Lewis and Clark got a touchdown from an alert lineman, who scooped up a blocked field goal at the end of the first half, and the Tigers routed visiting Lake City 35-14 Friday night at Joe Albi Stadium.
Leading 14-7 near the end of two hard-fought quarters, the Tigers drove to the Timberwolves’ 23-yard line with 2.8 seconds left and rushed to attempt a 40-yard field goal.
At the snap, a Lake City player burst through the line and blocked the kick. But LC’s Ethan Mermel picked up the ball and stood still about three seconds.
“We were close. Everyone was screaming ‘Run!’ and pointing to the goal line,” Tigers coach Dave Hughes said.
Mermel got the message and rumbled 23 yards for a score that turned out to be the winning touchdown.
Lake City coach Van Troxel said he’s only seen that play occur twice in 39 years.
“We blocked the kick. We were right in it at that point,” Troxel said. “But in this goofy game, a lot of it is momentum. You just kind of shake your head. It’s tough.”
The Tigers came out clawing. After stopping Lake City’s opening drive by forcing a fumble, LC quarterback Jordan Summers, who was 10 of 18 for 182 yards, hit Adam Thompson for a 49-yard touchdown strike.
The Tigers’ defense got a three-and-out, and Lewis and Clark drove again. Facing fourth-and-inches, Summers handed off to Adam Jacobson, who broke through the line and ran in from 19 yards out to put the Tigers up 14-0 at the start of the second quarter.
“When I hit the line, it was like the seas parted,” Jacobson said. “The O-line did a great job opening it up for me.”
Jacobson finished with 68 yards on seven carries. But Cameron Duncan was the workhorse, carrying the ball 11 times for 77 yards.
“We were able to bounce around the outside on some runs,” Duncan said. “It was a great ‘W.’ I couldn’t be happier.”
Hughes said he was proud of how his team stayed focused with the uncertainty of a teacher strike that was averted Thursday.
The win was even sweeter as it avenged a 28-0 loss to Lake City last year in Coeur d’Alene.
“When you have experienced players, it helps,” Hughes said. “Last year, my guys were babies, and they had all the experience. That flipped in one year.”
Troxel now has the job of convincing his team, which only has three returning starters, to stick with the program after an 0-2 start.
“There is no substitute for good experience,” he said. “The big thing is not to lose faith in themselves or the team. We are still excited about our kids.”
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