Sequim football's dream season ended Saturday evening in a nightmare fraught with spills, chills and an unsatisfying outcome at the hands of the defending state champions.
The Lynden Lions took advantage of five Sequim turnovers in a 31-0 rout at Silverdale Stadium on Saturday night in the class 2A state football quarterfinals.
Lions quarterback Jordan Hastings ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the visitors from north of Bellingham managed the driving wind and rain better than the host Wolves.
Sequim (10-2) got 71 yards rushing from Travis Decker but managed just four first downs against a stout Lynden defense. The Wolves also completed just five passes, untracking a normally potent offense.
"We played one of the worst games we've ever played," Sequim head coach Erik Wiker said. "We dropped three picks (interceptions), one that could have been a touchdown, we were dropping passes all over the place. I think if we play this afternoon (without the wind and rain), it's closer or we win. The score is not indicative of what happened on the field."
Facing a team with an eerily similar makeup - a versatile, spread offense combined with a run-stuffing defense - Sequim managed to match Lynden step for step for more than 15 minutes until the first of three critical fumbles opened the door. The
Lions converted two such miscues deep in Sequim territory for touchdowns for a 14-0 lead, and then recovered another fumble in the third quarter for a field goal.
"They had great field position," Wiker said. "They probably had 40 yards of offense for three scores. It's not like they kicked our butts. I think we did it to ourselves."
Hastings added a 52-yard scamper with 44 seconds left in the third quarter for the game-clinching score.
Sequim quarterback Drew Rickerson finished 3-of-15 passing for 18 yards. Both he and backup Frank Catelli tossed interceptions.
The loss marred an impressive showing from a Sequim defense that held Lynden to seven first downs and one third down conversion, that coming on the second play in the fourth quarter.
The Lions (11-1) advance to the class 2A state semifinals to face rival Archbishop Murphy at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28.
Sequim, meanwhile, can close the chapter on one of its best seasons - if the best - in school history. The Wolves tied the school mark for wins in a season (10) and won their first state playoff game in school history.
"I think this is the best group of kids I've had, not just talent-wise but team-wise," Wiker said. "It's been a pleasure to coach them. I'm proud of them. I'm glad they did do something that's never been done in Sequim before."
Turnovers decide the game
With near-freezing temperatures and a brisk wind from the south to start the game, neither team managed much of a passing game. The first half saw Sequim and Lynden combine to go 0-for-12 on third down and chalk up just five first downs.
Lynden drew first blood in the second quarter when Rickerson fumbled on the Wolves' 11-yard-line. Three plays later, Hastings scampered in from 4 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
After trading possessions, Sequim looked to put together a drive when Decker found running room on a 29-yard run. But Decker was off the field two plays later with an injury when tailback Isaac Yamamoto fumbled on the Sequim 32-yard-line.
Hastings made Sequim pay, finding Blair Bomber from 19 yards out with 1:13 in the half.
Lynden led 14-0 at halftime.
Things didn't get any easier for the Wolves' defense when Sequim's offense fumbled on the first play of the second half. The Wolves managed to hold Lynden to a 21-yard field goal by Santiago Lopez.
Sequim caught its biggest break when a Lynden tailback fumbled on the Lion 24-yard-line, but the Wolves managed just 4 yards in four plays and turned the ball over on downs.
Six plays later, Hastings called his own number and raced 52 yards through the Wolves' defense for a touchdown and 24-0 lead.
A Brett Bielaw interception set up the final score of the game, a Varner Nyles 6-yard quarterback keeper.
Sequim is just one of six teams in the 2A classification to qualify for the state playoffs each of the past four seasons. The others: Lynden, Burlington-Edison, Colville, Othello and Archbishop Murphy ... In the state semifinals, Lynden faces Archbishop Murphy for the second time this season. On Sept. 5, the Lions fell 34-20 at the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field in Seattle ...
Sequim saw nine athletes named to the all-Olympic/Nisqually League team ... Sequim was called for six penalties totaling 68 yards, the Lions just two penalties for 10 yards ... Lynden out-gained Sequim 203-112 in total yardage ... Decker finished with 71 yards on 17 carries and failed to score a touchdown for just the second time in this 12-game season.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.