Getting caught up in the glitz and glamour of the Lions' big-play offense is easy, but it's what Lynden coach Curt Kramme didn't notice about his defense that speaks volumes.
The Lions' run defense the past few weeks leading up to the Class 2A State Playoffs has given up its share of yards, but against River Ridge, which owns one of the top scoring offenses in the state, Lynden's No. 1 defense impressed all night.
"They were awesome," Kramme said. "Nothing stands out in my mind, and that's probably a good thing, because that means we are doing our job. We really try to preach team defense."
River Ridge, which entered the opening-round of state averaging 41.9 points per game, didn't venture into Lynden's red zone until late in the third quarter when the game was well in hand and most of the Lions' No. 2s were in.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Lynden combined an inspired defensive performance, a welcome sign as the Lions begin their state run, with explosive, quick-strike offensive plays to earn a 41-21 rout over River Ridge Saturday, Nov. 15, at Civic Stadium in a game that was far more lopsided than the score indicated.
Lynden (10-1) is set to face Hockinson next in the Class 2A State Playoff quarterfinals. The Lions' win Saturday advanced all four 2A Northwest Conference teams (Lynden, Sedro-Woolley, Squalicum and Burlington-Edison) to the final eight.
The Lions' defense held both star River Ridge rushers, running back Michael Key and quarterback Kobe Key, under 50 yards apiece and Kobe struggled throwing the ball with an exception to short underneath routes.
"Defensively, we came out and knew the past couple games we have been having a tough time stopping the run," said Postma, Lynden's starting linebacker. "We knew we had to stop the run and get them into the passing game. We came out fired up, and our guys did awesome."
Lynden quarterback Sterling Somers finished 6 of 11 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and Trent Postma ran for a team-high 41 yards and two touchdowns and also recorded a pivotal first-half interception.
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Whetnall showed his big-play ability early, catching a 56 yard pass on Lynden's first play of scrimmage and added a 72-yard TD on the Lions' next drive. Jordan Wittenberg finished with three catches for 81 yards and a score, and backup QB Clark Hazlett ran for a touchdown and threw a 10-yard TD to Scooter Hastings.
And the Lions' points came fast and furious.
After Whetnall's 56-yard reception on the Lions' first play, Postma scored from 4 yards out, giving Lynden a 7-0 lead in two plays.
Again on the following possession, the Lions just needed two plays to score.
After a short run up to the Lions' 28, Somers dropped back to pass, pump-faked then threw a deep ball down the left side line that Whetnall had to come back for. The Lions wide receiver made the catch, evaded a few defenders and sprinted 45 yards for a 72-yard touchdown.
"We went empty right away," Kramme said. "They went man across, dared us to throw. It doesn't always work, but it did on the first play of the game, and then we hit Jonathan on a slant-and-go as well."
Postma pushed the Lions' lead to 21-0 with 8:34 to go in the second quarter, finishing off a seven-play, 57-yard drive with a 5-yard TD run. The standout senior also set up Lynden's next score, a Clark Hazlett 1-yard TD run, with an interception he returned to River Ridge's 9.
Hastings finished Lynden's 35-point first half, catching a 10-yard lob pass in the back-left corner of the endzone amid double coverage. The score put Lynden in front 35-0 with 0:57 left until the half.
Wittenberg got the running clock rolling early in the third with a 36-yard touchdown off an inside screen pass, and the rout was on.
Once Lynden's No. 2s entered the game, River Ridge scored three times but never truly threatened.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.