Key fumbles derail Lakewood’s try for first


Herald Writer

LAKEWOOD – The Lakewood Cougars football team came out with a bang on Friday, but couldn’t hold onto the ball down the stretch.

Despite scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions, Lakewood had two costly fumbles that became the difference in a 21-12 North Cascades Conference loss to Lynden Christian.

From the first play of the game, Lynden Christian (5-0 in conference and overall) knew its No. 3 state ranking meant nothing against Lakewood (4-1, 4-1).

“There’s always one team that plays you tough,” said Lynden Christian head coach Dan Kaemingk. “No matter how good you are, one team gives you a good game every year. For us it’s Lakewood.”

Lakewood running back Kris Kazen took the ball on the first play from scrimmage and scampered 63 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 Cougar lead.

After forcing a fumble on Lynden Christian’s first offensive series at the Lynx 33-yard line, Lakewood marched it into the end zone again.

Kazen took the pitch from Lakewood quarterback Kyle Masterman from 5 yards out to stun Lynden Christian and put the Cougars up 12-0 with 7:11 still remaining in the first quarter.

That’s when Lynden Christian started to focus.

The Lynx began their next possession at their own 28-yard line and went the length of the field effectively mixing the passing of quarterback Jeremy Huntley with running of backs Scott Dirksen and Mike Ruble.

Lynden Christian capped the drive with a 17-yard Huntley touchdown pass to tight end Ian Hinton over the middle to cut the Lakewood lead to 12-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lakewood returner Brien Escalante fumbled the ball and Lynden Christian’s Daren Meenderinck recovered at Lakewood’s 18.

Eight plays later, Lynden Christian took hold of the lead. Ruble caught a 2-yard toss from Huntley at the 10:25 mark of the second quarter to give the Lynx a 14-12 lead.

“We made some mental errors,” said Lakewood head coach Jay Adams. “We gave them short field on the fumble (in the first quarter) and that was a big momentum swing.”

Lynden Christian would get on the board again in the third quarter on a two-yard touchdown dive by Ruble to put the Lynx ahead 21-12 with 1:48 left in the third quarter.

On Lakewood’s final possession, the Cougars drove 61 yards to the Lynden Christian 28 yard line, before Masterson’s pitch to Kazen was batted down and recovered by the Lynx.

“I don’t think we came close to playing like we can,” said Masterson. “We just had too many mistakes.”

Despite the loss, Lakewood is still hopeful of a conference championship and state playoff berth.

“This team (Lakewood) is good,” said Adams. “I think we still have a chance at the league title, and a real good shot at the playoffs.”

Lakewood’s players didn’t dwell long on the loss after the game either.

“We’ll bounce back (against Blaine next Friday),” said Masterson. “We’re taking our revenge on them. The crowd will hear our hits.”

Kazen supplied most of the offense for the Cougars, gaining 131 yards on 14 carries.

Lynden Christian’s Dirksen led the team in running with 17 carries for 97 yards, and Huntley went 12-for-19 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Lakewood-Kazen 63 run (kick blocked)

Lakewood-Kazen 5 run (pass failed)

Lynden Christian-Hinton 17 pass from Huntley (Bosman kick)

Lynden Christian-Ruble 2 pass from Huntley (Bosman kick)

Lynden Christian-Ruble 2 run (Bosman kick)

Records-Lynden Christian: 5-0 in league, 5-0 overall. Lakewood: 4-1, 4-1.

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