After a madcap final five minutes with three lead changes, including the winning touchdown with 6.7 seconds remaining, Post Falls coach Blaine Bennett had a wide smile and one question.
“What was the final?” Bennett asked.
That would be Post Falls 42, Skyview 37, in a thrilling 5A state playoff opener Friday that the Trojans pulled out with a precisely executed drive in the closing seconds.
The Trojans needed the late heroics because Skyview put together a dandy late drive of its own, converting on two fourth downs and covering 75 yards to take a short-lived 37-35 lead with 34.2 seconds left.
“One thing about playing up-tempo offense, you don’t need a lot of time because you’re used to playing fast,” Bennett said. “The kids executed it really well. We worked the sideline when we had to and (quarterback) Derek (Pearse) did an excellent job managing it.”
Post Falls took over at its 43-yard line and quickly moved the ball to the Hawks’ 20 on a couple of Pearse passes to Tommy Hauser, a Skyview penalty for pass interference and Pearse’s 5-yard scramble.
Pearse, who passed for 293 yards and four touchdowns, patiently sat in the pocket before hitting sophomore Josiah Shields, who made a sliding catch in the back of the end zone.
“We had vertical (routes) going in the end zone,” Pearse said. “I was looking at Josiah the whole way and he just got open. The line blocked it well, I had plenty of time.”
Post Falls (5-4) advanced to face Mountain View next week in Meridian.
Skyview (5-5) led for most of the game. The Trojans were seemingly fighting an uphill battle, mainly because Hawks senior Tyler Crowe was running downhill.
Crowe, who ran for 457 yards in a 70-50 victory against Meridian last week, rambled for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot, 220-pounder, who is drawing interest from several Big Sky schools, coasted in from 1 to give the Hawks a 37-35 lead.
The Hawks, who piled up 32 first downs, were a handful to defend. Quarterback Wyatt Storer passed for 252 yards. Favorite target Wade Carpenter had 10 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
“We were behind, but this is a really good group,” Bennett said. “And they do believe.”
The Trojans didn’t have nearly as much yardage as Skyview but they were opportunistic. The defense registered a couple of key stops, the special teams delivered a blocked punt that Carsen Daughenbaugh returned 45 yards for a touchdown and the offense produced TDs on the unit’s final three possessions.
“Really an awesome win in all three phases,” Bennett said. “Our defense had a tough challenge, 21 (Crowe’s number) is an excellent back and they’re big up front. I thought our defensive front played well, even though it was a tough day for them.”
Post Falls’ passing game was dialed in, particularly in the second half. Pearse and receivers Hauser, Shields and Rutherford brothers Cole and Jacob came up with numerous big plays.
“It just feels amazing,” Pearse said. “We put in so much work over the summer and throughout the season.”
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