The battle between Class 1A squads Meridian and Lynden Christian was always going to come down to who made the least mistakes.
That team happened to be Meridian, who topped the Lyncs 27-10, on Friday, Sept. 26, at Meridian High School.
“It was very important to establish what our team is going to become by the postseason,” Meridian defensive back Dalton Biehle said. “Team chemistry was great today. Everyone contributed.”
It wasn’t that Meridian (3-1, 1-0 NWC) didn’t make mistakes. The Trojans surely did. Two Tanner Tutterrow second-half interceptions could have doomed the home squad.
But the Trojans did something the Lyncs (3-1, 0-1 NWC) could not — capitalize on the opponent’s mistakes.
The Trojans seemed to capitalize with perfect timing all game long. Every single time LC gained momentum, it was stripped away — or given away if you choose to look at it that way.
“We just gave it away,” LC coach Galen Kaemingk said. “We got nobody to blame but ourselves.”
It started on the Lyncs’ first possession. LC had come out fired up, forced Meridian back 11 yards – yes, the Trojans had -11 yards on the first three plays from scrimmage – on the first possession of the game and sat with excellent field position on the Trojans’ 47-yard line.
They even got the Trojans to jump offside on the first snap. Four plays later, on a 4th-and-2, Lucas Roetcisoender gifted the ball to Biehle, who took it 70 yards for the score. Roetcisoender ended the night with 146 passing yards on six completions on 16 passes.
All of a sudden, 7-0 Trojans advantage.
“He dropped to where he was supposed to be,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “You do your job.”
The Lyncs drove down the field and had 3rd-and-goal from five yards out. Oh wait, the Lyncs don’t want that. Take the false start to move five yards back and the Lyncs now have 3rd-and-goal at the 10.
A fade to Alex Vander Velden worked perfectly and Roetcisoender had a beautiful throw to Vander Velden’s hands but it fell straight through. A field goal attempt on fourth down went wide and the Lyncs blew it again.
A stingy LC defense held the Trojans offense down in time for LC to get the ball back before the end of the first quarter and the Lyncs scored their only touchdown of the game – a bubble screen to Nathan Rusnak, who took it 63 yards to the house. Cody Fransen hit the extra point to tie it 7-7 at the end of the first.
Meridian countered at the end of the second quarter, when Dakota Jones took a pass from Tutterrow, broke two tackles and bounced into the end zone for the 31-yard score.
A Meridian onside kick to begin the first half failed and the Lyncs appeared set to score before two sacks on Roetcisoender forced a turnover on downs.
“We didn’t protect him,” Kaemingk said. “We had a lot of breakdowns up front.”
Two plays later, Tutterrow threw his first of two picks and the Lyncs converted with the good field position when Fransen knocked a 29-yard field goal in to make the game 13-10.
It was all Meridian from there. Nick Dritsas scored on a 17-yard run to make it 20-10 with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lyncs hoped for a late comeback after Rusnak converted a fake punt on 4th-and-long by running around the left side and sidestepping a couple defenders before being ripped to the ground by his facemask drawing the 15-yard penalty on the end of the play.
But a bobbled snap gave Meridian back the ball two plays later. It was all but over for the Lyncs, who also saw their quarterback hurt on the next possession after taking a hard hit. He did not return to the game and was replaced by Colby Flint, who also threw a pick-six.
The Trojans play Mount Baker Friday, Oct. 3, in Deming. The Lyncs play Nooksack Valley on Friday in Everson.
Mer. — Dalton Biehle 70 interception return (Joel Eschbach kick)
LC — Nathan Rusnak 63 pass from Lucas Roetcisoender (Cody Fransen kick)
Mer — Dakota Jones 31 pass from Tanner Tutterrow (kick fail)
LC — Fransen 29 FG
Mer — Nick Dritsas 17 run (Eschbach kick)
Mer — Kevin Castro 40 interception return (Eschbach kick)
RUSHING — Lynden Christian: Jordan Jansen 15-57, Blake Mellema 4-34, Lucas Roetcisoender 7-3, Nathan Rusnak 2-27, Jake Van Berkum 2-6, Colby Flint 2-(-4). Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 8-12, Kevin Castro 3-1, Dakota Jones 10-51, Dalton Biehle 2-3, Nick Dritsas 7-36.
PASSING — Lynden Christian: Lucas Roetcisoender 6-16-2-116, Colby Flint 1-5-1-15. Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 10-19-2-96.
RECEIVING — Lynden Christian: Nathan Rusnak 4-87, Alex Vander Velden 2-26, Kaden Bratt 1-18. Meridian: Dakota Jones 3-43, Marcus McGuinn 2-27, Nick Miller 2-14, Cody Bachman 1-0, Dalton Biehle 1-6, Kyle Young 1-6.