BOISE – A special play on special teams has the Coeur d’Alene High football team in position to win its first state championship since 1985.
Talented offenses, aggressive defenses and experienced coaches traded punches all afternoon during Saturday’s 5A state semifinal at Bronco Stadium. But the outcome was swayed by huge plays on special teams, including a late blocked punt by Vikings senior Drew Turbin that led to the winning touchdown in a 28-24 Coeur d’Alene victory.
Coeur d’Alene (10-1) plays Centennial (9-2) for the title next weekend at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.
“They were blocking down pretty hard after we got the first (punt),” Turbin said. “I just came hard from the outside and got a hand on the ball.”
Turbin’s block gave the Vikings the ball at the Capital 21 with 2:42 remaining. With star tailback Zach Keiser sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, junior quarterback Chad Chalich led a short drive that featured two third-down conversions, including a 2-yard scoring run by Chalich with 29 seconds remaining.
“Our offensive line played great all game, and we have good backup running backs,” Chalich said. “We just kept our heads and stayed confident and got the job done.”
Capital’s last-gasp drive lasted just one play as quarterback Riley Magner – who ran for 94 yards and threw for 267 with three TDs – got sacked and fumbled, with Deon Watson recovering to seal the victory.
“What a game,” Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos said. “Just an all-out, four-quarter slugfest. Capital was all they were advertised to be.”
The first half was a wide-open affair as both defenses struggled to keep pace with their speedy, no-huddle counterparts. Keiser ran for 147 yards – including touchdown runs of 35 and 40 yards – in the first quarter alone as the Vikings took an early 14-6 lead.
“We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth early,” said Keiser, who finished with 181 yards on 18 carries and hopes to return for the title game. “That’s the way we want to play, and hopefully we can do it again next week.”
After the Vikings blocked a second-quarter punt deep in Capital territory, Keiser scored his third touchdown – a 3-yard keeper out of the wildcat formation – to make it 21-6.
Capital responded with a 38-yard TD pass from Magner to Jordan Storrs. The Eagles further trimmed the deficit with two special-teams plays. Harley Davidson blocked a Vikings field-goal attempt and Marcus Tovar converted a fake punt near midfield, leading to a Stephen Shaw field goal that made it 21-16 just before halftime.
Both defenses stiffened in a low-scoring second half. Magner and Storrs hooked up on a third-quarter TD to give Capital its first lead, which looked like it would hold up until Turbin came flying off the edge to block the Eagles’ final punt.
“Drew Turbin has been that kind of player for us,” Amos said. “It didn’t surprise us that he was the guy who made it happen.”