Big plays lead to homecoming win

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Honorary captain Ben Caro, with the BHS flag, leads the Borderites onto the field before the homecoming game October 9. Caro, who is on the athletic trainer’s staff for the football team, had surgery October 12 to treat scoliosis. His mother Rebecca reported Wednesday that the surgery went well and Ben is recovering. “We can’t express enough how grateful we are to the players on the team,” she said. “He had a lot of fun and it lifted his spirits before the surgery.” Photo by Janell Kortlever

The Borderites treated the home crowd to an action-packed nail biter in the homecoming game, grinding their way to a 35–28 win over Anacortes.

A few spectacular passes and equally spectacular catches in the second half spelled the difference for Blaine. The Borderites came back to take the lead with a 15-yard diving touchdown catch by Anthony Ball in the fourth quarter, before Anacortes evened the score at 28 apiece with an 80-yard touchdown pass. That’s when Blaine quarterback Jalen Kortlever threw another bullet, hitting Jonathan Starcer in stride 30 yards downfield, and Starcer outran two defenders another 30 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

“It was a fun game,” said Blaine head coach Jay Dodd. “I think we wish we could have won it a little easier, but it was kind of neat to have those big plays in the second half. A couple of the big plays were heading towards the homecoming crowd behind the end zone, so a lot of people got to see them.”

For the first half of the game, Anacortes made it clear the Borderites would have to work hard for a victory. The Seahawks marched the ball 90 yards for a touchdown on their opening series. Then, on Blaine’s first possession, Kortlever threw an interception that was run back for a pick-six.

“There was a breakdown on the front line and the receiver was a little off-route, so it wasn’t any one player’s fault,” Dodd said. “Kortlever did a good job shaking it off and focusing on what needed to be done.”

The Borderites broke onto the scoreboard in the first play of the second half, when Riley Fritsch ran it in from the 5-yard line. Fritsch would continue to be the Blainetrain’s main engine for most of the night, as both teams exchanged long, grinding possessions with mostly running plays. But both teams were effective in the air as well; Anacortes made a big pass play in the second quarter to set up a 24-yard field goal. Fritsch scored again later in the quarter on a 9-yard run, showing his impressive ability to beat the outside corner.

In the third, Blaine scored after a long running drive. Kortlever hit Ball with a 20-yard touchdown pass, and Kyle Sentkowski got the extra point to make the score 20–16 Blaine. Anacortes answered to take the lead, but the extra point was blocked, making it 22–20.

The fireworks began in the fourth quarter. Ball made a tremendous diving touchdown catch, then Kortlever earned two extra points with a QB sneak. Anacortes tied the game with a 65-yard passing touchdown, and missed the point-after attempt.

With multiple time-outs to spare, Blaine went into a two-minute drill. On the second play of the drive, Kortlever threw a laser-guided missile to hit Starcer in stride. Starcer outran two corners and scored in front of the huge crowd of cheering Borderites.

“We played better defense in the second half, and we felt more confident on offense,” Dodd said. “Our offensive line by far had their best night, and Riley [Fritsch] was able to run the ball the whole game. It was good to win a close game like this. Our upcoming games will probably come down to the fourth quarter, so it was good to have to fight for the win and perform under pressure to get the win.”

Fritsch ran for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Kortlever threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Ball caught for 79 yards and two touchdowns, and Starcer caught for 60 yards and a touchdown. Layton Hagee made two receptions for 21 yards.

Blaine will take on Burlington-Edison at home on Friday, October 16.

“They have some good athletes in the skills positions,” Dodd said. “We’re going to try and prevent the big plays on defense. On offense we’ll try and do both – run the ball and pass. The line had their best night against Anacortes, so hopefully we can build on that and continue to run good offense. It should be a good game.”

The game is a pink-out for breast cancer awareness, so all spectators are encouraged to wear pink clothing. The game begins at 7 p.m.

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