great win but we have to come out harder,” Smith said. “Dylan and I were feeling it (while rotating in the second half).”
The Red Raiders (5-4) did not seem the least bit intimidated by Sehome’s 54-27 win last week.
The result was Bellingham’s 21-7 lead at halftime Friday, similar to the 21-6 advantage Bellingham had in the first quarter last week, when Sehome’s overwhelming second-half comeback provided a Northwest Conference Lake Division title tie with the Red Raiders and Mountlake Terrace.
“My hat’s off to Ted Flint and his staff and players,” Sehome coach Kevin Beason said of Bellingham’s sheer effort.
Bellingham quarterback Morgan Cavalier threw only two passes in the first half out of the Red Raiders’ tight three-man backfield, but he found speedsters open behind everyone. Cavalier’s throws went for a 61-yard touchdown catch by Tim Edwards and a 65-yard scoring grab by Towner Goodman, both in the second quarter.
A leaping interception by Bellingham’s Jacob Hallock set up Goodman’s score. The next time Sehome had the ball, Trey Clayton’s pass theft against Kaepernick denied Sehome a possible touchdown in the final minute of the first half.
Bellingham’s first touchdown was a 5-yard run by Issac Ninneman, who helped set up his score with a 38-yard run and finished with 77 yards on 11 carries. Goodman finished with 10 carries for 56 yards.
Despite the two interceptions, Kaepernick finished 12 for 21 for 92 yards.
Beason received praise from staff and friends for guiding Sehome’s same-season football history — a playoff win over Bellingham after a vital league victory.
“Our staff members love the kids and they love the program,” said Beason, pointing out how well the Mariners, who have improved from 4-6 last year, were prepared to deal with adversity during the two wins over Bellingham.
Sehome finished with 334 total yards and Bellingham with 287, with 64 net yards in the second half. In the two memorable games combined, the Mariners had 866 yards and the Red Raiders had 621 for a grand total of 1,487 yards.
Friday’s stars (based on information received): Dylan Roberts, Sehome, rushed 30 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns in the Mariners’ 28-21 win over Bellingham; Jalen Apol, Lynden Christian, caught seven passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in the Lyncs’ 21-12 win over Meridian; Spencer Lloyd, Squalicum, accounted for 112 yards rushing and 207 passing and three scores in a 30-27 loss to Snohomish (details below).
In Thursday games:
Lynden Christian 21, Meridian 12: The Lyncs (7-2, 4-2 NWC 1A) gained a share of their first title since 2001 with the visiting Trojans (7-2, 4-2) as junior quarterback Trajen Schouten threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Jackson Corkill in the first quarter and 19 yards to Jalen Apol on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 21-6 lead when Blake DeRuyter kicked his third conversion. Schouten finished 13 for 26 for 193 yards, including seven passes to Apol for 119 yards, and Levi Korthuis rushed 25 times for 75 yards and a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Dawson Logan ran 14 times for 61 yards for Meridian, including a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and completed 17 of 39 passes for 167 yards and a 5-yard score to Kevin Galiano on the game’s final play.
Meridian will play a winner-to-state game at home to open the district playoffs Friday night against South Whidbey, while Lynden Christian will travel the same night to King’s.
“We talked all week about opportunity,” said LC coach Dan Kaemingk, whose team has improved from 3-6 last year to 7-2. “We got healthy and we got better.”
Nooksack Valley 19, Mount Baker 16: The Pioneers (4-5) pulled off the upset of the host Mountaineers (5-4, 3-3) and dropped Baker into an elimination game Tuesday at Granite Falls, with the winner advancing to face Bothell Cedar Park Christian on Saturday. Senior quarterback Austin O’Brien scored the game’s final points on a short run in the fourth quarter and Ty Rawls wrapped up the win with an interception in the final minute. Scout Whittern and Rawls scored on short passes from O’Brien and Mount Baker’s Jason Lee kicked a field goal and scored a key touchdown as the Mountaineers scored all their points in the second quarter for a 16-6 lead. Easton Zylstra and Whittern were credited with leading what coach Robb Myhre called “a great effort by our entire team.”
In other Friday games:
Snohomish 30, Squalicum 27: In a seeding battle between the 3A Wesco South and North champs, senior quarterback Spencer Lloyd accounted for more than 300 yards passing and rushing but the Storm (7-2) saw Snohomish (7-2) intercept a tipped pass in the end zone on Squalicum’s last drive. Lloyd ran 22 times for 112 yards and scores of 2 and 13 yards, and completed 10 of 22 passes for 207 yards. Ben Schlenbaker scored on a 15-yard run and receiver Dedrick Mitchell threw 37 yards to Steven Owens as the Storm built a 21-10 halftime lead at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I’m proud of the team,” said Storm coach Nick Lucey. “It was a well-fought game. We lost (two-way backfield standout) Devante Powell in the first quarter with an injury.” The Storm will face Central Kitsap (6-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Civic Stadium in a winner-to-state game.
Blaine 28, Mountlake Terrace 10: Wyatt Cole, a two-way line standout, had a sack on the game’s first play, blocked a field goal and “set the tone for the whole game,” said Blaine coach Jay Dodd, adding that linebackers Hudson Reid — who scored the clincher on a 21-yard interception return — and Mason Vega greatly helped the Borderites (5-4) atone for a 40-0 league loss to tri-champion Mountlake (5-4). Alex Mercado rushed 28 times for 176 yards and a 4-yard touchdown, while Oscar Caridad gained 61 yards on nine carries and sophomore quarterback Will McKinney scored on two sneaks and completed 8 of 15 passes for 81 yards as Blaine overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit. Blaine will play a winner-to-state elimination game against Sky Division champion Lynden (8-0) Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Civic Stadium.
Ferndale 56, Meadowdale 15: In an elimination game for the seventh and final Wesco 3A seed at district, the Golden Eagles (4-5) won their third in a row at Edmonds Stadium Their reward is an elimination game against defending state champion and top-rated Eastside Catholic (7-1). No other information was available.
Lummi 42, Darrington 26: The 1B Blackhawks (7-3 with two forfeit wins, 3-3) received 15 for 25 passing for 243 yards in sophomore Jordan Jackson’s first start at quarterback. Jackson threw three touchdown passes of 35, 22 and 20 yards to Nathan Kiely, all in the first half. Duncan Toby threw a lateral for a 67-yard score to Jermaine Toby, who was also in on 23 tackles. Tristian Revey rushed 12 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Miquel Ortiz had an interception and Crayton Williams made a key fumble recovery. The Blackhawks have a bye in Week Ten before taking on the winner between Crescent and Mary M. Knight for a berth at eight-man state.
Mount Baker at Granite Falls, 7 p.m. (elimination game)
Blaine at Lynden (at Civic Stadium), 4:30 p.m. (elimination game)
Central Kitsap at Squalicum (at Civic Stadium), 7:30 p.m. (elimination game)
South Whidbey at Meridian, 7 p.m. (elimination game)
Lynden Christian at King’s, 7 p.m. (elimination game)
Ferndale at Eastside Catholic, TBD
Mount Baker-Granite Falls winner at Cedar Park Christian, 7 p.m.