The playoff picture for the double-A Northwest Conference got a lot tighter as Blaine dropped a close road game to Burlington-Edison last Friday.
Burlington running back Mikey Sanchez found Blaine’s defense sitting on its hands as he scampered through the line and 41 yards downfield for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 31-28. A last effort by Blaine fell inches short of a first down on a fourth and 11, and the game fizzled to an anti-climactic finish with Burlington’s quarterback taking a knee on the soggy gridiron. It was a long bus ride home for the Borderites, though the game had some good moments.
Blaine started strong with a long offensive series that ended with a failed fourth down conversion deep in the Tiger red zone. Blaine sacked tiger quarterback Chris Burt and on the next play took the ball back with an interception followed by a McCarty to Todd Bird touchdown pass to draw first blood.
That led to an embarrassing second quarter in which the Tigers outscored Blaine 24-7. First, a long Tiger runback after the Blaine touchdown was followed by a 44-yard scamper in which Tiger Cody Larson ran through Blaine’s defense completely untouched. The Borderites then fumbled the ball away in their next two possessions and watched as the Tigers got a field goal and a touchdown to make it 17-7.
Blaine followed that with a good offensive series that nearly went awry when a pass bounced off Todd Bird’s hands only to be caught by an alert Al Bohnson following close behind. Trevor Chau caught an eight yard pass and the kick made it 17-14 Burlington.
But the wheels came off again on Blaine’s kick-off when Achilles Wynn took advantage of a bunched-up Blaine defense and sailed 91 yards down field to paydirt and a halftime score of 24-14 Burlington.
It was so wet that night you could hear some old guy nailing his ark together during halftime at rainy Kirkby Field, a cold outpost by the freeway that makes Siberia look charming. Maybe that’s why they’re called the Tigers.
Blaine came out renewed in the second half, though, holding Burl-ington twice after giving up the ball first on Blaine’s lone interception and on downs the second time, giving the Tigers the ball on Blaine’s 22.
A sack was followed by a great defensive effort by Todd Freeman, who blocked the great Tiger kicker Andrew Furney’s field goal attempt. Caleb Statham, who rushed for 167 yards, then got two touchdowns in a row, the first on a 36-yard run and, after forcing another Tiger fumble, on a 50-yard sprint through the center of the Tiger line to make it 28-24 Blaine going into the fourth quarter, a lead that was too quickly surrendered minutes later as Larson pitched out to Sanchez who ran like a lizard on a hot rock for the winning score.
Blaine got the edge in stats on the evening, with 15 first downs to Burlington’s seven, 204 yards rushing to Burlington’s 194 and a lopsided 122 yards passing to Burlington’s seven.
Besides Statham’s 167 yards, David Craig rushed the times for 10, Tusapa Laolagi four for 12 and Al Bohnson six times for 21 yards. On the receiving end, Trevor Chau caught two for 17 yards and a touchdown, Todd Bird got seven for 70 yards and a touchdown, David Craig caught two for seven yards and Al Bohnson got two, one the hard way, for 28 yards.
By losing, Blaine (now 3-2 in class, 4-3 overall) dropped into a tie for third place in the league with Mt. Baker.
With two games left the season could well end with a three-way tie for second place that presents a number of play-off scenarios, none of them easy and many of them involving coin flips, Kansas City Tiebreakers, even voo-doo dolls, according to athletic coordinator Steve Miller, who added, “The dolls have lunch buckets, which we see as a good thing.”
The schedule seems to favor Blaine, who plays 0-7 Sehome here Friday night October 23 and 1-6 Bellingham at
Civic Field on Thursday night October 29 at 5 p.m. Burlington must still play Lynden and trust me, God will forgive you if just this one time you root for the Dutchmen.
Northwest Conference victory!
Junior mid Emily Flint dribbles through a block by Nooksack's middle linebacker in Tuesday’s 3 to 0 win at home