By Ian Ferguson
In their last game of the season, the Blaine football team carried a lead against county powerhouse Lynden into the fourth quarter, but came up short in the final minutes of the game.
The Borderites lost the October 30 away game 28–21, ending their season 2–5 in the Northwest Conference and 4–5 overall. Lynden sealed its sixth straight Northwest Conference 2A/3A title with the win, improving to 6–1 in conference and 8–1 overall.
Lynden scored first on a 4-yard pass a few minutes into the first quarter, and Blaine responded right away. Gunnar Arnason caught a tight end seam-route pass from quarterback Nathan Kramme, broke a couple of tackles and scored from 45 yards out.
The weather was rainy and windy, forcing both teams to rely heavily on run plays that kept the clock counting down. After the two scoring drives in the first quarter, the teams exchanged possessions before the Borderites marched to a first-and-goal on carries by Riley Fritsch.
An offside penalty lost them 5 yards, but the Borderites fought their way back to the 1-yard line. On fourth-and-one, Fritsch carried it up the middle, and although he wasn’t tackled, his forward progress was stopped just shy of the end zone.
“That was a big stop for Lynden. We needed some points there,” said Blaine head coach Jay Dodd.
Lynden rallied behind its defensive heroics, driving 99 yards to a touchdown. The Borderites were not discouraged, however, and they answered Lynden’s touchdown right away. Kramme made a 10-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Ball to tie the game 12 seconds before the half.
Blaine came out strong in the second half, forcing a three-and-out and then gaining the lead on a 6-yard touchdown run by Fristch. The Borderites maintained that lead into the fourth quarter, stunning a Lynden crowd that’s not used to losing at home – over the last five seasons, the Lions have won 24 out of 25 home games.
Lynden seemed to remember this fact in the fourth quarter, and fought hard to regain control. The Lions scored on a 4-yard pass, but Kramme blocked their extra point attempt. Kramme’s block preserved Blaine’s lead at 21–20, but after the Borderites received the kickoff, Lynden’s defense forced a quick three-and-out and the Lions regained possession.
With 50 seconds left in the game, Lynden scored on a 6-yard run, and a successful two-point conversion made it 28–21. Blaine fought hard to extend the final seconds of the game, but it wasn’t enough to even the score.
Dodd said the outcome was secondary to how his team played the game.
“The kids showed a lot of pride, and they showed who they are as people. A lot of high school teams, especially after coming off two hard losses and facing a team like Lynden, wouldn’t have played as hard as they did. Our kids played their tails off, and if a couple more plays had gone our way, we could have pulled it off. I’m really proud of all of them,” Dodd said.
Reflecting on the seniors who went out on a strong note despite the loss, Dodd said their contributions would be missed.
“Kramme has been our starting quarterback for the last four years, and he’s been extremely skilled at the position. His leadership is outstanding – people just seem to follow his lead no matter what,” Dodd said. “Our four senior offensive linemen will be hard to replace, and most of our defensive interior, including three defensive linemen and two inside linebackers, are great players who were integral to the team.”
Dodd said at least two seniors had the ability and desire to play at the college level – Jon Fakkema and Adam McShane, who were the strength and backbone of Blaine’s offensive and defensive lines this season.