Lynden coach Blake VanDalen played a hunch with senior Brendan Kleindel and received the blocked kick the Lions needed to help preserve a spot in the Class 2A state playoff semifinals.
With 5:42 to play, Kleindel got his left hand on Tumwater’s attempt to tie the game with an extra point.
When Tumwater tried a game-winning, 22-yard field goal with 16 seconds left, the kick went wide left under pressure from Kleindel and Lynden (11-0) held on for the 28-27 win in a pressure-packed quarterfinal Saturday at Civic Stadium.
The No. 3-seeded Lions will play Saturday at 1 p.m. at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium against No. 7 Fife, which shocked previously unbeaten and second-seeded Black Hills, 14-0.
“That was my first game on the kick blocking team,” said Kleindel, who is in his first season as a regular in the defensive backfield. “I came very close on the three previous kicks (after Tumwater’s first three touchdowns), and I came close on that field goal attempt.”
Kleindel played only on special teams last year in Lynden’s 23-21 loss to the Thunderbirds in the opening round. Like all the players who participated last year, he hungered for redemption.
He was just grateful to be given a special way to earn it.
“We noticed that Brendan had the third-best mark in school history on our I-test,” VanDalen said of a test of lateral movement for five yards in both directions. “We saw something on film (about Tumwater’s blocking scheme on conversions) and made a change.”
The Lions led 28-14 at the half, scoring a season-high against Tumwater, but the T-Birds (10-2) held Lynden scoreless in the second half.
Senior quarterback/receiver James Marsh helped produce all four touchdowns. Marsh caught a touchdown pass from alternating quarterback/receiver Brock Heppner, threw for a score, and ran for two touchdowns.
The Lions never trailed. Marsh ran for a 1-yard score and caught Heppner’s 11-yard touchdown pass, both in the first quarter. Marsh scored from the 6 in the second quarter and threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Kobe Elsner with 44 seconds left in the first half.
Marko Samoukovic kicked all four extra points, running his season total to 43 of 44
Marsh completed 12 of 19 passes for 162 yards and ran 19 times for a team-high 72 yards.
“Our offensive line was amazing,” said wide receiver Grant VanderYacht, who caught six passes for 90 yards. Elsner caught three for 55 yards.
“It was a crazy ride tonight,” said Cooper Brown, a senior line leader, amid a raucus celebration with friends and parents.
Heppner and Marty Karb recovered fumbles on Tumwater’s first two drives, setting up Lynden’s first two scoring drives.
After that, Tumwater’s depth-laden running game nearly prevailed. The T-Birds who came in averaging nearly 41 points per game, amassed 371 yards rushing on 59 carries, including 148 on 19 tries by Dylan Loftus and 109 on 17 runs by sophomore Turner Allen, whose 8-yard touchdown scamper cut Lynden’s lead to 21-14 in the second quarter. A short time later Elsner’s leaping scoring grab made it 28-14.
Kaden Mayberry and Payton Scott made vital stops on the T-Birds’ last drive, which nonetheless began at the Tumwater 48 with four minutes to play and ended at the Lynden 5 with the missed field goal.
“We worked incredibly hard in the off-season,” Kleindel said of his memories of the aftermath of last year’s state loss to the T-Birds.
“Everyone is so close,” Elsner said. “We really like to hang out with each other and we really have each other’s back.”
In the other quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Liberty eliminated Ellensburg 21-10 and top-seeded Hockinson ousted Steilacoom 35-28.
In other Saturday quarterfinals:
Lynden Christian 45, Hoquiam 6: The sixth-seeded Lyncs advanced to their first 1A state semifinal since 2002 as junior quarterback Trajan Schouten completed 17 of 27 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns on the road to hand the Evergreen Conference champion and third-seeded Grizzlies (10-1) their first loss. The Northwest Conference 1A co-champion Lyncs (10-2), riding a five-game win streak, will play Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lions Field in Moses Lake against Newport, which beat Zillah 7-6. Schouten connected for scores of 8 yards to Sam Faber and 3 yards to Jackson Corkill, and Faber ran for a 1-yard touchdown for a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Jaden Apol led the Lyncs with six catches for 118 yards. Schouten wrapped it up with scoring throws of 22 yards to Jackson Corkill and 3 yards to Faber. Levi Korthuis led LC with 69 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored on 10-yard run, helping coach Dan Kaemingk’s Lyncs amass 364 total yards. Easton Stremler added 46 yards on 12 carries by . LC’s only second-half scoring was a 20-yard field goal by Blake DeRuyter, who also kicked all six conversions. Hoquiam’s star senior quarterback, Payton Quintanilla, was forced out in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
Colville 42, Meridian 22: Senior quarterback Dawson Logan completed 16 of 32 passes for 250 yards and touchdowns of 17 yards to Kevin Galiano and 2 yards to Cameron Webster for the Trojans (8-4), who reached to the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year. But the fifth-seeded Indians (9-2) won their ninth in a row since a 27-14 non-league loss to the Trojans and limited fourth-seeded Meridian to 28 net yards on 23 runs, including six sacks of Logan. Meridian’s only double-digit runs were an 18-yard touchdown by Cole Roberts, cutting Colville’s second-period lead to 20-14, and a 20-yard scramble by Logan, who finished with more than 3,000 yards total offense. It was the former receiver’s only season at quarterback. Josh Neeter led Meridian with 69 yards on three catches and Webster caught five for 59 yards. Colville had 273 yards rushing and 123 passing and claimed a 35-14 lead in the third quarter on a 74-yard pass-run play from John Knight to Jake Lindquist. Grant Michaliszyn had a game-high 115 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Colville will play in the semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m. at Moses Lake against defending state champion Royal.
Royal 55, Mount Baker 6: Top-seeded Royal won its 52nd in a row overall and 50th consecutive home game. The ninth-seeded Mounties (8-5) cut their early deficit to 13-6 with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Mason Jacoby to Kobee Malone early in the second quarter. It was the ninth time this season that the Knights have scored at least 55 points. Including Baker’s touchdown, they have allowed only 33 points.