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Bellingham flies past Blaine with high-powered passing attack

Josh Leonard, Wyatt Stephan connect for 5 touchdowns in 40-23 win

Bellingham’s Wyatt Stephan hauls in a pass as an opposing player runs up to him from the side.
Bellingham’s Wyatt Stephan hauls in one of his five touchdown catches for 49 yards Friday, Oct. 13 as the Bayhawks beat Blaine 40-23 at Blaine High School. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

BLAINE – Bellingham quarterback Josh Leonard and wide receiver Wyatt Stephan connected on five touchdowns through the air as the Bayhawks rolled past Blaine, 40-23, on Friday, Oct. 13 at Blaine High School.

The duo notched four touchdowns of 30 or more yards — with a long of 55 yards — as Leonard completed 18-of-26 passes for 322 yards and an interception in addition to his passing scores. A flood of rain that began just after kickoff and lasted the entire game made the feat even more impressive.

Stephan caught seven passes for 196 yards, and his five touchdown catches tied the Whatcom County all-time record, according to Whatcom Preps.

“We just did what we were supposed to, and it worked,” Leonard said. “[Stephan] is just crazy fast.”

Following the win over Blaine (2-5, 1-1 Northwest Conference), Bellingham (4-3) has now won four consecutive games after losing its first three by a combined 16 points. 

Blaine's Thomas Cox blocks a reception intended for Bly Henderson as they leap slightly off the grass.
Blaine’s Thomas Cox blocks a reception intended for Bellingham’s Bly Henderson. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

The Bayhawks struck first via a 15-yard touchdown run from junior running back Tyler Frost and soon took a 14-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. They never looked back from there.

“I’m proud of the entire team,” said Bellingham head coach Adam Leonard, also Josh’s father. “Obviously, I’m proud of Josh — five touchdowns in basically a rainstorm here is pretty impressive, especially when you can’t grip the ball.”

Junior running back Rommel Paez set Blaine up on Bellingham’s one-yard line via a 49-yard run near the end of the first quarter, allowing junior quarterback Colin Davis to trim the Bayhawks’ advantage on a short quarterback sneak. 

Trailing 21-7 three minutes into the second quarter, the Borderites got another burst when senior wide receiver Hunter Vezzetti returned a kickoff for a touchdown.


Blaine's Colin Davis looks for a receiver with one arm in the air as others fight for control.
Blaine’s Colin Davis looks for a receiver. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Bellingham fumbled on the next drive, giving Blaine a chance to tie the game midway through the second quarter, but the Borderites would turn it over on downs soon after. Eight seconds later, on the first play of the Bayhawks’ drive, Leonard found Stephan for their third touchdown of the night to make it 27-14. 

Blaine never came within 11 points of Bellingham from there, and the Borderites’ offense was slow going aside from a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Davis to senior wide receiver Tyler Bouma.

Despite Paez rushing for 123 yards on 19 carries, Blaine stuck with the passing game. With the wet conditions, the Borderites’ wide receivers simply couldn’t haul in receptions. 

“I think Colin [Davis] threw the ball fairly well,” Blaine head coach Andy Olson said. “A lot of times we just couldn’t make the catch. We had a case of the drops.”

 
 
 
 
 

Davis finished the game 13-of-31 passing for 140 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — both in the second half. Bouma totaled three catches for 105 yards and a score.

Frost totaled 64 yards rushing for Bellingham on 10 carries while the team’s leading receiver all season, senior Joshua Tolle, caught nine passes for 82 yards.

“They were really respecting what Josh told can do in the slot,” Adam Leonard added. “He comes off a game with 239 yards receiving, and obviously he’s a big threat. But, you know, someone else [Stephan] just stepped up for our team.”

Bellingham’s next game will be a road contest at Friday Harbor (4-2, 3-0 NW 1B/2B) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20. Blaine will head to Lynden Christian (5-2, 2-0 NWC) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday, Oct. 20 as well.

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