Calvin Peterson had retribution on his mind.
A costly fumble by Peterson allowed Mead to seize the lead, but it was the Coeur d’Alene senior’s touchdown pass that inspired the Vikings’ comeback in a 42-28 victory over the Panthers in a non-league football game Friday night at Central Valley High School.
In a matchup of two Class 4A schools, CdA improved to 3-1. Mead slipped to 1-2.
A wide receiver, Peterson looked as if he was running a reverse with CdA trailing 28-21 early in the fourth quarter. Instead, he pulled up in front of a bewildered Mead defense and fired a 37-yard touchdown pass to Leon Duplessis to tie the game.
Mead then punted after three plays, and Peterson’s punt return and 20-yard end-around set up Shea Vucinich’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Nate Bligh for the go-ahead score.
“We kept our heads up and got it in the end zone when we needed it,” said Peterson, who also caught four passes for 63 yards.
It was one Peterson miscue that put Coeur d’Alene in a position where it needed to come back.
The Panthers tied the game at 21 on Chris Jones’ 54-yard touchdown run with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Peterson fumbled the ensuing kickoff return at the CdA 24, and Jones followed with a 5-yard touchdown run to complete Mead’s turnaround from a seven-point deficit to a 28-21 lead with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
Duplessis caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Vucinich with 2 minutes left to complete the scoring.
Mead coach Sean Carty, meanwhile, is left with more questions about his team after the defending Greater Spokane League champions suffered their second loss in three games.
The Panthers had accumulated more than 570 rushing yards in their first two contests, and they compiled 237 more against CdA.
Jones carried the ball 21 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Luke Hattrup added 19 carries for 111 yards and another two touchdowns.
Mead quarterback Matt Johnson completed only 5 of 19 passes for 92 yards. He was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. The Panthers’ woes couldn’t be pinned solely on him, however, as dropped passes and ill-timed penalties hindered several Mead possessions.
The Panthers had a chance to secure a double-digit lead before halftime. They not only squandered the opportunity, but they couldn’t stop CdA from tying the score 14-14 at halftime.
Mead marched to the Vikings 27 with 1:20 remaining in the second quarter, but Panthers quarterback Johnson threw an interception that ended the threat. Coeur d’Alene then raced 74 yards in 55 seconds, Vucinich plunging into the end zone from the 1 for the touchdown. He completed a pass to tight end Brandon Welch for the two-point conversion to tie the score.
CdA held possession of the ball for fewer than 5 minutes in the first quarter, but the Vikings put things together early in the second. Vucinich’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Nate Bligh capped a 13-play, 84-yard drive to pull the Vikings within 7-6.
Cody Spencer rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts for Coeur d’Alene. Vucinich, who had entered the game with 825 passing yards and nine touchdowns, completed 12 of 30 passes for 173 yards.