Wolverines undone by turnovers, penalties in 28-14 loss to Nooksack Valley

The Friday Harbor football team jumped out to a quick start Saturday on the road at Nooksack Valley.

Thanks to a fumble recovery deep in Pioneer territory, the Wolverines grabbed a 7-0 lead when quarterback Michael Ausilio and tailback Eddie Nash hooked up on a 14-yard touchdown pass early in the first period.

But that’s about the time the flags really started to fly.

Despite three interceptions and a pair of fumbles, Nooksack Valley (3-1) rattled off 21 unanswered points and claimed the advantage while Friday Harbor, penalized a total of 127 yards in the game, backpedaled for much of the contest. The Pioneers lost five yards on one penalty over 48 minutes of play.

It’s the Wolverines’ (2-2) second loss of the season on the road in Whatcom County. Penalties also proved to be Friday Harbor’s Achilles heel two weeks ago at Meridian, where they were hit with 10 flags and gave up 90 yards.

Nooksack Valley deserves credit, according to Friday Harbor Head Coach Darrin Scheffer, for its balanced offensive attack and creating confusion early on among the Wolverine defenders with its no-huddle offense. The Pioneers amassed 309 yards of offense, 173 on the ground and 136 in the air.

“Nooksack and Meridian are similar in their willingness to hit big,” Scheffer said. “But Nooksack has an advantage in size, and they also executed their offense very well.”

Trailing 21-7 at the half, the Wolverines rallied after the break and trailed by just a touchdown when Ausilio tossed a 12-yard TD to Jordan Nash late in the third quarter. But a fumble and interception in the final quarter erased two potential scoring drives. The Pioneers sealed the victory by scoring the final touchdown with just over nine minutes left to play.

The Wolverines tallied 223 yards of total offense, highlighted by a 53-yard pass from Ausilio to wide receiver Zach Hayes. Ausilio tossed two TD’s, two interceptions, and completed 8-of-18 pass attempts for 139 yards.

Next: Friday Harbor hosts Seattle Lutheran, Saturday at 1 p.m.

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