Having a 6-foot-7 athletic red-zone target to throw to makes gambling deep in opponents territory more like a sure bet.
Lions wideout Scooter Hastings’ size offers quarterback Sterling Somers a luxury few other teams in the state have.
And when Lynden found itself needing a big play against Sedro-Woolley on Friday, Oct. 24, on the road, the Lions went to their oversized play maker time-and-time again.
Hastings hauled in three touchdowns — one on fourth-and-goal and one on third-and-goal, but none was more important than when the Lions opted to pass instead of trying a field goal just inside Sedro-Woolley’s red zone with 3 seconds remaining in the first half.
Hastings hauled in the fade route from Somers just beyond the front-right pylon, giving No. 4 Lynden (7-1, 5-1 NWC 2A/3A) a game-defining play the Lions built on to earn a 33-30 Northwest Conference win over the previous unbeaten No. 5-ranked Cubs (7-1, 5-1).
“We were going to go field goal,” Kramme said, with Lynden leading 17-15 at the time. “I forgot the exchange of words, but we figured since Scooter is such a tough cover, let’s go ahead and lob one up there and see what happens. ... That was probably the play of the game right there.”
Hastings compiled 111 receiving yards with his three-TD performance, but he was just one piece to the Lions’ dynamic passing attack that left the top defense in the NWC looking for answers all night.
Somers completed 19 of 30 passes for 360 yards and three scores. He also ran for a team-high 59 yards on 18 carries. Jordan Wittenberg caught a team-best seven passes for 166 yards, and Jonathan Whetnall added four receptions for 62 yards.
Quite impressive given Sedro-Woolley entered the game giving up an average of 80.9 passing yards and 8.7 points per game.
“The receivers and I are really close, and we work on it a lot,” Somers said. “We knew we had to step up, because Trent’s (Postma) out, and I think we answered the call.”
The win, which gives the Lions the inside track to claiming the league title, comes a week after the Lions suffered their first loss in 34 games.
Somers said the 37-35 home defeat to Ferndale was plenty motivation for this week.
“We were fired up after the loss,” he said. “That was not the type of football we like to play, so I think we were all pumped up. The intensity was high all game. I’m just so proud of our guys.”
Sedro-Woolley, which flaunted its large array of talented backs and gave the Lions defense headaches most of the game, hung with Lynden the entire first half.
Lucas Petersen, who left early in the third with an ankle injury and didn’t return, put Lynden in front 7-0 with a 4-yard TD run early in the first quarter, but the Cubs’ Mason Elms countered with a 65-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
The Cubs again answered Lynden following a fourth-and-goal 3-yard TD pass from Somers to Hastings. Jacob Farrell got loose for a 38-yard score, and a two-point conversion put Sedro-Woolley in front 15-14 with 6:37 to go in the second quarter.
After a Per Wolfisberg 34-yard field goal gained the Lions the lead back, Lynden used a four-play, 64-yard drive with only 45 seconds left in the half to gain a 23-15 halftime lead. Hastings clutch grab on fourth down made Kramme’s gamble to pass rather than try a field goal with 3 seconds left on Sedro’s 16 the right call.
The Lions’ defense rose up in the second half, allowing Lynden to tack on 13 unanswered points to take a 33-15 lead with 8:57 to go in the fourth thanks to another Wolfisberg field goal and a third TD pass from Somers to Hastings.
The Cubs rallied late, cutting the Lions’ lead to 33-30 with 3:46 to go, but Lynden used its ground game behind a patchwork offensive line to gain first downs and seal the win.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Kramme of his team. “I’m just beaming inside. I don’t know if I show it outwardly, but these kids and their ability to battle and battle and find away, because that’s a really good team we beat tonight. They have some really good weapons.
Lyn — Lucas Petersen 4 run (Per Wolfisberg kick)
SW — Mason Elms 65 run (Chad Wilburg kick)
Lyn — Scooter Hastings 3 pass from Sterling Somers (Wolfisberg kick)
SW — Jacob Farrell 38 run (Elms run)
Lyn — Wolfisberg 34 field goal
Lyn — Hastings 16 pass from Somers (kick fail)
Lyn — Hastings 6 pass from Somers (Wolfisberg kick)
Lyn — Wolfisberg 22 field goal
SW — Quinten Roppel 7 pass from Devin Willard (Wilburg kick)
SW — Quinn Carpenter 1 run (Carpenter run)
RUSHING — Lynden: Sterling Somers 18-59, Lucas Petersen 9-50, Dalton Ohligschlager 7-25. Sedro-Woolley: Quinn Carpenter 17-103, Mason Elms 5-139, Jacob Farrell 4-79, Damian McDougle 4-27, Devin Willard 2-10, Jay Burger 1-9, Quinten Roppel 4-5, Bryce Hornbeck 2-0, Anthony Cann 1-1.
PASSING — Lynden: Sterling Somers 19-30-360-1. Sedro-Woolley: Devin Willard 5-10-25-0 .
RECEIVING — Lynden: Jordan Wittenberg 7-166, Scooter Hastings 6-111, Jonathan Whetnall 4-62, Trey Shagren 1-14, No. 99 1-7. Sedro-Woolley: Mason Elms 2-14, Quinten Roppel 1-7, Anthony Cann 1-5, Bryce Hornbeck 1-(-1).