LEWISTON – A muffed punt, a late 10-point deficit, an off night from its star quarterback – none of that was enough to keep Lewiston from notching one of its biggest wins in years.
Quarterback Colton Richardson found Riley Way for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds left to vault the Bengals to a dramatic 55-51 win over Coeur d’Alene on Friday night.
Lewiston (7-0, 1-0) beat the Vikings (3-3, 0-1) for the first time since 2008 in a game that will go down as a classic.
“This is huge,” Lewiston coach Shawn Nilsson said. “If you want to win the league, or have a chance of winning the league, you’ve got to go through Coeur d’Alene, and everybody knows that. They just rebuild and reload.”
The Inland Empire League showdown went back and forth, with both teams trading turnovers and explosive plays as rain pelted soggy Bengal Field for most of the first half.
Way, a senior receiver and defensive back, fumbled a rare CdA punt with less than 10 minutes left to give the Vikings the ball at the 10. On the next play, running back Joe Vang gave CdA a 44-41 lead with a 10-yard touchdown run.
After a three-and-out from Lewiston, the Vikings pounded the ball on the ground. Caleb Beggerly had several big runs and Vang scored from 5 yards out to push CdA up 51-41 with 6:47 left.
But Richardson, Way and the Bengals kept fighting. They put together a quick scoring drive, capped by a perfect 25-yard throw from Richardson to Way in the back of the end zone, to get within 51-48.
Then, after Beggerly ripped off an 18-yard run to start CdA’s most important drive, the Lewiston defense stiffened. The Bengals stopped the Vikings on third down, and CdA quarterback/punter Cole Yankoff elected to throw the ball after lining up to punt on fourth down at the Vikings’ 45.
The Bengals read the play perfectly and coaxed an incompletion from Yankoff.
“He has the option on that one,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said of Yankoff. “It’s one of those games. Hindsight, we probably should have punted. But if we got it, the game would have been over.”
Richardson threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more, but he had two interceptions in the first half, including one that Kyler Prendergast returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Yankoff passed for three touchdowns and ran for another.
The Vikings rebounded from a 28-8 deficit to lead 29-28 at the half.
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