Squalicum coach Nick Lucey likened Ferndale’s defensive front to the New York Giants football team after the game. Fortunately, he’s got a pretty good group of defensive lineman, too.
For two teams who are used to racking up yardage and posting large numbers on scoreboards, Squalicum’s and Ferndale’s defenses shined in a matchup of the only unbeatens left in the Class 3A/2A Northwest Conference.
Every play was a battle, big kids, really big kids.
Squalicum defensive lineman Caleb Starkovich
Storm receiver Ben Peterson took a carry 9 yards around the right side into the end zone on a Statue of Liberty play to put Squalicum in front midway through the fourth quarter, and the Storm’s defense did the rest to earn a hard-fought 12-7 NWC win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Civic Stadium.
“This was the first game our offense hasn’t been able to do what we wanted to do for the most part,” Lucey said. “We had to find a different way to win, and our defense just played down-in, down-out, great football against a good physical team.”
Storm senior defensive lineman Caleb Starkovich described the game’s physical nature a different way.
“Every play was a battle, big kids, really big kids,” Starkovich said.
Triston Smith led the Storm’s run game with 41 yards on five carries, but his 36-yard, first-quarter touchdown run down the left sideline gave Squalicum a 6-0 lead. Ferndale’s defense limited Squalicum to 67 total rush yards.
Squalicum’s defense came up with crucial stops in pivotal moments. Starkovich and Jake Burns made several big plays, but none of the Storm defenders had an answer for Austin Honeycutt’s power running.
The bruising senior back piled up a game-high 140 yards on 20 carries and came out of the backfield to catch a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Hinson to give Ferndale a 7-6 lead with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
Squalicum (6-0, 4-0 NWC) was able to take advantage of some key Ferndale penalties and turned a Justice Powell fumble into the deciding touchdown. Peterson’s score with 6:33 left in the fourth gave the No. 4-ranked Storm a 12-7 advantage.
Ferndale (4-2, 3-1 NWC) had a great chance late to win the game, but a holding penalty put them behind the chains. Brian Pullman sacked Hinson to give Ferndale a fourth-and-goal on the 28. After a defensive penalty, the Golden Eagles had one more shot, but Jackson King couldn’t haul in Hinson’s pass.
“Jake and Caleb, we kind of designed what we wanted to do around those two guys,” Lucey said. “Just the motor they play with, we thought they’d give them fits."
Sq — Triston Smith 36 run (kick fail)
Fern — Austin Honeycutt 4 pass from James Hinson (Sam Boulos kick)
Sq — Ben Peterson 9 run (pass fail)
RUSHING — Ferndale: Austin Honeycutt 20-140, Justice Powell 12-60, James Hinson 8-46, Taylor Bellefeuille 2-12, Sky Freeman 1-0. Squalicum: Triston Smith 5-41, Damek Mitchell 5-14, Ben Peterson 4-7, Garrett Sorenson 9-5.
PASSING — Ferndale: James Hinson 7-17-1-85. Squalicum: Garrett Sorenson 14-30-1-155.
RECEIVING — Ferndale: Sky Freeman 3-31, Jacob Kildall 2-17, Justice Powell 1-33, Austin Honeycutt 1-4. Squalicum: Noah Westerhoff 6-57, Damek Mitchell 4-30, Ben Peterson 2-32, Darious Powell 1-14, Jake Burns 1-12.