It was ugly and beautiful.
The Coupeville High School football team went on the road for a much needed win, defeating Nooksack Valley 20-12 in a sloppy game Friday, Sept. 27.
Turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities were plentiful, but anytime you put a check in the win column it is a pretty sight.
Wolves coach Tony Maggio told his team after the game, “Feels so good to win after losing a game we should have won.”
Coupeville believed it was the better team in a 13-6 loss to Lynden Christian a week earlier. Nooksack Valley probably thinks the same thing. It moved the ball – when it could keep its hands on it -- more consistently than the Wolves. The Pioneers were derailed by five turnovers.
Nooksack Valley ran 20 more plays (74 to 54) than Coupeville for a 335-245 advantage in yards and a 15-8 advantage in first downs.
The turnovers, however, had as much to do with Coupeville’s hard-hitting, ball-hawking defense as the Pioneers’ lack of execution.
The Wolves made plays on both sides of the ball when they needed them most, and none was bigger than a goal-line stand near the end of the first half.
Nooksack Valley had second down at the Coupeville 1 yard line but couldn’t punch it in against the Wolves’ feisty front. Nick Streubel finished the job with a four-yard loss on fourth down.
The Pioneers moved the ball early. Their first possession of the game ended in an interception at the Coupeville 5 yard line. The second resulted in the game’s first points when quarterback Tanner Myhre, the son of head coach Robb Myhre, scampered 25 yards for a TD. The PAT kick was wide right.
Coupeville quickly responded with the help of a 62-yard run by Jake Tumblin that put the ball at the NV 10. Lathom Kelley covered the final four yards for the score with 18 seconds left in the first quarter, and Joel Walstad kicked the extra point.
With just under eight minutes left in the third quarter came a string of three consecutive Nooksack plays that ended in fumbles recovered by Coupeville.
After the first, the Wolves turned the ball over on downs. After the second, the Wolves were forced to punt, and Walstad pinned the Pioneers at their own 1.
Nooksack completed a short pass on the first play, but the receiver fumbled on Matthew Hampton’s hit and Coupeville recovered at the 1.
Josh Bayne ran a quarterback sneak behind the block of Streubel and the Wolves lead 14-6 after Walstad’s PAT.
Nooksack followed with a long drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters and scored on a 10-yard run by Myhre with 8:51 left in the game. Tumblin sacked Myhre on the two-point PAT attempt and Coupeville led 14-12.
Coupeville wrestled back the momentum with its best drive of the night. After an illegal block call, the Wolves faced a third-and-21 at the Nooksack 39. Tumlin not only picked up the first down but also raced into the end zone and Coupeville led 20-12.
On the kickoff, Walstad’s squib kick ricocheted off a Nooksack lineman and Coupeville recovered to all but seal the game.
Maggio had high praise for his defense: “It is what is making our team go. Our defensive backs were outstanding tonight.”
“This was a huge win; we overcame a lot,” he added.
Maggio was also please with the toughness of his players, noting that fullback and linebacker Brett Arnold played on a gimpy ankle and Kelley and center Joey Edwards battled through shoulder injuries.
Tumblin led the defensive effort with 13 tackles, including a sack; Kelley had 12 tackles and Arnold 11. Streubel picked up two sacks.
Tumblin also rushed for 127 yards on 13 carries.
Bayne completed 4-of-12 passes, all to Wiley Hesselgrave, for 37 yards.
Coupeville (2-2) has next Friday off before going to Granite Falls (0-4) at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 for the first of four league games.