Nooksack Valley celebrated Homecoming on Friday, Oct. 9, but Meridan took home the victory with a 49-28 Class 1A Northwest Conference win.
An opening three-and-out by the Pioneers forced them to punt, Meridian’s Simon Burkett broke loose for a 42-yard touchdown to quickly cap off a five-play, 65-yard drive. Nikolas Dritsas converted the two-point conversion with a run to put the Trojans up 8-0.
The Trojans never looked back. Alan Eyoub scored on a 22-yard pass from Burkett and then immediately returned an interception of Nooksack’s Casey Bauman 56 yards for another score. An early injury to Nooksack Valley starting running back Colton Kautz didn’t help the Pioneer’s cause as they went into halftime trailing 27-0.
After the break the Pioneers got on the board when Joe McNeely ran in for a 9-yard score and then also converted for two on another run. The Pioneers were unable to produce much more offense than that until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Meridian methodically drove down the field and produced their final score of the night on a 5-yard run by Dakota Jones.
Trailing 49-14, the Pioneers made a switch at quarterback and put in freshman Austin O’Bryan. This produced a spark for the Pioneers as they were able to quickly move down the field and score on a 8-yard run by O’Bryan. After an onside-kick recovery, O’Bryan again led the Pioneers down the field, scoring on a 34-yard pass to fellow freshman Evan Neitling.
Meridian ended all hopes of a Nooksack Valley comeback on the ensuing kick recovery. With many of the first team players taken out of the game, Meridian ran out the clock.
“Both teams played hard,” said Meridian’s coach Bob Ames after the game. “Those guys are gonna knock some of us off this season.”
Meridian will play Lynden Christian next week. Nooksack Valley will play Mount Baker for the second time this season.
Meridian -- Simon Burkett 42 run (Nikolas Dritsas run for 2)
Meridian – Alan Eyoub 22 pass from Burkett (Eyoub kick good)
Meridian – Eyoub 56 interception from Casey Bauman (Eyoub kick no good)
Meridian – Dritsas 19 pass from Burkett (2 pt fail)
NV – Joe McNeely 9 run (McNeely run for 2)
Meridian – Burkett 11 run (Dritsas run for 2)
Meridian -- Marcus McGuinn 5 pass from Burkett (Eyoub kick good)
NV – Kyle Veldman 12 pass from Bauman (2 pt fail)
Meridian – Dakota Jones 5 run (Alex Klykov kick good)
NV – Austin O’Bryan 8 run (2 pt fail)
NV – Evan Neitling 34 pass from O’Bryan
RUSHING — Meridian: Nikolas Dritsas 20-136, Simon Burkett 6-139, Tony Schleimer 9-70, Dakota Jones 2-5, Koby Smith 1-5, Marcus McGuinn 1 – (-1), Bryce VandenHaak 1-2. Nooksack Valley: Casey Bauman 10-24, Joe McNeely 9-20, Austin O’Bryan 3-24, Colton Kautz 2-12.
PASSING — Passing – Meridian: Simon Burkett 8-16-3-93. Nooksack Valley: Casey Bauman 18-26-1-126, Austin O’Bryan 2-3-1-91.
RECEIVING — Receiving: Meridian: Nikolas Dritsas 2-27, Dakota Jones 2-29, Alan Eyoub 2-29, Marcus McGuinn 1-5, Andrew Logan 1-21, Daniel Young 1-9. Nooksack Valley: Kyle Veldman 8-54, Michael O’Bryan 4-96, Evan Neitling 1-34, Tre Silva 3-11, Michael Jackson 2-18, Joe McNeely 2-18.