It was the marquee game on the schedule and, for Blaine, an opportunity to shake off years of frustrating losses to 2A rival Lynden. The Borderites seemed poised to do it with their prodigious rushing attack having already compiled 525 yards and 10 touchdowns for tailback Mario Gobbato in the season’s first two games.
However, the Lions also read the considerable press about Blaine’s offensive line and reminded the Borderites why they are the perennial favorite in the Northwest Conference (NWC). Playing with enormous intensity, Lynden scored six times on their way to a 38-0 halftime lead as the Lions dealt the Borderites a crushing 45-19 NWC home loss Friday, September 16.
Lynden’s front seven were up to the task of handling Gobbato and the offensive line of Blaine. Stunting and swarming to the ball, the Lions forced two Blaine punts, two turnovers on downs and an interception by freshman quarterback Nathan Kramme in the first half. They bottled up Gobbato with fierce, sometimes chippy, gang-tackling, holding him to 57 yards on 17 carries by halftime.
“They did some things we weren’t expecting,” Kramme said, after starting his first varsity game only three weeks into his high school career. “They’re a good team.”
Kramme finished with 4 of 6 passing for 20 yards and also scored a second half touchdown on a one-yard run. Gobbato rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown.
While Lynden’s defense rose to the occasion, the Lions’ offense, led by junior quarterback Josh Kraght, continued to run on all cylinders, exposing the Borderite defense’s inability to play in space. Kraght passed for 173 yards and three first half touchdowns. Blaine gave up five passes for more than 20 yards to wide open receivers, as defensive backs bit hard on Kraght’s pump fakes and play actions. Kraght also rushed for a second half touchdown. Caleb Newman added two rushing scores for Lynden.
Lynden opened the scoring with 7 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first period when Kraght hit Dak Shagren with a 10-yard score set up by Kyle Hanson’s 48-yard run on the Lions’ first play from scrimmage. The onslaught would continue unabated as Lynden scored on every possession in the first half. Santiago Lopez, who kicked two field goals in the game, made it 10-0 with 3:36 left in the opening stanza. Early in the second quarter, Shagren struck again for Lynden, taking a short pass 73 yards, which Newman converted for his first touchdown and a 17-point lead at 11:24 in the second quarter. He then scored his second touchdown with 5:04 remaining in the half. Kraght would take advantage of Blaine’s sputtering offense to throw two more touchdowns in the half, including a painfully easy 24-yarder to Nate Wielenga.
For Blaine, it is essentially back to square one. With a 1-2 record (1-1 in the NWC), the Borderites must travel to 3A power Ferndale, themselves reeling from an unaccustomed two-game losing streak, falling to Arlington 44-27 in a contest not as close as the score indicates. It is likely the Golden Eagles will be angry and motivated when they meet the Borderites at 7 p.m.on Friday, September 23, at Ferndale High School.