BLAINE Ferndale found itself in an unfamiliar position losing the first two games of the season.
Desperation had yet to fully set in, the Golden Eagles turning around and playing with poise and purpose against Blaine on Friday, Sept. 19, at Blaine High School, staying true to their run-first game plan and wearing down the Borderites to the tune of 318 yards on the ground and a 33-14 win.
“We just tried to get back to our game a little bit,” Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich said, “and in the second half running the ball was working and our kids were getting physical, so we just wanted to stay with that and our guys did a great job executing.”
The Golden Eagles responded time and again, breaking out of a 14-14 tie at halftime to score three unanswered touchdowns in the second half — all of which came on the ground.
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It wasn’t just the offenses’ ability to create running room for sophomore tailback Ben Broselle and senior bruiser Marcus Nightingale, though. On defense, three consecutive 3-and-outs to start the third quarter left the Borderites in a hole the passing game couldn’t dig out of despite Ferndale’s willingness to tempt quarterback Nate Kramme to throw.
Kramme finished the game 9-of-21 passing for 101 yards, a TD and a late interception.
“We had our chances vertically in the passing game, but we struggled with that, too,” Blaine coach Jay Dodd said. “They were really daring us to go vertical. Their corners were up on top of us trying to be physical.”
The ground game is what ultimately defined this contest.
Neither team waited long to establish the grind-it-out tone reminiscent of an old-school brand of football. Ferndale just proved better at sustaining it, but it was Blaine that cast the opening punch when it marched down 70 yards on 10 plays — eight of which came on the ground — capped by a Kramme 8-yard pass to Josh Fakkema.
Ferndale didn’t hesitate.
The Golden Eagles promptly responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive of their own that tied the game up at 7 after Ben Broselle broke free from a few arm tackles for a 6-yard score.
Broselle, who finished with 76 yards and two scores on 10 carries, was seeing his first varsity action due to injuries. His shifty style of running complemented Nightingale, who was his typical workman-like self with 139 yards and two TDs on 23 carries.
“I saw my big lineman Chris Hernandez and just followed him through the hole,” said Broselle of his rushing touchdown in the first half. “I was super nervous my first carry, but right when I got the ball, I just saw a hole and took it.”
Ferndale-Blaine was quickly living up to the bruising matchup everyone expected when a Riley Fristch 2-yard score for the Borderites and a 1-yard Nightingale TD for the Golden Eagles left it even at 14 entering halftime.
Ferndale emerged from the locker room with more energy, especially on the defensive line, Dodd said, and the running game of Nightingale, Broselle and quarterback Kyler Schemstad started finding larger lanes to roam.
Back-to-back TDs by Broselle and Schemstad in the third distanced Ferndale’s lead to 26-14, Blaine having little success doing what it had done so well in the first half: run the ball.
“We came out sluggish and (our) offensive line got whooped a little bit,” Dodd said. “Those basic run plays we were using in the first half were going backward.”
Blaine did muster a drive down to Ferndale’s 30-yard line early in the fourth, but back-to-back dropped passes put Kramme in a 4th-and-long he couldn’t convert, ending the Borderites’ most dangerous possession in the second half.
Nightingale, in fitting fashion, pounded home a 1-yard score late in the fourth, losing his helmet in the process and all but ending Blaine’s hope for a comeback.
Blaine (2-1) heads down to face Sehome next Friday, Sept. 26, at Civic Stadium, while Ferndale (1-2) hosts a tough Burlington-Edison team the same day.
Blaine — Josh Fakkema 8 pass from Nate Kramma (Kyle Sentkowski PAT)
Ferndale — Ben Broselle 6 run (Andrew Higginson-Fernandez PAT)
Ferndale — Marcus Nightingale 1 run (Higginson-Fernandez PAT)
Blaine — Riley Fritsch 2 run (Sentkowski PAT)
Ferndale — Broselle run 3 (PAT no good)
Ferndale — Kyler Schemstad run 1 (PAT no good)
Ferndale — Nightingale 1 run (Higginson-Fernandez PAT)
BlaineFirst downs1813Rushing Att-yards51-31933-126Comp-Att-Int2-3-09-21-1Passing yards12101Penalties-yards5-44 5-25Fumbles-lost2-00-0
RUSHING — Ferndale: Marcus Nightingale 23-139, Austin Honeycutt 8-42, Ben Broselle 10-76, Justice Powell 1-1, Kyler Schemstad 5-53, Dalton Neer 1-1, Joshua Williams 1-4, Luke Scarborough 1-0, Jordan Cristelli 1-3. Blaine: Riley Fritsch 20-97, Kier Munzanreder 9-28, Nate Kramme 4-1.
PASSING — Ferndale: Kyler Schemstad 2-3-0-12. Blaine: Nate Kramme 9-21-1-101.
RECEIVING — Ferndale: Jacob Kildall 1-4, Ben Broselle 1-8. Blaine: Cody Gobbato 2-18, Josh Fakkema 2-16, Marcus Potts 2-20, Anthony Ball 2-44, Kier Munzanreder 1-3.