In a battle of Northwest Conference rivals and on a typical wet, windy and muddy Whatcom County night, teams will look to one or two players to make big plays when it matters.
As was the case for Meridian and Nooksack Valley in their Thursday, Oct. 30, matchup. When there was a big play that needed to be made, both teams looked to their Tanner. Myhre for Nooksack Valley, and Tutterrow for Meridian.
On the last play of the game, with 9 seconds on the clock, Meridian looked to Tutterrow for a big play from Nooksack Valley’s 31 with the Trojans trailing 22-14. In the heat of the moment, Tutterrow thrived.
Kyle Young, at six feet tall, ran a fade route all the way to the goal line as Tutterrow took a drop-back and looked to the end zone. He saw Young, in a one-on-one matchup with the 5-foot-10 Myhre, and launched a lob to his receiver. Young and Myhre jumped in the mud, but Young came down with the ball in the end zone to set up the game-tying two-point attempt.
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The Trojans ran a jet sweep, the same play Dakota Jones had scored on in the second quarter, but this time Myhre was ready.
“I knew it was coming my way,” Myhre said. “The second I saw that motion, I knew it. Same with that deep ball they threw for the touchdown. One-on-one, I knew they were going to throw there. I just wasn’t able to bat it down.”
Myhre read the motion perfectly and was able to stuff Jones’ sweep attempt at the 2-yard line to end the game and give the Pioneers a 22-20 victory in the regular season finale.
“Both groups of kids played hard,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “This is how football is supposed to be. Even in the slop, everybody made plays.”
But the loss did not eliminate Meridian from postseason play. Lynden Christian’s loss to Mount Baker ensured that the Trojans would be the second seed to the district crossover for the NWC. They will take on the first seed from the Cascade Conference’s 1A schools, King’s.
Meridian can hold solace in advancing, but Thursday night was all for the Pioneers and Myhre. He got his team started off on the right foot with a 53-yard passing touchdown to William Kingma on the first play from scrimmage.
Then on Meridian’s first series, Myhre picked off Tutterrow’s pass and ran it in 30 yards for the score to give his team an early 13-0 lead.
Meridian got back to basics in the second quarter with more smashmouth football. Nick Dritsas and Kevin Castro combined to make up the Trojans rushing attack, but it was a trick play that got the Trojans on the board.
On third-and-goal on the Nooksack Valley 5, Tutterrow handed the ball off to Dritsas who ran to the right for a sweep. But Dritsas handed the ball to Marcus McGuinn for the reverse and McGuinn looked for a pass. He found Tutterrow for a 5-yard touchdown.
After Jones took a jet sweep 71 yards for a touchdown later in the quarter, the Trojans were up 14-13 going into halftime.
The third quarter was all defense as the rain-soaked field made it hard for either team to get any offense going. Plus, the Pioneers were more adjusted to Meridian’s running attack.
“They had hurt us the first game we played on some dives,” Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre said. “Our ends have been really working on crashing down and taking that play away. They did a nice job of that, and taking that play away that was so successful last time.”
Nooksack Valley got a 24-yard field goal from Connor Beard as time expired in the third to take a 16-14 lead into the final quarter.
Nooksack Valley had two key fumble recoveries in the final quarter, one on a punt, and one to set up the drama at the end.
With 1:23 to play, Meridian looked to throw a screen play and get its receivers out in open space where the grass was a little more solid. But Tutterrow’s intended target bobbled the ball and it rolled backward, where Myhre fell on the ball to set his team up on the Meridian 40 with just over a minute to play.
Nooksack Valley tried a few running plays up the middle to run the clock down, but Ames used a pair of timeouts to stymie that strategy. On third down from the 39, Myhre found a big hole in the middle and outran the defense for a touchdown.
That score gave Meridian the ball back with less than a minute left and set up the final dramatic touchdown and extra point attempt.
Myhre finished 8-of-17 passing for 89 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 14 times for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown, and big plays on defense.
Dritsas led Meridian with 19 carries for 110 yards. Tutterrow was 5 of 11 for 81 yards passing with the final touchdown and an interception.
NV — William Kingma 53 pass from Tanner Myhre (Connor Beard kick)
NV — Myhre 30 interception return (kick failed)
Mer — Tanner Tutterrow 5 pass from Marcus McGuinn (Joel Escbach kick)
Mer — Dakota Jones 71 run (Escbach kick)
NV — Beard 24 field goal
NV — Myhre 39 run (kick failed)
Mer — Kyle Young 31 pass from Tutterrow (2 pt attempt failed)
RUSHING — Meridian: Nick Dritsas 19-110, Dakota Jones 1-71, Kevin Castro 14-30, Tanner Tutterrow 3-(-1). Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 14-72, Adam Mydland 11-47.
PASSING — Meridian: Tanner Tutterrow 5-11-1-81, Marcus McGuinn 1-1-0-5. Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 8-17-2-89.
RECEIVING — Meridian: Marcus McGuinn 3-27, Kyle Young 1-31, Tanner Tutterrow 1-5, Nick Miller 1-23. Nooksack Valley: Brady Wood 4-14, William Kingma 2-62, Adam Mydland 1-13, Connor Beard 1-0.