After electrifying start, Shorewood game ends in 31-26 loss to Blaine

Saturday, October 21, 2017

#13 Josh Lee breaks up the play

Shorewood Thunderbirds 26 Blaine Borderites 31
Shoreline Stadium, Friday, October 20, 2017, 8pm

T-birds Overall Record 3-4

By Aaron Bert
Photos by Lisa Hirohata

Excitement buzzed in the air, as the rain clouds held their payload and a chill settled over Shoreline Stadium Friday night, as Shorewood took on Blaine in a non-league match-up for Shorewood’s Homecoming. With a convincing win last week over Sultan, Shorewood was looking to extend their winning streak and establish a new tradition - winning back to back games - alas, the Thunderbirds would come up short.

Shorewood struck first. The first-half kick-off was a deep ball down to the Shorewood 15 fielded by #10 Mathew Bangsberg (Jr, WR/DB) - Bangsberg began to run right, but on a reverse, gave the ball to #21 DeShawn Alexander (So, RB/DB) who streaked to the sideline, kicked in the afterburners and was gone for a 85 yard kickoff return - the first such play of the year for Shorewood and the crowd jumped to its feet in adulation and joy. The ensuing extra point was blocked, a harbinger of things to come in the kicking game, and Shorewood was up 6-0 with ten seconds off the clock.

Blaine, led by #5 Julian Gonzalez (Sr, RB/DB), answered immediately on the next drive starting on the Shorewood 33 and marching 67 yards in 2 minutes to take the lead 7-6. Gonzalez, listed at 5’8” and 160 pounds proved to be a punishing runner - hardly ever coming down on first contact and often it would take a host of T-birds to stop his momentum. He ran with a purpose - old school, smash mouth football - and seemed to relish in taking hits and dishing out punishment to the defense. Gonzalez would prove to be the key to the Blaine win.

#3 Robert Banks runs the ball with #20 Noah Keys blocking

The next drive had Shorewood starting on their own 29. #3 Robert Banks (Sr, RB/DB) had a solid game at running back - demonstrating brilliant flashes of speed when he would find a crease in the Borderite defense. The first play from scrimmage found Banks bursting for a 27 yard gain and Shorewood was off. Two plays later, #4 David Snell (Jr, QB) connected with #21 DeShawn Alexander for a 45-yard touchdown pass and the T-birds took the lead 12-7 as #54 Phil Ball, the starting right guard on the offensive line and placekicker having his second extra point of the night blocked. Snell got the start at QB for Shorewood as #7 Skylar Hammer (Jr, QB/DB) was out due to a non-football injury sustained earlier in the day.

Shorewood’s defense would step up on the next two series, forcing the Borderites out on downs, to include a stop at the Shorewood 3 when it looked like a touchdown was imminent. Lead by tough-nosed and passionate linebacker #34 Levi ‘Rocky’ Williams (So, OL/LB) and #22 Kaden Graves (Jr, OL/LB) - the T-birds stuffed Blaine’s Gonzalez on a dive over the left side and the Green and Blue of Shorewood was back in business.

#4 David Snell throws a pass

On the next drive, Shorewood faced 3 and 13 and Snell dropped back to pass and lofted a lazy toss over the middle which was intercepted by Blaine’s free safety and the Borderites were down to the Shorewood 4 with first and goal. After two unsuccessful gives to Gonzalez, Blaine faked the dive to Gonzales and #82 Cruz Rodriquez, (Sr, TE/LB) released to the left flat and was uncovered for an easy touchdown. With the extra point, Blaine took the lead 14-12 and held it the rest of the game.

As has often been the case with Shorewood all year, failure to execute basic fundamentals have killed promising drives and given the opposing team opportunities to capitalize and score points. Shorewood fumbled the snap on the first play of their drive after receiving the ensuing kickoff and Blaine took the ball down for a field goal, taking the lead 17-12.

#3 Robert Banks got the next drive started with two back to back runs of 21 yards each, but Shorewood stalled by committing two offensive holds and a giving up a sack - denying the T-birds the momentum on a promising drive. Blaine in turn stalled on their next drive and had to punt at the 2:16 mark remaining in the 2nd quarter. The punt fielded by Shorewood's Alexander, danced and cut, causing Borderite defenders to dive for him when he had already swiveled and spun out of the space they thought he was at - and he was off down the left sideline for a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. With the crowd going wild, a hush soon settled over the ecstatic fans, as once again, a yellow flag rested on the 40-yard line marking the spot where Shorewoods lack of fundamentals - a block in the back - negated the go-ahead touchdown.

#84 Logan Freitas kicks off

Blaine opened the 2nd half, starting on their own 35-yard line and behind the power running of Gonzales, and poor tackling by Shorewood took the ball down the field and scored a touchdown. The clocked showed 9:15 remaining in the 3rd quarter and Blaine up 24-12. The succeeding kick-off had #21 Alexander and #10 Bangsberg ready to showcase their return skills once again. Not learning how dangerous this duo was proving to be, Blaine’s #14 Bryce Kamrath (Jr, K) booted the ball deep to Alexander. This time, faking the reverse, Alexander once again hit turbo boost and was off like a rocket and the improbable looked possible as he streaked for another kickoff return for a touchdown. And yet, disappointment would rule out this spectacular effort - with Shorewood getting called for another block in the back, taking the ball back to their own 11 to start the drive.

All was not lost - #3 Banks took the deep handoff from Snell, and like last week, found a crease over the right side for an 89-yard rushing touchdown - Shorewoods longest play from scrimmage all year. With the two-point conversion good, Shorewood pulled within 4 and the scoreboard read Blaine 24 - Shorewood 20.

Blaine immediately answered on their next play - seemingly punching the whole Shorewood defense in the solar plexus - stunning the T-birds and the Homecoming crowd by ripping off a 76-yard touchdown run from scrimmage by who else, but #5 Gonzalez. From the stands, you could see the whole Shorewood sideline deflate and Blaine was up 31-20 with 8:30 remaining in the 3rd.

#20 Noah Keys blocks the punt

Shorewood's next three drives resulted in: turning the ball over on downs; a fumble and Snell throwing his second interception of the night after Shorewood started on their own 46. Blaine had three series in a row where they were forced to punt. The defense on those three drives found a more aggressive, ball-swarming mentality and showed glimpses of what they could do when pressure was applied up front and hits on the opposing running back were low - rather than trying to tackle at the shoulder pad level.

Shorewood did make it interesting at the end. Taking the ball over at their own 34 with 5:43 remaining in the 4th, the T-birds took it in for a score on a 10-yard fly sweep to Banks for his second rushing touchdown of the night. The drive was helped by a Blaine pass interference call and a Shorewood botched play which found two T-bird receivers executing a tip drill surrounded by three Borderite defenders and #10 Bangsberg coming up with a huge 45-yard pass catch, which eventually set up Banks for the score. The two-point conversion failed, and the scoreboard read Blaine 31 - Shorewood 26.

Even with various setbacks, Shorewood showed some tremendous spark and talent during the course of the game and have begun to develop building blocks of success. With two games remaining in the season, the question still exists - can Shorewood play four quarters of consistent football?

Next up for Shorewood (3-4), is Sehome High School from Bellingham. Sehome (2-6), who had a 23 game losing streak entering the 2017 season, is now on a 2 game winning streak, beating Granite Falls, 46-28 last night. The Mariners of Sehome will surely be looking to take that momentum into their matchup with the T-birds - Friday, October 27, 2017, 5 PM at Shoreline Stadium.


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