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CdA running game takes advantage of snowy conditions

Ty Holgate got his wish.

Late Friday afternoon the temperature began to drop, the wind picked up and rain turned to snow. Ideal conditions for a senior running back operating behind a senior-laden offensive line.

Holgate rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns and the Vikings piled up nearly 400 ground yards in a 42-14 victory over visiting Capital in a 5A state semifinal.

“That’s what I was hoping for,” Holgate said of the snowy weather that left a trace of the white stuff on Viking Field. “That way we can run the ball.”

The victory puts Coeur d’Alene (8-3) in the state championship game for the fourth straight season. The Vikings will face No. 1 Highland (11-0), which defeated Rocky Mountain 24-6, in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow on Friday. The teams met earlier this season in Pocatello with Highland winning 24-21.

Capital (10-2) didn’t look comfortable from the outset in the chilly conditions. The Eagles practiced in temperatures in the mid-50s before making the trip north to Coeur d’Alene. They lost their footing several times on the slippery field, bobbled a couple snaps from center and dropped at least three passes.

Capital went three-and-out on their first two possessions. The Vikings took advantage of favorable field position to jump in front 14-0 on touchdown runs by Holgate and Gibson Green.

Jackson Carlson’s interception and 25-yard return gave the Vikings the ball at Capital’s 3. Two plays later sophomore quarterback Austin Lee, filling in for injured starter Gunnar Amos, tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chase Blakley. The Vikings led 20-0 with the game barely 8 minutes old.

“North Idaho weather right there,” said head coach Shawn Amos, who guided the Vikings to state titles in 2010 and 2011. “The conditions helped us as far as being able to run the ball.”

Tarik Littlejohn’s interception and 28-yard return narrowed CdA’s lead to 20-7, but Holgate answered with a 56-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play from scrimmage.

Coeur d’Alene’s defense held and the Vikings marched 76 yards on nine running plays. Green covered the final 3 yards and the Vikings took a 34-7 lead at half.

The Vikings wasted no time on their opening series of the third quarter. Holgate ripped off runs of 32 and 28 yards to set up Lee’s 2-yard scoring run, hiking CdA’s lead to 42-7.

Holgate needed just 10 carries to gain 177 yards. Green added 71 yards and two touchdowns. Lee, who passed for 115 yards, added 33 yards rushing.

The Vikings defense limited Capital to 112 yards rushing and 139 yards passing – 64 of those coming on a trick play on the Eagles’ last possession.