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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Resilient Lakeside overcomes halftime deficit, beats Nooksack Valley 24-23 in overtime to reach State 1A title game

Last week, Lakeside advanced past the quarterfinal stage of the State 1A football playoffs for the first time in program history. After a dramatic overtime win Saturday, it will play for its first title.

Senior Luke Pederson caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the extra session, Noah Hamilton nailed the extra point, and the second-seeded Eagles edged No. 6 Nooksack Valley 24-23 at Union Stadium on Saturday.

The Eagles (12-0) were led by senior Hiro Patterson, who had nine carries for 65 yards, seven catches for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Senior quarterback Calvin Mikkelsen finished 14 of 23 for 169 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Lakeside faces defending champion and top-seeded Royal, a 42-0 winner over 12th-seeded Seton Catholic in the other semifinal. Royal has won 11 titles since 1996, including six of the past eight.

The State 1A championship game is at 3 p.m. Friday at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium.

“We’re going to U-Dub, baby,” Mikkelsen said. “Everybody’s just super excited. It’s gonna be fun.”

“Unbelievable resiliency,” Lakeside coach Devin Bauer said. “They just never quit and never give up. So excited for our kids. Nooksack’s a hell of a team.”

Nooksack Valley, which was looking to avenge a 14-13 semifinal loss to Mount Baker last year, finished its season at 9-3. The Pioneers were led by Carson Lentz with 134 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown.

Lakeside did not allow a point in the second half after trailing at halftime.

“We really picked it up after halftime,” Mikkelsen said. “They’re a lot bigger than us. All week we talked like it was ‘Rocky vs Drago’ and we got it done.”

“We just got to keep coming with everything we’ve got,” Pedersen said. “Forty-eight minutes. This group has a lot of seniors. We’ve been working at this since seventh grade. These guys, everybody around us. We’re all brothers. We’re family.”

The Pioneers took the ball first in the third quarter up a touchdown, but Patterson picked off NV quarterback Joey Brown’s long pass attempt and returned it to midfield. A few plays later he scored on a 5-yard run and the extra point tied it at 17.

The defenses turned it up a notch and after a scoreless fourth quarter it went to overtime.

Nooksack Valley took the ball first and on its second play, Lentz barreled in from the 11 for a go-ahead score. But Jorgen Vigre’s extra-point attempt was wide right, opening the door for Lakeside.

On first-and-10 at the 11, Mikkelsen faked a handoff and went over the top to Pedersen for his only touch of the day for the tying score. Hamilton’s PAT was true, and the rest of the Eagles stormed the field in triumph.

“It was a little run-pass option,” Mikkelsen said of the touchdown pass. “Right before the play, Hiro goes to me, ‘Watch that safety coming down because they’re keying me all game,’ and it was a run to him. So I just pulled it, and it opened up. Luke found the end zone and yeah, it was money.”

“Cal and I were just a little off with each other this game, timing off a little bit,” Pedersen said. “That last play, I looked at Cal he knows that their safeties were coming down so I just ran a seam. He floated it perfect over the middle, great read by him – I said, ‘Just don’t drop it.’ ”

The Pioneers forced Lakeside to play from behind early – something the Eagles haven’t had to do much of this season.

Nooksack Valley completed a 14-play, 59-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by upback John Stremler for a 7-0 lead with just more than 3 minutes to go in the first quarter.

Patterson hit the corner for 31 yards into Nooksack territory. Duke Johnson carried 11 yards for first-and-goal, but Lakeside had to settle for a Hamilton 25-yard field goal.

Vigre kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 10-7 with 8 minutes left in the half.

Mikkelsen was pressured on third-and-long, and his desperation pass was picked off by Cory Olney at midfield. The mistake proved costly, as the Pioneers marched 50 yards in nine plays, culminated by a 9-yard TD pass from Brown to Olney for a 17-3 lead with 1:58 left in the half.

Johnson got behind the Nooksack defense for a 49-yard reception to the Pioneers 19. Two plays later, Patterson outjumped a defender in the end zone for a 23-yard TD catch late in the quarter.

After a quick three-and-out, Mikkelsen connected with Patterson for 34 yards to the NV 34. With 0.9 seconds left, Hamilton attempted a 51-yard field goal, but the kick was just short and the Eagles trailed 17-10 at the half.

“We just came out with a little slow start in the first half,” Lakeside senior Oz Melzer said. “But we went in the locker room, the captain’s got everybody riled up. We just knew we had to go out here with no regrets.”

The Eagles defense forced a third-and-long on Nooksack’s first possession of the second half, and Patterson picked off Brown’s long pass attempt and returned to the 50.

A fake-punt pass from Hamilton to Jett Winger put it at the 25. On fourth-and-1 at the 5, Patterson took a jet sweep around right end and hit the pylon for a TD. Hamilton’s extra point tied it at 17.

The teams traded early fourth-quarter punts and Nooksack Valley started at its 10. Skyler Whittern carried 33 yards to the NV 41, then Stremler went 43 yards to the Lakeside 25. On fourth-and-10 from the 25, Lakeside called time out.

Brown’s pass for Jackson Bennett in the end zone was overthrown, and Lakeside took over on downs. But the Eagles went three-and-out and a short punt gave it back to Nooksack Valley at the 50.

Lentz fumbled on the next play, and Mikkelsen came up with it at the 48. But Lakeside couldn’t move the ball, and Hamilton’s punt was taken by fair catch at the 17 with 2 minutes to go.

Brown hit Evan Bravo for gains of 15 and 13 yards to move into Lakeside territory with 51.5 seconds left and no timeouts. A sack and incomplete pass brought up fourth-and-8 at the 45, and Brown punted to the 5.

“It’s just been such a long grind,” Melzer said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys since kindergarten, and this is what we’ve been dreamed of our whole lives.”