There is little doubt what Lake City coach Van Troxel will do when faced with playing for the tie or the victory.
The gamble to go for two paid off for the Timberwolves on Friday night when senior quarterback Mark Smyly barged his way into the end zone to give LC a 22-21 win over third-ranked Post Falls in the 5A Inland Empire League football opener for both teams.
“In 34 years (of coaching) I have gone for two to win every time,” Troxel said. “I never will (go for the tie), that is just not me. I want my football team to be that way. I want them to go to strive to be winners no matter what.”
The win was LC’s sixth straight over Post Falls. But it was by no means the easiest during that stretch.
LC (3-2 overall, 1-0 IEL) needed some big plays from Smyly, who struggled in the first half with a fumble and an interception. The pick ended a long LC drive at the Post Falls’ 4-yard line just before halftime.
“He felt like the first half was all his fault,” Troxel said. “But I told him, `That is what winners do. When things don’t go well, they don’t give up.’”
Trailing 13-7 in the fourth quarter, Smyly connected with senior Colton Carlson on a 44-yard pass play that kickstarted the LC offense. Smyly found the end zone four plays later on a 5-yard keeper.
“I was just trying to lead this team a little bit better than I was at the end of the first half, because I was kind of letting us down,” said Smyly, who ran for 124 yards and a touchdown. “We had some drives going, but I had a couple of turnovers.”
Post Falls (4-1, 0-1) responded to Smyly’s score with a nine-play, 70-yard drive. Senior QB Matt Lickford powered in for a two-point conversion after a Tyson Johnson TD run to give the Trojans a 21-14 lead with 2 minutes, 28 seconds remaining.
Smyly, however, made two big running plays to key LC’s final possession. Allen Carmichael eventually punched the ball in for the touchdown, but Smyly took control on the two-point conversion.
“I wanted it so bad,” Smyly said. “The play is designed to go to the running back, but I just wanted to make sure it got in there.”
Troxel credited LC’s comeback with a tough non-league schedule leading up to Friday’s game.
“I think the advantage was we’ve been in three four-quarter games the last three weeks,” he said. “They hadn’t, and I think that played into our favor.”