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Nooksack Valley suffers 2nd straight state semifinal heartbreaker

Pioneers fall to Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls in overtime, 24-23

Nooksack Valley players react Saturday
Nooksack Valley players react Saturday (Young Kwak)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls quarterback Calvin Mikkelsen found wide receiver Luke Pederson in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown in overtime, and the ensuing extra point ended Nooksack Valley’s season, 24-23, in the 1A state semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 25 in Mead, Spokane County.

The No. 2-seeded Eagles (12-0) needed just seven points to win in the game’s extra period after No. 6 Nooksack Valley (9-3) missed the point after on its overtime score — a 13-yard run by junior running back Colton Lentz — a few plays earlier. 

NV’s 23-17 lead evaporated in one moment, and the following kick eliminated the Pioneers. It’s the second straight season NV has lost by one point in the semifinals after last season’s 14-13 loss to in-county rival Mount Baker.

“This one will probably sting for a while,” NV head coach Craig Bartl said. “Just because — not to take anything away from them — but I think we outplayed them. We just made too many mistakes.”


Nooksack Valley’s Colton Lentz looks down after the overtime loss.

(Photo by Young Kwak)

The final Lakeside TD was set up by a defensive pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-8 from NV’s 23-yard line, where Mikkelsen threw a deep pass out of the right side of the end zone. 

If left incomplete, the Eagles would have been in desperation mode. Instead, Mikkelsen threw a 12-yard TD to Pederson on the very next play.

“That’s a tough call … I didn’t see the penalty, but we can’t control the officials,” Bartl said. “To be honest, if we don’t have some of the mistakes earlier in the game, then it doesn’t even come down to that, but I’d have to watch that again on film … we still have to play defense after that.”

In a losing effort, NV outgained Lakeside 369-269 — a discrepancy made even more befuddling when looking at the second-half yardage. The Pioneers outgained the Eagles 205-82 in the second half but fumbled away a 17-10 halftime lead.

NV began the game according to plan. The Pioneers forced a Lakeside punt on the game’s first drive before stringing together a 14-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by a 4-yard run from senior lineman/fullback John Stremler.

After one quarter, NV led 7-0.

photo  Nooksack Valley’s John Stremler runs for a touchdown during the first half. (Photo by Young Kwak)  

Both teams traded field goals before NV senior quarterback Joey Brown hit junior wide receiver Cory Olney for a 9-yard TD late in the second quarter, giving the Pioneers a 17-3 lead. 

Brown finished the game 9-of-18 passing for 92 yards, a TD and an interception, and added 25 yards rushing on nine carries.

A 49-yard throw-and-catch from Mikkelsen to junior wide receiver Daylen Johnson set Lakeside up on NV’s 23-yard line, and the next play was a 23-yard TD from Mikkelsen to senior running back Sadahiro Patterson — narrowing the Pioneers’ lead to 17-10 ahead of halftime.

Patterson had a game-high 140 total yards and two touchdowns on 15 touches to lead the Eagles.

The only score of the second half was with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter, when Patterson got in the end zone on a 5-yard end-around run to make it 17-17 — a score set up by a gutsy fake punt that gained 27 yards.

A few drives later, a pair of chunk plays — first a 33-yard run from senior running back Skyler Whittern and a 43-yard rumble from Stremler — moved NV from its own 5-yard line to Lakeside’s 25-yard line.

photo  Nooksack Valley’s Colton Lentz (9) runs into the end zone unscathed for a touchdown. (Photo by Young Kwak)  

Then, on a 4th-and-10 from the Eagles’ 25, Brown threw an incompletion in the end zone and the ball went back to Lakeside. 

“I don’t know that I would change anything, I mean, because we’re moving the ball,” Bartl said. “It’s just, you know, they got some bounces their way.”

Each team had two drives from there, but neither could get any points. Overtime arrived, and the harrowing chain of events for the Pioneers ensued.

Lentz finished with 25 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown, while Whittern piled up 66 rushing yards on 10 carries. Stremler finished with 47 yards and a TD on two carries.

Olney, who also had an interception on defense, totaled four catches for 28 yards and a score.

Mikkelsen completed 12-of-17 passes for 166 yards, two TDs and an interception. Johnson had one catch for 49 yards.

Nooksack Valley will graduate 14 seniors ahead of next season. 

“We made it to the semifinals for two years in a row,” Bartl said. “It kind of stinks to lose by two points in two years, but there’s a lot to be thankful and proud of our kids for.”

Lakeside heads to the 1A state championship on Friday, Dec. 1 at Husky Stadium. The Eagles will face No. 1 Royal or No. 12 Seton Catholic at 3 p.m. for the title.

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