Half the players on the Sandpoint High football team were barely twinkles in their parents’ eyes the last time a Bulldogs team defeated Lewiston.
No victory over Lewiston ranks more important than the Bulldogs’ 14-13 triumph Friday in a State A-1 Division II semifinal at the University of Idaho’s Kibbie Dome.
Sandpoint (8-3) will take on Eagle (8-3) in the state championship game Friday at Boise State University’s Bronco Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST. Eagle beat Hillcrest of Idaho Falls 27-12 in the other semifinal Friday.
The Sandpoint-Lewiston game started 90 minutes late because of a high-scoring A-4 eight-man preliminary.
Lewiston scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown with 1:36 left when running back Rick McCrery scored on a two-yard run, but the extra point attempt by Shawn Holder hit the left upright and fell straight down.
Sandpoint recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt.
In the first half, Lewiston (7-3-1) had its best drive halted at the Sandpoint 24-yard-line when McCrery fumbled and Bulldogs linebacker Brandon Jacobson recovered.
Sandpoint then put together its best series. Kurt Berkley had back-to-back runs of 18 and 11 yards to move the Bulldogs to Lewiston’s 43.
Two plays later, a holding penalty backed up the Bulldogs to the 47. But on a nicely executed delay route out of the backfield, Berkley got behind Lewiston’s secondary and quarterback Paul Nieman found him. Berkley was tackled inches short of the goal line.
Lewiston stuffed Sandpoint’s first two running plays before fullback Nick Jackson got the final yard up the gut for the first touchdown 4:06 before halftime.
The Bengals threatened to even things before intermission. They marched from their 20 to Sandpoint’s 18 before the Bulldogs stiffened. Lewiston quarterback Sennett Pierce threw a hard pass that bounced off the hands of wide-open McCrery. Then on fourth-and-7, Pierce rolled right and decided to run, but was stopped 4 yards short of the first down.