Tumwater 23, Lynden 21

by Dave Weber

(Tumwater, WA)

Lynden High School daunting football history – eight state titles, a 59-19 all-time record in state playoff games – seemed to wash away this season.

The Lions finished the regular season 4-5 and had to rely on a tie-breaker RPI to reach their district playoffs where they needed to reverse an earlier loss to Sedro-Wooley to move on.

First-year Tumwater coach Bill Beattie, knowing only too well that Lynden had ended the T-Birds season three times since 2006, twice in the 2A state championship game, called it last week after his team had blown out Washougal, 55-0, to earn the match-up with Lynden on Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium.

“Lynden is Lynden,” he said on Sid Otton Field after the rout of the Panthers.  Lynden was indeed very good, using a big-play passing offense to push the second-ranked T-Birds to the brink before Tumwater prevailed, 23-21.

Senior Rashaan Tate swept five yards into the right corner of the end zone to give Tumwater a nine-point lead that enabled the T-Birds (9-2) to hold off a game Lynden in the first round of the Class 2A state football playoffs.

“We work on situations like that a lot in practice,”  Tate said.  “It’s not hard to be ready, especially with our offensive line.”

Tumwater head coach Bill Beattie can pick and choose from a deep corps of backs that has gained more than 3,500 yards rushing so far this season.  Sophomore Dylan Paine carried 32 times for 176 yards on Friday.

“We’ve got faster backs to run that play, but we knew Rashaan would cut it up and get into the end zone,” he said. “The great thing about our team this season is whoever gets called on, steps up.”

During the first half it was Lynden stepping up to put the lie to its record coming into Friday night’s game, played under a layer of fog in 39-degree chill.

After Nathan Seaman got the scoring started with a 31-yard field goal to conclude Tumwater’s first possession, Lynden, aided by two T-Bird penalties totaling 20 yards, marched 73 yards in nine plays to score on a one-yard run by quarterback James Marsh.

On the first play of the second quarter, Marsh, who has now passed for more than 1,000 yards since taking over at quarterback mid-season, found Aaron Weidemaar streaking  down the middle for a 60-yard touchdown pass.

The Lions led 14-3 and looked to be in control.

That’s when Connor Clark, who returned the opening kickoff of last week’s district playoff win over Washougal for a touchdown, struck.  He returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the Lynden five.

A penalty and two players later, it was 14-10 as Zane Murphy took a direct snap into the end zone from a yard out.  Tumwater ran a number of snaps out of the Wildcat formation, some to Murphy, but most to fellow running back Jacob Holbrook.

“It’s something we ran a lot early in the season,” Beattie said.  “Not so much recently, so we thought it would give them a look they hadn’t prepared for as much.”

With Paine doing much of the work, Tumwater drove twice more into Seaman’s field goal range, helped by strong blocking from Cy Hicks, Spencer Monahan and Mathew Lund up front, and he connected both times to put the T-Birds up 16-14 before Tate’s insurance touchdown.

Beattie praised his team’s second half defense.  Aided by a few “tweaks” from the coaches in the press box, Tumwater held Lynden scoreless until Marsh – who finished with 221 yards passing – gave the Lions a last gasp of hope with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Grady Vanderyacht three plays after the T-Birds final score.

Marsh’s exploits earned him Pacific Sports Spas Player of the Game honors for Lynden while Paine’s durable and effective performance got the honor for Tumwater.  Seaman’s go-ahead field goal in the third quarter was selected ProActive Physical Therapy Play of the Game.

Tumwater will go on the road next week to play the winner of Saturday’s first round game between Othello and Steilacoom.

By paulb

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